Most people would opt for a divorce attorney when they need to get a divorce. However, a general attorney can work in a pinch too. So, which one should you hire if you can hire either? That depends on the following factors.
Complexity of the Divorce
Let's say that your divorce comes from an extremely short marriage where no children are involved. All you want to do is extricate yourself and take your possessions with you. In this case, the divorce is pretty straightforward; you are leaving your spouse and taking your property with you. A general attorney can help with this because there are no complex factors involved and the paperwork needed to file with the court is really basic.
On the flip side, if you have a couple of kids and a ten-plus year marriage, or a lot of assets and property in joint names, you should hire the divorce attorney instead. With the alimony, child custody, child support, and division of property, you are looking at a ton of paperwork and potentially several hearings in court over the next couple of years. A divorce attorney has the experience and expertise needed to manage all of these complex issues.
Some states award more to the faithful partner in a divorce. These states have an "at fault" clause in their divorce laws. Navigating these "at fault" laws means you need a divorce lawyer, not a general attorney. The divorce lawyer can help you gather enough evidence to show your partner's infidelitous behavior and sue for compensation on top of alimony (if it applies in your state).
That is not to say a general attorney could not help you with this, if he/she reads up on family law. However, the general attorney is probably more accustomed to civil action suits instead of family lawsuits. The general attorney may miss something the divorce attorney would catch and include in the documents filed with the court.
Children born to your marriage make extrication especially difficult. The court will expect that a guardian ad litem seek out who the best parent is and make recommendations. Your own lawyer really has no say about the children beyond your wishes about where the children stay and with whom.
Additionally, cultural and religious complexities arise with regards to the children, since Muslim and Hasidic/Orthodox Judaism are very strict about which parent "gets the children" in a divorce. The fathers always retain rights, and mothers lose contact with the children they have raised. That said, you should hire the divorce attorney, because they have additional expertise that can help.
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