Contact Our Firm for a Consultation

TV appearances

news article

Do I Need A Lawyer Before Signing Divorce Papers?

When a divorce occurs, it is not an easy process. Not only are emotions running high on both sides, but there are also a number of factors to take into consideration, such as custody agreements, child support and alimony payments, division of property, and other important details. Because of this, there will be many steps involved in making a divorce final, and many documents that will be drafted by attorneys for you to read and sign. Unfortunately, many people are not thinking clearly during divorce proceedings, and thus tend to sign documents they either have barely read or not even read at all. Needless to say, this often leads to misunderstandings and additional legal problems down the road. To keep this from happening, it’s usually best to consult a lawyer prior to signing anything associated with your divorce. Though not necessary, it can save you lots of time, worry, and financial difficulties.

Read the Divorce Decree Carefully
For most couples getting a divorce, they are often very anxious to sign the divorce decree, making the divorce official. However, before doing so, it’s recommended that you read the decree very carefully, making sure you fully understand all parts of it and agree to the terms listed. For example, the decree usually contains orders issued by the presiding judge, and they sometimes contain orders that must be completed within a certain period of time, such as when the first child support or alimony payment must be made. Also, it’s crucial to read the decree to make sure the court did not make any mistakes on the document. From putting in the wrong amount of money for alimony or child support payments to other mistakes that could dramatically impact your divorce, verifying everything is correct before signing is imperative. Therefore, have both you and your attorney look over the decree before you sign on the dotted line.

Can Signed Divorce Papers be Contested?
While it’s possible to contest divorce papers that have been signed, it can be a difficult, time-consuming, and costly process. In most cases, the defense you would use would be having signed the papers under duress, and therefore not having time to consult with an attorney so that you fully understood all aspects of the divorce decree. Or, if you can prove you were suffering from a physical or mental issue that impaired your thinking at the time you signed the papers, you may be able to contest the decree. However, since the court has usually taken a great amount of time to deal with your divorce case, once the papers are signed, the court will in all likelihood hold you to the terms of the decree.

Should I Trust My Ex-Spouse’s Lawyer?
In some divorce proceedings, one spouse will let their ex-spouse and their attorney handle all the paperwork, and this can be a mistake. After all, the attorney working for your ex-spouse is determined to see their client get the best deal possible, so it’s likely there may be wording in the decree that would not work in your favor. Because of this, it’s advised you never go through a divorce proceeding without legal representation. Even if you and your spouse have little property and no children, there may still be certain aspects of the decree that require clarification. Rather than trust any details of your divorce to another attorney who may in fact be working against you, hire your own attorney to help you navigate the complexities of your divorce.

What if I Disagree with the Divorce Papers?
While it’s possible your spouse or their attorney may attempt to pressure you into signing divorce papers you may not agree with, it’s best to never take the bait and do so. Instead, always have your attorney carefully go over each and every part of the divorce decree with you. If there are aspects you feel need to be changed, never think you can sign first and then have the changes made later on. While this might happen, signing the original decree will greatly decrease the chances of getting a ruling in your favor. Instead, have your attorney file a petition with the court to contest the divorce. Even though this will lead to additional time spent in a courtroom, it will be to your advantage to ensure you come out of the divorce with the best possible deal.

Can a Divorce Occur if I Don’t Sign Papers?
In situations where one spouse wants a divorce but the other does not, it’s possible that a divorce can still happen even if one spouse chooses never to sign the papers. In these cases, this is referred to as an uncontested divorce. So long as you were properly served papers by the court and instead chose to not respond or appear at any hearings, the court will assume you have no objections to the divorce, and will usually grant the spouse seeking a divorce the ruling they desire. Therefore, rather than be like many people who are surprised to find out they are actually divorced, always work with an attorney who understands this complex process.

Trust Your Attorney
If you are going through a divorce, always work with an attorney you can trust. By doing so, you can be sure that whenever you sign a document related to your divorce, it will be done so with your best interests at heart.