Making the decision to get a divorce is never easy
There are so many things to consider – from the emotional to the logistical.
One of the most important decisions you will make during this difficult time involves choosing a lawyer to represent you.
But how do you go about making that decision? What do you need to know?
To be clear, family law issues are notoriously complicated. It can be an emotional process.
Here’s good news: There is help available.
In this article, we’ll go over some tips on how to choose a divorce lawyer in Charlotte for your individual needs.
Do you need a divorce lawyer?
The first step in getting separated and divorced is to determine whether or not you actually need a lawyer.
In some cases, it may be advisable to go through the divorce proceedings without legal representation.
For example, if both parties are in agreement on all issues and there is no property or children involved, you may be able to handle the divorce yourself at the SelfServe Center at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse.
For marital estates with minimal assets, that can be a good way to get divorced at a minimal cost.
On the other hand, if you have complex financial assets or children from the marriage, it is probably in your best interest to seek out legal counsel.
What are the benefits of hiring a lawyer?
There are many benefits to hiring a lawyer to help you through your divorce.
For one, a family law attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities under the law.
They can also provide valuable guidance and support as you make important decisions about your future.
In addition, a divorce attorney will work to protect your best interests during negotiations with your spouse and his or her attorney.
How do attorneys help with a Divorce?
Most divorce attorneys can provide representation and guidance through the divorce process.
This includes helping to negotiate a settlement agreement with your spouse, representing you in court hearings, and handling all paperwork related to the divorce.
In addition, an attorney can advise you on issues such as:
What should you look for when choosing a lawyer?
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an attorney to represent you in your divorce.
First, it is important to find a lawyer who handles cases like yours and who has a reputation for professional ethics.
Cases that involve children and complex financial assets may be time-sensitive.
Is the attorney taking on additional clients for representation? Do they have the time to move forward as legal counsel without delay?
It is also important to find a lawyer with whom you feel understands you and your individual needs.
To be clear, your divorce is unique.
What kind of lawyer do I need?
What is important to someone else or how divorce proceedings ended up for a friend or family may not apply to your family and your legal needs.
It’s a good idea to understand legal billing, hourly rates, and the cost of legal services.
Divorce cases can be expensive, necessitating assistance by:
- Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
- Family Therapist – Custody Issues
- Parenting Coordinator
- Best Interest Counsel
- Forensic Accountants
- Experts in Business Valuation
That’s particularly true when the separation and divorce involve a large marital estate, substantial assets, and/or there are children involved.
We believe your prospective attorney should feel comfortable working with other legal professionals through complex custody, visitation, support, and financial issues.
How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?
The cost of hiring a lawyer will vary depending on the complexity of your divorce case.
In general, you can expect to pay an hourly rate for legal services. Senior attorneys with the firm ordinarily charge a higher hourly rate than associate attorneys.
Some lawyers may charge something called a True General Retainer to reserve the availability of the firm and divorce lawyers for representation.
A True General Retainer is NOT billed against. It is earned immediately. Thereafter, legal fees may be billed weekly or bi-weekly at an hourly rate.
It is a good idea to get an estimate of the costs associated with getting divorced.
The best way to do this is to have a consultation with the lawyer.
Divorce lawyers in Charlotte often charge a Consultation Fee, which may a flat rate.
If you are considering filing for divorce, please contact one of the family law attorneys the Powers Law Firm PA in Charlotte NC to schedule a consultation.
Prior to speaking with an attorney, we will conduct a Conflict Check to confirm the availability of the law firm for representation.
What does a divorce lawyer do?
- A divorce attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities under the NC Divorce Laws
- Your family law attorney will work to protect your best interests during negotiations with your spouse and his or her attorney
- It is important to find a lawyer who you feel comfortable communicating with, and who you can trust to represent your best interests
Litigation or Collaboration?
If you need help negotiating specific issues, then hiring a divorce attorney is likely a good idea.
Some family law attorneys in Charlotte focus their practice on something called Collaborative Law or Collaborative Divorce.
Some people choose to end their marriage without any legal assistance.
