Anyone that is considering divorce and unsure about their ability to provide for themselves after their marriage ends should consider hiring an attorney to make sure their needs are met. Depending on your situation, spousal support may be an option.
Determine if spousal support is an option
Spousal support, also known as alimony or maintenance, is only available in some states. More importantly, it only makes sense if your soon-to-be ex-spouse can afford to provide you with support. If your spouse has little income, or if your incomes are very similar, then alimony is unlikely to be awarded.
Alimony is falling out of style
In the past, a husband was thought to have an obligation to take care of his ex-wife until she got remarried or died. This idea was also tied to fault divorce. The thought was that a husband should not be able to improve his financial position by dumping his wife. Today, alimony has been eliminated in many states. In states where it exists, it is typically based more on the idea of creating a fair distribution of marital assets. For example, if one spouse stayed home while the other went to medical school, then a court may order the new doctor to pay money to support his or her former spouse for three years to essentially pay the spouse back for the homemaking he or she contributed to the marriage.
An experienced lawyer will be creative
Choosing an experienced spousal support lawyer is important because they will help craft a strategy to ensure your needs are met. You should plan to speak with several attorneys when you are in the process of choosing one to represent you. Ask a lawyer, accountant, or business person you know if they can make a recommendation. You may even want to reach out to friends who have been divorced to see if they can give you some names. When you meet with each lawyer, be sure to ask them about their experience with your particular goals. If you are seeking spousal support, make sure your lawyer has experience securing it. Many divorce lawyers focus on getting a couple through a split amicably at the lowest cost to both parties. You may need a spousal support lawyer that can fight for you.
Personality is important
Odds are you will spend a good deal of time with your divorce lawyer. Keep that in mind as you meet with lawyers you might want to hire. If you are in a fragile emotional state you may not want a lawyer with a sense of humor. On the other hand, some clients appreciate a little levity in the situation. A personality fit can be important.
Do not only consider the lawyer. A good lawyer costs a lot of money, but he or she can reduce the cost of their service by efficiently using staff that can do non-legal work at a lower rate. Lawyers will often have a staff person collect your basic information and provide that to the lawyer before your meeting. If your lawyer walks in unprepared and repeats basic questions that you already told to someone else in the office, then you may want to take your business elsewhere.