. . . For all the same reasons you should hire a surgeon to perform your surgery. In some ways, hiring a lawyer versus representing yourself is like the difference between plastic surgery with a scalpel and plastic surgery with a chain saw.
A skilled divorce lawyer can help divide your marital estate and time with your children along neat and tidy lines that will leave you and your family with the fewest scars. Trying to do it yourself can leave your family and finances sliced and diced so severely that they are unrecognizable in the end.
You may think it’s easy enough to simply “divide by two” but divorce lawyers have more than one go-to move. They navigate a very tricky and nuanced area of the law. Did you know that when custody and placement are in dispute, your lawyer must present evidence based on sixteen different factors that the court must consider? If child support is in dispute, they must present evidence on sixteen more. If spousal support is disputed, ten more factors come into play and if property division is in dispute, they must present evidence on thirteen additional factors. In many cases, ALL of those issues are in dispute which means you must present evidence on fifty-five different factors. Would you know which ones will be most important and persuasive to the judge? Do you know what kind of evidence the judge expects (and wants!) to hear on each factor? Do you know the names of the cases that support your evidence on each factor? Your lawyer does.
Another important reason to hire a lawyer is because they anticipate problems and prevent them from happening. For example, dividing retirement accounts is tricky business. It is not enough to simply agree that a pension should be divided “fifty-fifty.” There are special laws and rules that dictate how pensions must be divided. If you attempt this yourself, you may not know for many many years that you did it incorrectly—at which time it is much more difficult and expensive to fix. It also may be impossible to undo the damage if, for example, one spouse’s interest in the pension was not paid over or preserved as required by law.
There are also agreements you and your spouse might like to make that are against the law or a violation of public policy. A lawyer can advise you of such agreements and offer legal alternatives to achieve your goals and objectives. For example, did you know it is illegal to get divorced in Wisconsin while you are pregnant? Did you know that it is against the law to award all the marital assets to one spouse in order to make the other spouse eligible for public assistance?
Hopefully, this is your first and only divorce. Your lawyer likely handles over fifty divorces each year and just as it is with plastic surgery, the face may change, but the anatomy remains the same. Your lawyer has not encountered your family, but she has encountered your issues many times. And just like a highly trained surgeon, she is you best hope for a pain free procedure and speedy recovery.
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