And in addition, there is a stigma associated with representing yourself in court, that can result in unintended bias from the judge and/or jury.
You’re getting divorcedYou’re involved in a custody disputeYou want to separate with your partnerYou need to establish paternityYou want to divvy up your estateYou need to manage a trust fundYou’ve been charged with a criminal offenceYou need to negotiate bail
When You’re Getting Divorced
Divorce is at an all-time high, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. “The number of people looking for divorces was 34% higher from March through June compared to 2019“, the New York Post writes.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), in an average year – without the added stress of COVID-19, 40 – 50% of couples in the United States have a divorce.
Divorce has become a fact of life because of how extremely common it has become worldwide, and in the United States especially. Even with this fact, very few people know what to expect. But it is important to know what to expect and even more important, to know when to hire a lawyer in such cases of divorce.
This step by step guide will help you know if you need to hire a lawyer and how to go about getting one, all in a bid to make the process easier for you.
Talk to a divorce lawyer: Unless you are confident about the nuances of divorce law, you need to hire a divorce lawyer. It is best you start the consultation process early on. A lawyer can help you review the requirements for filing for divorce in your state or country, and help you tackle the process legally and completely, one step at a time.
A good example of requirements for filing for divorce in the United States is, you must reside in the state where you are petitioning for a divorce for 3 – 12 months, depending on the state. That means it may be required to postpone any plans to relocate until well after the divorce.
File a petition for divorce or respond to your spouse’s: Aside from consulting a divorce lawyer about the requirements and what to do, the very first step in the legal process is filing a petition with the state. Another importance of working with a lawyer is that a lawyer can help you determine your state’s specifications; for example, your petition may need to include specific grounds for divorce. If you are simply responding to your spouse’s petition, all you have to do is sign the papers. Signing the papers will accelerate the process of divorce.
Pursue temporary measures: The divorce may take a while, anywhere between 6 months to a year. You should talk to your lawyer about a temporary child custody agreement and/or temporary child support to get you through the interim or time lag.
Negotiate, then go to trial if necessary: At every step, having a lawyer is really necessary. Sometimes, you may need to negotiate and if it becomes necessary, you should go ahead to get a trial. Debating about when to hire a lawyer may be risky, full of delays and you may end up regretful? Don’t hesitate to hire a lawyer when it comes to the divorce process. In many cases, a lawyer can act as a mediator and may be able to help you avoid court altogether.
When You’re Involved in a Custody Dispute
Hey! Custody disputes? They are often very difficult to handle by yourself. You are going to legally decide who and who the child(ren) stays with, and you think you can do that all by yourself?
Custody disputes are tricky for a number of reasons. They are fraught with emotion and difficult to muddle through on your own.
You are still wondering if you should hire a lawyer? For any child custody dispute, it is valuable to have a legal counsel to rely on. Having a lawyer in child custody disputes can be beneficial for the following reasons;
A lawyer can provide some much-needed objectivity: Child custody arrangements evoke a lot of emotions, both from the child(ren) and from the parents. Who will get the kids for the holidays, their birthdays or some other important events? It can be near-impossible to objectively or clear-headedly make these decisions on your own. A child custody lawyer can be of great help in this situation.
A lawyer can help gather and organize paperwork for you: If you are in the throes of an emotional child custody dispute, paperwork may be the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately, however, it is a very necessary part of the process of child custody disputes. A lawyer can also keep tabs on all of the red tape and legalese for you.
A lawyer can help navigate the complexities: If you are trying to reach a child custody arrangement in usual or extenuating circumstances, for instance, your spouse lives out of state, across the country, or even overseas, you may need to work with a lawyer to establish a personalized child custody plan, in which case, the lawyer is able to transmit necessary information to and from the spouses some distance apart.
When You Want to Separate From Your Partner
For many, it is obvious when to hire a lawyer. When you are going through a traditional divorce, or when injured in a car crash? Quite obvious, isn’t it? Things get foggier when you were not legally married.
What legal options do you have legal if you are simply living with your partner but wish to separate?
As opposed to collaborative divorce, traditional divorce may especially be legally stressful, because the bane of the case is the extreme disagreement and annoyance of the partners about the case.
“Laws governing married couples who divorce (generally labelled marital or family law) do not usually apply to unmarried couples who separate“, Nolo reveals. This may lead you to assume that you have no legal options to pursue, but that is not necessarily true.
You should talk to a separation attorney, and if you signed any legal written statements prior to breaking up with your partner, those documents will likely hold up in court. In some states, jurisdictions will recognize common law marriages after several years of living together and would treat unmarried but cohabiting partners as though they were married.
If you have children together, that’s different. In the majority of cases, states will proceed as if you are married when determining child custody arrangements.
When You Need to Establish Paternity
Even in very common situations, we consider too trivial to hire a lawyer, you will be surprised to know how necessary it is to do so. One of these seemingly-trivial situations is when you need to establish paternity. Just like things get trickier legally when you are unmarried or just living together, and then break up, things also get tricky when you have a child with someone you are not legally married to.
But why is it so? Establishing paternity in this scenario requires a great deal of work. For instance, if a married couple has a baby, the law presumes a legal relationship between the child and husband, but if an unmarried couple has a baby, there is no immediate legal precedence or presumption of paternity.