If you act as your own lawyer, you will be held to all the same rules and regulations as any other lawyer in the state.
We think that puts you at a tremendous disadvantage, especially if your spouse is represented by experienced legal counsel.
You should also be familiar with the different types of divorces available to you and the procedures for filing the appropriate materials with the court.
To be clear, divorce is complicated.
Even if you and your spouse are in agreement about the terms of your divorce, it is still a good idea to at least consult with an attorney.
Many people choose to hire an attorney to help them navigate the legal system and ensure that their rights are protected and that things are done correctly.
Some people choose to hire an attorney to represent them in court, while others consult with an attorney for advice and guidance, ultimately deciding marital counseling may be a worthwhile venture.
Do I need a male or female lawyer for a divorce?
You do not need to hire a male or female lawyer for a divorce.
Family law attorneys tend to be gender-neutral, and willing to help whoever needs assistance, be that a woman or man.
Remember, the most important thing is finding an attorney with whom you feel comfortable and who genuinely enjoys helping people.
Why choose a local attorney in Charlotte?
There are many reasons to choose a local attorney from Charlotte.
We think it helps to establish an attorney client relationship with an attorney who is familiar with the local court system, procedures, and protocols. Mecklenburg County has rather complicated Local Rules of Domestic Court.
Local, Charlotte attorneys are likely to have experience working with the other lawyers and judges in Mecklenburg County.
This can be important, especially if your case goes to trial.
What does Contested Divorce mean?
A contested divorce is a divorce in which the parties are unable to agree on some or all of the terms.
This type of divorce can be expensive and time-consuming, and it often leads to litigation (a legal battle).
In most cases, the decision about who will get custody of the children, how much child support will be paid, and who will pay spousal support is left up to a judge in District Court.
Juries do not decide Family Court matters in North Carolina.
What does Uncontested Divorce mean?
An uncontested divorce generally means that the parties are able to agree on all of the terms of their divorce.
This type of divorce can often be completed relatively quickly, without litigation and the associated expenses.
What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a type of divorce in which the parties agree, by contract, to work together in good faith and transparency to reach a resolution.
This type of divorce often involves hiring a team of professionals, such as attorneys, financial advisors, and therapists, to help the parties reach an agreement.
Who are Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals – CCDP?
The Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals is a group of matrimonial or family law attorneys, advisors, and professional therapists who work together to help couples in the Charlotte area resolve their divorce without going to court.
What is the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals – IACP?
The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) is a global organization that promotes and supports collaborative approaches to conflict resolution.
The IACP provides resources, information, and training for professionals who work with couples in conflict. The IACP also offers a directory of collaborative divorce lawyers.
When choosing divorce attorneys, we think it is a good idea to work with someone who is a member of the IACP.
This will ensure that your lawyer is trained in the collaborative approach and is committed to resolving conflict peacefully.
Bill Powers and Caroline Wingate Strauss at the Powers Law Firm PA, are both members of the IACP and CCDP.
How long does it take to get divorced in Charlotte NC?
The minimum amount of time to get a divorce, under the NC Divorce Laws, is one year (12 months).
The parties cannot file for divorce until they have been legally separated for one year. Legal separation for the mandatory period cannot be waived by the parties.
Divorce cases can be lengthy and emotionally draining, which is why it is so important to choose a lawyer you like and trust on a personal level.
A lot depends on how willing the parties are willing to put emotions aside and work through their respective issues in a reasonable fashion.
What happens if there is Domestic Violence in the relationship?
If there is evidence of domestic violence in the relationship, we recommend working with a divorce lawyer who has substantial experience in the criminal justice system and handling Domestic Violence Protective Orders.
Chapter 50B – the Domestic Violence Law in North Carolina, provides certain protections for victims of domestic violence, including orders for protection and custody.
Our divorce lawyers are well-versed in both bringing actions alleging Domestic Violence and defending them in both criminal and civil court.
We strongly recommend, when talking to a divorce lawyer, you immediately disclose issues of domestic violence with a soon-to-be ex-spouse.