Many people, who have reached an agreement with their significant other to avoid court, also want to avoid hiring attorneys. These people can file for an uncontested divorce and may think it will be simple enough to do their own paperwork. This is often a mistake. Even if you and your spouse have reached an agreement, there are many reasons to hire an Oregon divorce attorney for your uncontested divorce.
What I am referring to here is the option of jointly hiring a family law attorney to only handle the filing of your paperwork. This can only work if you and your spouse have reached a complete agreement. If you two need to work out disputes, then it is impossible to hire a joint attorney to draft and file documents on your behalf. The following are the top 5 reasons to hire someone to handle your uncontested divorce for you.
The Top 5 Reasons to Hire an Oregon Divorce Attorney for Your Uncontested Divorce
1. Technicalities exist.
There are often very technical terms that need to be included in any divorce judgment. Remember, it is a binding legal document that has a significant impact on your rights. It is often not sufficient to just use common words to describe an idea. For example, when transferring debt obligations or property rights, without exact verbiage you can be left with a completely meaningless legal document.
2. The court-provided forms are terrible.
The court-provided forms, which you can download and fill out are not very good. They serve the purpose of giving access to the legal system for those who can’t afford a family law attorney. However, they are a bare skeleton outline of what you need to put into an enforceable judgment. They should not be interpreted as a gold standard for how to draft an enforceable judgment. They also don’t allow room for every piece of information you need to include.
3. You don’t know what you don’t know.
This point piggybacks on the last one partially. There is a long list of clauses and concepts that need to be written into a quality divorce judgment. The downloadable “box check” forms do not include everything people should have in their divorce or custody judgment. By hiring an attorney, you can ensure that they include, and discuss with you, all of the options. They can be sure to place in the language and ideas that protect parties from headaches and difficulties down the road. This can range from provisions to clarify the parenting time order so it is legally enforceable, to placing language to avoid abuse of the court system in future modification actions.
4. The court system is a nightmare to navigate when you are inexperienced.
When you represent yourself, filling out the forms is only half the battle. The actual process of filing the documents and ensuring the judge signs them is often more of a headache than it was to reach the agreement in the first place. Often times the documents will be rejected for one reason or another. Sometimes, the court doesn’t even correctly notify you when they reject your documents. I’ve had parties who did their own divorce call me years later after they realized the judge never signed their forms, so they had remained married years after they thought they were divorced. Having an experienced divorce attorney navigate this for you can ensure it is done properly, and quickly. You won’t need to lose sleep over it.
Probably the top reason to hire an Oregon divorce attorney for your uncontested case is this last point, it is affordable. The cost of hiring an attorney to handle an uncontested divorce is cheaper than the cost to fix any problems that arise if you do the forms incorrectly on your first effort. My office handles an Oregon uncontested divorce case for between $500-$1,000, depending on the complexity. If I get hired to fix forms done improperly, the cost is usually about five times that. This is due to the complexity of undoing a mistaken document, which is not an easy process in our court system. It is much easier and less expensive to do the documents for an uncontested divorce correctly the first time than to fix them later.
You may also find these articles useful:
How to Make an Uncontested Divorce Work for Your Case
Can I Avoid Court for My Divorce Case
Picking the Right Divorce Lawyer for You
Winning a Divorce or Custody Case: What it Really Means
Tom Brasier is an experienced family law attorney serving the greater Portland, Oregon, and SW Washington areas. He specializes in divorce, including uncontested divorce in Oregon and Washington, custody, and restraining orders (protective orders). You can contact him at Brasier Law his Portland, Oregon-based family law firm, call for your free initial consultation at 1 (503) 855-4777, or use the contact form below.
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