If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage in St. Charles, MO, it is natural to have many questions about what to expect during the months and years ahead. Among the most common are questions regarding how you should prepare for the formal process of divorce. While divorce effectively begins once a married couple decides to end their marriage, the formal process does not begin until an individual files a petition for divorce with the St. Charles, MO family court.
The actual legal process of divorce can be incredibly stressful, time-consuming, and expensive for both spouses. Regardless of how agreeable you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are toward one another, divorce proceedings may take a significant toll on both of you. One of the best things you can do to alleviate the pressure and stress divorce can cause is to hire an experienced St. Charles, MO divorce lawyer to represent your interests.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Many people make the mistake of assuming they can work things out with their spouse and do not need legal representation as they navigate the divorce process. The reality is that divorce can be complex even when the divorcing spouses agree on most issues. There are also several options for resolving your divorce, and it may be difficult to discern the benefits and drawbacks of each of these options. Hiring an experienced St. Charles, MO divorce attorney at the beginning of the process is the best way to approach your divorce case with confidence and peace of mind.
Your attorney can handle the administrative side of your case and provide valuable legal guidance as you determine the best way to handle subsequent proceedings. For example, your divorce case will entail multiple court filings. Whether you are the petitioner or respondent in your divorce, you will need to meet the court’s deadlines and other paperwork requirements. An experienced lawyer will ensure you meet these procedural requirements.
Your lawyer will also help you determine the best approach to your divorce case. In some cases, this entails preparing for intense litigation. In others, you may explore alternative dispute resolution if your spouse is agreeable to the idea of private settlement negotiations.
How to Find the Right Lawyer
While you will find many divorce attorneys practicing in the St. Charles, MO area, it is important to find an attorney that suits your needs. Although time is certainly a critical factor in most divorce cases, rushing your decision on legal representation is not a wise choice. Take time to research local divorce attorneys and narrow your list to a few that are the most promising. Look for reviews from past clients and ask friends and family for their recommendations, especially if they had a notably positive experience with a particular divorce attorney.
Most divorce lawyers will offer free or low-cost consultations to prospective clients. Take advantage of these offers so you can find the attorney who will provide the level of legal counsel you expect. An initial consultation is an opportunity for you and a potential attorney to get to know one another, so arrive with a list of questions specific to your case.
How Will My Attorney Help?
Hiring an attorney will streamline the divorce process in several ways. First, your attorney will help you develop the best strategy for approaching your divorce case. This typically begins with helping you approach alternative dispute resolution. When divorcing spouses cannot agree or refuse to negotiate civilly with one another, divorce litigation may be unavoidable. This process will mirror the litigation process of any other civil case.
In the event you must litigate your divorce, your attorney will help prepare you for the experience, handle the scheduling of your court appearances, and help you better understand each phase of the litigation process. Unfortunately, litigation is usually time-consuming and expensive. As a result, most divorce attorneys will encourage their client to take advantage of alternative dispute resolution strategies like mediation. Even if you and your spouse cannot agree on every issue, the mediation process can help you reduce the overall time and expense required for your divorce.
Approaching Divorce Mediation With Your Attorney
Divorce mediation has quickly become the preferred method for handling divorce in the United States for several reasons:
- Mediation costs much less than litigation. While you will still need an attorney for this process, you will pay much less in legal fees than you would pay for extensive litigation.
- Divorce mediation allows you to retain more control over your divorce outcome. If you litigate, the judge hearing your case has the final say.
- You can keep your divorce proceedings entirely private. Litigating your divorce in court means that everything said during every court session becomes public record, accessible to anyone. Divorce often entails private matters, and if you would rather these issues not become public knowledge, mediation is the better option.
- Mediation unfolds at your own pace. Some couples resolve their divorces within just a few sessions, while others may require a few months. However, the overall process is much less time-consuming and stressful than litigation. You and your spouse can schedule sessions on your own time.
A Skilled Attorney Is Essential
Many people operate under the misconception that choosing mediation means you do not need an attorney. However, the reality is that divorce mediators cannot and will not provide legal advice to either spouse during mediation sessions. They can clarify legal statutes and help keep the conversation productive, but they cannot say anything that serves the interests of either party.
As a result, you still need legal representation as you approach the mediation process. Your divorce attorney will ensure your interests remain protected and help you strengthen your negotiations. If you are unsure what to expect from divorce mediation in Missouri and how it will work in your unique divorce case, reach out to an experienced St. Charles, MO divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you approach your divorce with the confidence necessary to obtain an equitable, satisfying resolution to your case.