Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?

Stay in control of costs and decisions, while getting the advice you need. Use divorce lawyers wisely.

A Smart Way to Use Divorce Lawyers in Oregon

Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?

If you have a simple, uncontested divorce with all terms agreed upon, you may not need a family law attorney (divorce lawyer) or even a mediator. In this case you might be able to do a “do-it-yourself” divorce in Oregon. If you have any complexity or disagreements with your divorce, you will want help from a divorce professional.

Divorce lawyers can be an essential resource for advising you and interpreting Oregon divorce laws. Divorce lawyers help protect your interests by informing you of the legal rights, responsibilities, and implications of decisions you are making. While our mediators can provide you with a copy of the law and inform you of general practices and expectations of the family courts, only a lawyer may advise you as to the most likely legal outcome (how a judge might rule) on any issue in your case, should you choose to litigate that issue.

Therefore, a better question than “Do I need a divorce lawyer?” would be “What is the best way to use a lawyers guidance in a divorce process?”

Divorce Lawyers are traditionally hired to be the legal representative for their client and negotiate on their behalf with the opposing person’s lawyer. They typically require a sizable retainer up front, charge their hourly rate for work done on the case until the retainer is depleted, then bill their clients for work done there-after. This approach can leave clients little choice in their quickly mounting divorce costs.

In the mediation process that is offered by Oregon Divorce Guides, you can similarly obtain the legal advice and protection of a divorce lawyer by consulting with them on an as-needed basis. This is often referred to as “unbundled legal services,” where you only pay a lawyer for the time you spend meeting with them, instead of giving them the green light to charge you for any work they autonomously decide to do while representing you.

While we do not require it, many of our clients obtain advice from family law attorneys about specific topics, such as what a fair spousal support amount might be, or the legal costs and benefits of pursuing sole custody. Some of our clients wish to have an attorney participate in a mediation session beside them, or review and make language suggestions before signing their divorce settlement agreement.

Our mediation process legally protects you in the following ways as well:

  • No decisions will be made without each client fully participating in the decision.
  • Each client will have the information, time and support they need to make the decision.
  • The mediator monitors the discussions to keep them fair and productive, and each client can end mediation at any time.
  • No agreements are considered “final” until clients are in agreement about the complete package (the full divorce settlement agreement); each has the opportunity to review it with their attorney prior to signing and submitting it to the court.

Selecting the right divorce attorney to advise or support you can have a major impact on your process. Most divorce lawyers in Oregon are trained to control the decision-making process and to aggressively advocate their client’s position in a competitive win-lose stance with the opposing attorney. If you are participating in mediation, your needs to support you as the primary decision-maker, inform you of the range of potential legal costs and outcomes, and help you work towards a mutually acceptable settlement. Upon request, Oregon Divorce Guides can provide you with a referral list of settlement-oriented attorneys.


Read more about the laws regarding Divorce and Legal Separation in Oregon.

Read 5 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Attorney During Mediation.

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