Sunday, December 1, 2019

Are You Really Saving Money by Not Hiring an Attorney?

Sometimes there are good reasons to not spend money. Maybe you don't have much money available. Maybe you are worried about the total commitment once you start spending. Maybe you think it is unnecessary to spend the money.

For important matters, the reasons to spend should outweigh the reasons to not spend. That's not always the case, however. 

If you are facing a divorce or other legal issue, the possible outcomes are so serious you should usually go with the option to hire an attorney for help.

In weighing things to make that decision, maybe you should consider, "what can go wrong" if you don't work with an attorney.  Let me list a few ways.

1.  Your Petition could omit an important issue. It might be retirement, real estate or separate property. Those can be significant factors and could cost you a lot of money.

2.  The Decree could omit something. It might be payment of medical bills, support start dates, assets or many other things.

3.  You might give up more than you should. You might divide your separate property. You could agree something is your spouse's separate property when you don't need to. You might give up retirement earned before or after the marriage, and that's not necessary.

4.  You might trigger tax consequences you did not expect.

5.  You could lose your homestead rights if the real estate is not handled correctly.

6.  Alimony might be omitted even when it is needed and justified or you might pay too much for the circumstances.

7.  You might not get a proper order dividing the retirement accounts.

8.  In negotiating, you might cut off the community estate too soon and lose out on property.

9.  You might end up negotiating without sufficient knowledge of the facts, possibilities and common terms for settlement.

10. Negotiations could turn into a protracted battle with your spouse, a very unpleasant and unproductive situation for you and your spouse.

These are common situations for people representing themselves. They are also very avoidable. These are matters that could impact the rest of your life, including your retirement years. Wouldn't you hate to look back later and wish you had worked with a lawyer to get a better deal?

This is not like the old commercial with the tag line, "Pay me now or pay me later". Here, it's closer to "Pay now or lose out forever.".  You can't undo the property division terms of the divorce decree.

You need to do it right the first time.  On legal matters, you should consult with an experienced attorney to learn the issues and plan your strategy for the best possible outcome.

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