A paternity lawyer can help whether you are the acknowledged father (you believe the child is yours and behave accordingly) or you are the unmarried father (you are not married to the mother of the child and your paternity is in question).
In the event that you are unmarried at the time of your child’s birth or otherwise need to establish paternity, there are several options available to you. You can take a DNA test or blood test, sign a state-approved document, like a “recognition of parentage” or “declaration of parentage” with your partner, or provide financial and emotional support for the child long enough that the state legally recognizes you as the father.
You need to talk to a paternity lawyer about your options, and why establishing paternity is important for your future.
You Want to Divvy Up Your Estate
Estate planning law is even less straightforward than you might think. The process involves much more than simply hiring a lawyer to divvy up your financial assets and property when you pass away. Estate planning may entail the following:
Avoiding probate: Investopedia puts it that “Probate is the analysis and transfer administration of estate assets previously owned by a deceased person. The probate court provides the final ruling on division and distribution of assets to beneficiaries“. If you have a will stipulating what will happen to your property and assign an executor of that will, you can avoid the probate process.
Determining what happens to your estate in the meantime: If the owner of an estate passes away, the estate is still subject to tax. In many cases, the descendants will take up the tax to pay them. Similarly, even after the demise of the owner, the estate(s) will still need to be maintained. Usually, there will be a transitory period during which the executor of the will Will go through the red tape or paperwork to process the transfer to the new owner(s)/descendants. You must talk to your estate planning lawyer about making these arrangements for the transitory period.
Assigning a power of attorney (POA): A healthcare power of attorney makes medical decisions for you if you are not capable of doing so yourself. This includes a period when one is suffering from a terminal illness, a degenerative disease process or simply growing old. In such situations, it is important that you choose someone you can trust to take charge of your medical decisions while you relate to a lawyer everything this relationship entails.
Tying up any final arrangements: Use estate planning as an opportunity to make any final arrangements. That may include anything from funeral or burial plans to designating guardianship for young children.
When You Need to Manage a Trust Fund
If you are working on acquiring a trust fund and to manage that trust fund, it is wise to work closely with a trust administration lawyer.
Let’s back up for a minute. What exactly is a trust fund?
The Balance explains that “a trust fund is a special type of legal entity that holds property for the benefit of another person, group, or organization“. If you are setting up a trust fund, you should know that three parties are usually involved, including the grantor, the beneficiary, and the trustee.
If you are the grantor, for example, you will need to establish what you would like to donate to the fund (cash, artwork, stocks, real estate, etc.), and then pin down the terms of your donation.
The beneficiary is an individual, group, or organization that will receive your donation based on the terms of the agreement, while the trustee will enforce the donation once the terms are met.
Trusts are typically established to pass on assets or wealth while avoiding probate or to set aside funds for a particular purpose well into the future, like setting aside funds for a child’s or grandchild’s college education.
You’ve Been Charged With a Criminal Offense
People naturally acts promptly when they are being charged with a criminal case because it becomes so obvious to them they can get exonerated from the crime so easily without the intervention of a criminal lawyer. However, quite a number of people still hesitate for some reasons not fully understood. If you are accused of a crime, do not hesitate to seek legal help.
If you spend any amount of time debating whether to or when to hire a lawyer, you may end up wasting that whole time. A criminal lawyer can help you as soon as you face criminal charges.
What does a criminal lawyer do? A criminal lawyer will help you gather evidence, he may conduct an independent investigation, and help you avoid the criminal charges, if possible. In some cases when sentencing may be inevitable, your lawyer will negotiate a lower sentence for you. Your lawyer can help you pay lower fines, serve less jail time, and suffer fewer legal consequences. This they may be able to do based on your past track record of good character, and/or willingness to attend an alcohol or drug rehab program.
When You Need to Negotiate Bail
Of course, some criminal activity may land you in jail even before you get the opportunity to call a lawyer or do anything else. In this case, you should consider working closely with bail bonding companies to negotiate your release from jail. But you may still be wondering, how does that process work?
In many cases, you are eligible for release immediately after posting bail. However, this is not applicable to violent crimes like spousal abuse, etc. Even among those eligible for release, the fact that bail is often prohibitively expensive can remain a problem.
Bail bonds and bail bond agents are one great way to work around this. A bail bonds agent will negotiate your release on your behalf, in exchange for a fee and some collateral. However, as long as you attend your court hearing as legally required, they will return the collateral, but they would keep a 7-10% of the fee as their profit.
I know you have your reservations as far as hiring a lawyer for some of these cases is concerned. However, this quick overview should show you one thing, at least; that a lawyer can help you through some of life’s most difficult moments like the ones talked about above, and even more.
Remember, many lawyers choose not to represent themselves in court. Instead, they would rather work with an attorney who specializes in whatever area of law brings them to court in the first place. Take note of that and make your decisions accordingly. Working with a lawyer can save you time, money, and help you avoid any legal pitfalls, like missing important deadlines for paperwork or failing to file the appropriate paperwork altogether.
Work with a lawyer in the appropriate field of law, and optimize your chances for success in or out of court. And you are still confused if you should hire a lawyer or not, reach out to us know the comments below.