submitted by Carla V. Risoldi, LLC, risoldilawoffices.com
Q. My husband and I want to resolve our divorce without an attorney or through mediation to save time and money. I think this is a good idea, but I have heard horror stories. What do you think?
A. I have seen people successfully do a no-fault divorce without attorneys, or through mediation, and it sometimes works. However, it is a risky way to proceed with dissolution of a marriage, and it is always best to have your own attorney who is looking out for only your interest. Certainly, if you have assets or debts, make less than your spouse or have other issues, you should never just sign-off on a divorce without consulting with an attorney.
Some “cheapie” divorces will get you divorced, but then after it is too late, you realize that you did not follow the procedures to divide assets and debts and perhaps receive alimony. Many people do not realize what a marital estate consists of and miss a major asset such as a pension under the mistaken theory that it cannot be divided until the spouse retires (in fact, if you do not divide it as part of the divorce you have usually waived any claim to it). When people come into my office with these situations, it is often impossible to reopen the cases and get this done, so they are stuck with being divorced but no other arrangements made for division of assets, debts, and for receipt of alimony. Based on my 20-plus years experience, it is often easier and cheaper, all things considered, to get good legal advice from day one as part of your divorce, so at least you know what your legal rights and obligations are, prior to realizing too late that you did it the wrong way.