As you prepared to spend the rest of your life with your significant other – share a home, raise a family, and enjoy each other’s company – you probably don’t go into the relationship wondering what should happen if either or both of you wish to end it. Divorce is not as celebrated as weddings, yet they are a fact of life as the rate of failed marriages remains high. Regardless of whether or not the circumstances that led to your divorce were amicable, it is important to know that hiring an attorney who specializes in divorce is helpful. If you believe you can successfully end your marriage without legal help, you may wish to reconsider.
Are divorce lawyers necessary? Some may think it excessive to let lawyers in on the proceedings. Indeed, these days one can easily dissolve a marriage with the right paperwork. If you have no children or valuable possessions to speak of, you may think all you need to do is sign a paper, make sure everything’s legal, then get on with the rest of your lives…apart. It would be nice to think everything can go as easily as that, but even in the most amicable break-ups there are things that should be handled with the guidance of legal counsel.
Why? Divorce lawyers aren’t solely for the rich to protect their assets. Even if you are middle-class with a modest income, you may have property that needs to be divided or sold when your marriage ends. Everything you purchased with your spouse – furniture, cars, stocks, even season tickets – can become a point of contention in divorce proceedings. Eventually you will disagree on the fate of something, and you’ll find headaches are lessened when you have legal help in your corner.
It is worth noting, too, that if you contributed financially to a project or endeavor run or owned by your ex-spouse, you may be eligible to receive compensation going forward. Consider the case of actor Michael Douglas and his ex-wife, who claimed she was entitled to a share of profits on the sequel to a film he made. Douglas’ film Wall Street was made while the couple was still married, and their divorce stipulated that his ex would receive money earned from that and other films done during their marriage. With the release of the sequel, the former Mrs. Douglas charged that the second film fell under ancillary rights, covered under the conditions of their divorce.