Minnesota's Family Law Blog

Do I Really Need A Divorce Lawyer?

Man looking at sign wondering if he need to hire a divorce lawyer

UPDATED: Feb 2024

Do You Really Need a Divorce Lawyer?

The short answer is, maybe. If you rent an apartment and have no kids you probably don’t need a divorce attorney. However, if you have a house, kids, retirement or a non-marital claim you need to hire an attorney. It’s that simple. 

In the 20+ years, I’ve been doing this, I can’t tell you how many cases I have seen where people are making $30k, $40k, or more per year, and they do not get to a divorce lawyer. I am always truly shocked when I see the mistakes that are made. 

I actually have a whole catagory on this blog talking about Divorce Mistakes. Now I know what you’re thinking “Yeah the divorce lawyers says we all need them!” I don’t! As I mentioned above if you have a simple the divorce the court forms are perfect for it!

But…let me give you one example that I just resolved and with and that is a case where the parties did the divorce themselves with no lawyers.

Well, they didn’t really address the whole mortgage thing, this mean that the husband who let the wife buy his share of the house from him, still has his name on the mortgage and because of this he can’t buy a new house!

This would have been an easy fix if he had just met with a lawyer.

Hiring A Lawyer Doesn’t Mean World War 3

Just because you hire a divorce lawyer does not mean it’s a battle! The fact is that most of the cases we handle are done through paperwork and court filings not actually going to trial. A good lawyer will try and avoid going to court!

There are so many tactics that divorce lawyers can use to get you the same result but not having to go through a trial, the best part is it’s not that expensive to do it!

Cheaper Than A Realtor

When you sell a house you pay 4-5% commission and you don’t even blink at the cost. In fact, when you look at the cost of a realtor on a $400,000 house that could be $20,000!

And all the realtor does is list it on line, talk about the “bones” of the house and do a few showings. I can promise you a $20,000 divorce will take a LOT more work than that (In fact I’d say it might be hard to get to that much in legal fees for a normal divorce).

So, no problem with paying a realtor $20,000 for your house but for some reason when it comes to your kids, your property, reitremen spousal maintence, and everything they own, people consider doing it themselves.

Ok, Ok, I hear you, you’re saying, “Yes, but don’t you make your living doing divorces? Isn’t this just a way to make more money?” No it’s not! The way I (and other divorce lawyers) make more money is by cleaning up the mess made when you don’t have an attorney. 

That example about the house I gave you above? To fix that it cost about $5,200. If he had hired me from the start it would have been under $1,000.

Sometimes we can fix the mess (for example changing parenting time) other times we can’t fix the problem (missing out on alimony for example).

But I hear when people say they can’t afford to hire a lawyer. Well, we aren’t cheap, it’s true. But, with some common sense and doing a little of the work yourself you can save thousands of dollars and make the divorce smoother and cheaper!

Most non-contested divorces run anywhere from $1000-$2,00. That’s all! That’s a lot cheaper than that realtor we were talking about earlier.

For that you can get an experienced attorney looking at your case, identifying issues you may not know about, doing the legal paperwork and best of all, if there is a mistake the lawyer should have malpractice coverage to pay for the problem he or she created.

So, if you have kids, a house, or property, please do not do your own divorce. Shop around, get a lawyer to perform an “Uncontested Divorce” and you’ll be much better off.

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