3 reasons legal representation is crucial during a Tennessee divorce

Legal representation may lower the risk that a divorcing person will face needless losses, accept an imbalanced settlement or require modifications later.

Divorce is often a complex and confusing process, but despite this fact, many people in Chattanooga may consider completing it without the assistance of an attorney. Some people may wish to avoid the cost of securing representation, while others may think that their divorce cases are too straightforward to merit hiring a lawyer. However, the following factors all make legal assistance indispensable for most people who are ending their marriages in Tennessee.

1. Reducing overall financial losses

Divorce typically leads to higher living costs and the termination of various economic benefits that come with marriage. The associated financial losses can burden most people and older adults in particular. According to The Chicago Tribune, new research suggests that divorced adults over age 62 are much more likely to live in poverty than their married peers. Poverty rates for married couples are 4 percent, while rates for divorced man and women are, respectively, 14 and 30 percent.

Many people appreciate the financial burden that divorce creates and consider reducing their expenses by limiting their legal costs. However, spouses should remember that failing to seek spousal support or claim assets might have huge consequences in the long run. As an example, The New York Times notes that older spouses who don't obtain an appropriate division of retirement assets may forfeit hundreds of thousands of dollars. The net gains that come with a more balanced settlement may fully offset the costs of securing legal representation.

2. Addressing spousal misconduct

Unfortunately, during divorce, some spouses refuse to cooperate or even attempt to avoid complying with state laws on property division, child support or alimony. For instance, deliberate concealment of marital or separate assets, which can lead to an unbalanced division of property or inappropriate alimony awards, is a surprisingly common issue in divorce. According to The Huffington Post, one study suggests that spouses hide assets in two out of three marriages.

A divorce attorney who is familiar with these tactics may be able to help a spouse uncover any misconduct and pursue an appropriate settlement. In contrast, people who forgo representation may agree to a disadvantageous settlement based on coercion, deceit or other inappropriate behaviors.

3. Reaching lasting settlements

Some people may think that securing advantageous terms during an initial divorce settlement isn't critical because those terms can be modified later. However, under Tennessee law, some aspects of a divorce decree, such as property division, are not eligible for post-judgment modifications. Additionally, pursuing modifications can be a more time-consuming and challenging task than many people realize.

A family law attorney can help a person seek a settlement that protects his or her rights and is tailored to fit his or her long-term goals. This can reduce the risk that a person will need to seek modifications later, aside from ones that are made necessary by unforeseen developments.

Seeking advice beforehand

Before committing to navigating a divorce independently, Tennessee residents can benefit from at least consulting with a family law attorney. During this meeting, an attorney may be able to evaluate the complexity of a person's case and the available legal options. This can help a divorcing spouse fully understand the costs or benefits of completing the process with or without representation.