Do I Need A Divorce Lawyer If We Agree On Everything?
One of the questions I get asked the most by individuals is whether they need a divorce lawyer if they agree on everything. The answer is yes with an asterisk (*). I say with an asterisk because if there is property involved, you will almost always need a divorce lawyer. If there is no property, I would still say the answer is a yes but the necessity is less finite. The plus side is this: If you and your spouse or common law partner are in agreement, I have good news for you, your costs just plummeted!
Let’s discuss why the answer is so often yes:
1. Everything Is Not Always Everything
Often clients come in and tell me they have everything sorted out. I generally listen to what they say and make notes on everything they have stated. Once my clients have outlined everything they have discussed with their spouse, I will go through my checklist of “in case” circumstances. For example, in case the kids pursue post-secondary education, how will those costs be split? In case either party moves on, how will they address introducing the new partner to the children? Or in case the house doesn’t sell or one party can’t refinance the property, how will the house be dealt with? Who gets the net sale proceeds?
The point is, even for the couples who have everything agreed on, there are often aspects that haven’t been considered, and dealing with those aspects can help save a lot of cost in the future. A divorce lawyer can help ensure that you consider issues that may arise in the future since as we all know, prevention is better than reaction.
2. What About Shared Property?
As I alluded to above, when property is involved, it is almost always necessary for a lawyer to draft the contract and to ensure that the agreement is in line with the current legislation. In Alberta, the Matrimonial Property Act governs the distribution of property amongst married couples, whereas common law couples do not have any legislation that serves the same function. If you are married, the Matrimonial Property Act lays out specific requirements for an agreement to be considered valid. It is imperative to have a divorce lawyer prepare the contract properly to protect your interests so that you don’t have to visit the lawyer again later for easily preventable problems. Similarly, even in common law situations, it is critical that a lawyer draft the contract properly to ensure that neither party can come back after the other.
I have many clients who come and tell me that they don’t have any property, just kids and spousal support/partner support. Even in these circumstances, while in theory an individual could file on their own, the paperwork is not simple, and the wording is critical to ensure that the divorce reflects exactly what is the intention of the parties. Lawyers are educated, trained and experienced in utilizing proper legal language to not only reflect what their clients want, but also wording things in a way that the court wants.
3. The Appropriate Paperwork Will Be Completed By Your Divorce Lawyer
One of the biggest problems I see is when clients have tried to begin the process themselves, and therefore they file what they “believed” to be the proper paperwork. The reality is just like a road trip, you can get to any destination along various paths. Some of those paths will be long, expensive and tiresome. Others will be short, financially savvy and relaxed. A divorce lawyer will help you pick the appropriate path for your journey. Unfortunately, sometimes a long journey is simply the only path, but with the right legal counsel, the journey can be outlined with markers and step by step progression. As another example, a divorce lawyer may put temporary protections in place until the divorce is completed, just to add that little bit of extra protection to help things get to the end.
Whether you are in agreement, working towards an agreement, or just need some advice on divorce as a whole, feel free to give us a call (403 380-6005) or send us a message and allow us the opportunity to help you. We don’t want to make divorce or separation more complicated than it has to be, but we want to make sure that our client’s interests are protected.