When you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, you have the right to go to the courthouse and file for it on your own. However, depending on a number of factors, your divorce can be more complex than you initially imagine. You could be at risk of losing more than you realize if the case does not go your way.
Instead of risking custody and support of your children, your finances, and even your previous last name if you changed it when you got married, you can get a better outcome by hiring a lawyer. You can get through a divorce easier if you hire an attorney who practices in family law to represent you.
Filing for Child Custody and Support
One of the main reasons to hire a lawyer who practices in family law involves filing for child custody and support. Minor children under the age of 18 are legally entitled to access to and financial support from both parents. However, for their own safety and wellbeing, your children may fare better by living with you than your spouse.
You can hire a family law attorney to request that the judge grant you custody, as well as support payments from your spouse. The judge may grant you physical custody, but award shared custody between you and your spouse for the sake of your children. You also may get support payments that last until your youngest child reaches the age of 18.
Protecting Your Finances
Your family law attorney can also protect your finances during and after a divorce. If you earn more than your spouse, you could be found liable for having to pay spousal maintenance. However, you may not be able to afford large monthly payments.
Your lawyer can argue for an amount that fits in line with what you earn and spares you from financial hardship. They may also argue that your spouse does not need spousal maintenance if your spouse earns a sufficient income and can support themself without your help.
Finally, you can ask the family law court to give you back your last name if you had it changed after you got married. The judge can issue a change of name for you along with your divorce decree. Your attorney can make this formal request at the same time they file your divorce. They can also file your child custody and support payment petitions.