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It’s not easy to know when you will first need a lawyer for divorce consultation. You may not be ready to throw in the towel. You may still be trying to make it work.

But, if the question of divorce is on the table, then it is never too early to speak with a family law attorney

Before we get started, let’s first address the concerns many people have seeking counsel. Talking to a lawyer about the possibility of getting a divorce is not the same thing as filing for divorce. It’s just talking. It’s about knowing your options. 

Many people avoid seeking counsel until the last minute, due to the misconception that, once you talk to a lawyer, your marriage is over. But, that’s not true. 

A trustworthy and ethical family law attorney will first educate you and talk you through your options. Your lawyer won’t be making any decisions for you.  No matter what you decide, the first step to your empowerment is walking through the doors of a family law office.

Here are a few tell-tale signs to help you know when you will need a lawyer for divorce:

When You Think Divorce Is Possible At All

Are you unhappy or have you grown apart? Is there infidelity or a lack of trust? If you have considered divorce at all, the time to contact a lawyer is as soon as possible. 

It is a common mistake to wait until after the divorce petition has been filed to seek the advice of an attorney. That is simply too late. Legal mistakes and mishaps can happen even prior to separation. You will need a lawyer beside you through all the steps of divorce.

Divorce is not often a surprise. Many partners in marriage will go to great lengths to avoid or delay divorce. However, avoiding or delaying reaching out for sound legal counsel will not determine the fate of your marriage. A trustworthy family law attorney will merely present you the options and inform you of your rights. They will never encourage your decision one way or the other.

When You Are Not Sure What To Do Next

You will know when you need a lawyer for divorce if the divorce process has become confusing and overwhelming. A divorce attorney will lay out the path to clarify the process and cater to your specific needs.

A divorce attorney can keep things on track. If you do decide to file a divorce petition – or if you have been served one – it can be difficult to manage the paperwork submission and the required legal timeline, especially while trying to balance the needs of everyday life with the emotional fall out of the divorce itself. A family law attorney will keep the ball rolling.

There are no do-overs in divorce. Having a family law attorney means you will not miss a deadline or neglect any legal duty.

When Emotions Have Clouded Your Judgment

You will know it’s time to hire a lawyer for help with your divorce if you begin to recognize that emotions are getting in the way. If the pain, guilt, or anger you may have about your marriage is getting in the way of thinking logically and rationally, then it is time to seek counsel. Family law attorneys are very familiar with how emotionally draining the divorce process can be, and they can help you through it.

For more on this, please see our blog post, The Emotional Stages of Divorce.

When You Want To Stop Fighting

Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells? Are you and your spouse still able to speak to each other in a civil manner? Divorce involves negotiation. If you cannot manage to talk to your spouse without breaking into an argument, this is a strong indicator that you need a lawyer to assist with the divorce. A good divorce attorney can de-escalate the situation.

Most people who are divorcing are looking forward to living a life free of disagreements and arguing. You know when it is time to hire a lawyer for divorce when what you want most is peace of mind.

When You Want To Protect Your Children

For divorcing spouses with children, the question of custody can be the single most concerning factor. You will know when you need a divorce lawyer if your divorce decree will include custody and visitation rights. 

The divorce decree will determine where the child is housed, when visitation occurs, who makes important legal decisions for the child, and who makes the decisions regarding a child’s education, and medical care.

To ensure you receive the custody or visitation rights that you are legally entitled to have, you will want to hire a divorce attorney.

Are you fighting in front of your kids? Protecting your kids also means protecting them from hearing you and your spouse argue. You know when you need a lawyer for divorce when your children see you argue more than they see you co-parent. The divorce of parents is an emotionally tumultuous time for children, even in the best of times, but the damage done is much worse if they witness continued conflict. 

Keeping the focus on how you will peacefully co-parent is a good strategy to maintain a positive relationship with your spouse as you go through the divorce. Prioritize your children’s health and wellbeing.  By letting an attorney handle the nitty-gritty of your divorce, this allows you to focus on what is really important – being a good parent to your children.

When You Need Financial Support

A divorce can last as short as 60 days but will usually last much longer. You will know when you need a lawyer for divorce if you need financial assistance during this interim. 

Is your spouse the breadwinner? A family law attorney will work toward a fair determination of any child support or spousal support that should be granted under Texas law.

Most importantly, do not let finances keep you in a bad or abusive marriage. For more on this, please see our blog post, How To Get Spousal Support In Texas After An Abusive Marriage.

When You Want To Get The Timing Right

You know you need a lawyer for divorce when you need help timing it out. Are you expecting a raise? Is your work undergoing a busy season? These factors should be considered when divorcing and should be discussed with your attorney.

Additionally, there are many practical advantages to divorcing at the end of a fiscal year, but let’s be real; the reality of getting through an emotional divorce during the holidays can be too much heartache. Yet, delaying divorce for the sake of the holidays may be just as bad. For more on this, please see our blog post, Five Tips for Divorcing Around the Holidays

If you have children, consider their birthdays and other important life events. Remember –  a divorce can take months. You will want to avoid getting divorced during important times of the year, as much as you can control.

When You Are Scared

Does the idea of divorce scare you? Are you afraid of what life will be like on your own? These are normal feelings. Getting through a divorce is a lot less frightening when you don’t have to do it alone. You know when you need a lawyer for divorce when you need someone on your side. Fight your fears by preparing for divorce with trustworthy counsel. 

Keep in mind, if you are scared because your spouse has threatened you, you must protect yourself first. If you are currently experiencing domestic abuse, please stop reading this article and immediately call the 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. [For the hearing impaired, please call 800-787-3224.]

Threats can be said in the heat of the moment, but if your spouse is threatening you, take them seriously. It is time to contact a divorce attorney if you are afraid of your spouse.

When You Aren’t Sure Who Owns What

Home loans, bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit card bills – You will know it is time to get a lawyer when you are uncertain how to divide your finances. During marriage, assets get entangled. The line between community property and separate property may not always be so clear. 

You want to be fair to your spouse, but you deserve what’s right for you, too. A good family law attorney can guide you through legal precedent, so you don’t find yourself losing everything but the kitchen sink.

When You Start To Imagine What Life is Like After the Divorce

We all have but one life to live. You know it’s time to get a lawyer for divorce when you are ready to move on.

Arpita Legha

Author Arpita Legha

Attorney Legha is licensed in the State of Texas and is a member of the State Bar’s Family Law Section. More about Arpita Legha.

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