A divorce attorney is a lawyer who specializes in family law issues, specifically divorces. Since there are numerous laws specific to each jurisdiction, a good divorce attorney will help her client understand her options and rights under the laws of her jurisdiction. In some cases, a divorce decree can be issued quickly, without spending much time or money for a courtroom battle. In other cases, especially if the couple has children or marital assets, the divorce may be contested. If that happens, the divorce attorney will need to represent her client to ensure she is not taken advantage of by her spouse during a lengthy and expensive courtroom trial.
When a couple goes through the divorce process, one of the main things they may debate is the division of their marital property or the property they purchased during the course of their marriage. With the help of their divorce attorneys, many couples can quickly agree on the property settlement agreement, the agreement that dictates how the property should be divided. In the alternative, if the couples cannot resolve their property issues, they will probably head to court—a step that will rack up plenty of billable hours for their attorneys.
Often times, the divorcing couple has at least one child. A divorce attorney will need to work with her client to decide where she would like the child to reside and how she wants the child to split her time. In many cases, the divorcing couple will not be able to decide who will have primary custody over the child. It is up to the divorce attorney to represent her client and fight for her client’s wishes in a courtroom setting. If a case goes to trial, the court will decide what situation is in the best interest of the child. In addition, the divorce lawyer will make sure that child support payments are correctly calculated and approved by the court.
Sometimes a divorce attorney handles situations other than divorce. She may represent her client for an annulment or a legal separation. An annulment is slightly different from a divorce because it practically erases the marriage. A divorce lawyer handling an annulment will claim the marriage was invalid and consequently never happened. She can also establish a legal separation where the couple remains married, but no longer resides together. She will ensure the financial assets of her client are protected from her spouse during the period of separation.
Other issues that a divorce attorney may handle are prenuptial or premarital agreements and post-divorce questions. Many couples believe that a tight prenuptial agreement will make the divorce process cheaper and easier. A good divorce lawyer should be able to draft a prenuptial agreement so her client’s current and future assets are protected before she gets married. In addition, the attorney may be called upon to answer post-divorce questions. For example, a client may inquire into when she can change her married name, how to modify a divorce decree, and how to change the alimony or child support payments.