In hindsight, people who have been divorced can usually offer advice on how a lawyer helped or hurt their case. If thinking about divorce, it is important you understand up front the need for good legal counsel for any family law matter.
Divorce is the process of dissolving the legal relationship between you and your spouse. While you do not need to hire an attorney, the decisions you make during divorce impact your life far into the future. Before you are granted a divorce, you must resolve issues with your spouse concerning property, finances, support and children.
Experienced attorneys who handle family law are seasoned litigators who understand contract law, property division, the rights of mothers and fathers, child custody and the civil and sometimes criminal court system. Choosing the right counsel has a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case and your fortunes down the road. So what do you need? Consider these points:
- Experience: Retain an attorney who practices solely in family law. Even if your friend the personal injury attorney is willing to help you out, ask for a referral instead.
- Ability: Even simple, amicable divorces can turn into bitter high conflict cases. High conflict cases give divorce a bad name, so make sure you have aggressive counsel willing to protect your rights.
- Forum: Choosing an attorney unafraid to mediate or litigate gives you options for handling your case, whichever way it turns.
Heading for Divorce: Three Tips To Consider
It is easy to make small mistakes that have a big impact during divorce. When thinking about divorce, skilled legal counsel helps you anticipate problems that could dim a bright post-divorce future.
If the health of your marital relationship is uncertain, consider these tips:
- Financial literacy: If you suspect your spouse is thinking of divorce—or if you are—get a good understanding of your financial situation. Know where and how your wealth is held. Make copies of important documents and tax returns. If you are not familiar with the finances, review account statements to ensure unexplained sums were not transferred out of investment or other accounts.
- Keep conflict low: Lower conflict divorces cost less in time and money. Mediation is a terrific avenue toward divorce for couples who can still work together for their common good.
- Loose lips: If your spouse makes an informal promise that sounds too good to be true at the outset of divorce, it probably is. Do not agree to conditions proposed by a spouse without speaking with an attorney, especially if there seems to be a threat involved. Before, during and after a contested divorce, be careful about what you say to mutual friends and what you write in an email or on social media websites.
Updating Your Estate Plan After Your Divorce
If you’ve been through a contested divorce, you’ve already fought to hold onto your separate property and a fair portion of your marital estate. So why let your estate plan give it all back to your ex? That’s what could happen if you don’t review your testamentary documents and financial products that list your beneficiaries.
After divorce, you need to revise your will for a couple of reasons. First, you might not have retained ownership of all the property that’s listed. You can’t give away what you don’t own. But more importantly, your ex-spouse is probably first and foremost among your beneficiaries. If something should happen to you before you revise your will, your worldly wealth may be headed toward the person you least want to get it.
Now, take a look at your financial instruments. The insurance policies, annuities, brokerage accounts and bank accounts you held onto almost certainly have a beneficiary listed. Upon your passing, those instruments transfer automatically to the named beneficiary, who is most likely your ex-spouse.
And what about your retirement plan? If you were the primary earner in your marriage, the court probably severed your qualified plan – 401(k) or IRA – with a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). But if you were part of a two-career household, your retirement accounts could still be intact. If so, they no doubt name your ex as the beneficiary.
Finally, did you create a trust to hold any of your separate property? Take a look at the named beneficiary there. If it’s a revocable trust, you can amend it, naming someone else. If it is an irrevocable trust, you will need the beneficiary’s permission to make that change. If you didn’t bring that up with your ex during your divorce, good luck handling it now.
Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah
If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506