This is very good information, especially for people in a complex divorce. You and your attorney can work as a team to keep your costs down. Ask what you can do to reduce costs. For example: You can provide copies when there are extensive records so that you don't have to pay for the attorney's staff to make copies and pay for the overhead costs for copies. If you can obtain records yourself rather than the attorney having to obtain through formal legal process you can also reduce costs. Wherever you can help us save time, you can save money. Be a partner with your attorney.
April 29, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ -- How to Get A Divorce Without Going Broke
Article provided by Schwartz Law Firm. Please visit our Web site at http://www.schwartzlawfirmpc.com.
Divorce can be expensive. The combination of divided assets, increased individual living expenses and decreased collective income often leaves everyone involved feeling financially drained. It is possible to obtain a divorce and protect your assets without going broke.
Protecting Your Financial Interests Between The Time You File for Divorce and The Time The Divorce Is Finalized
When preparing for a divorce, many people face the same questions:
How am I going to pay my bills?
Can I stay in the house pending the divorce?
Are we going to have to sell or refinance our home?
After we decide to separate, when can I use the joint bank account?
What can I do if my spouse takes money out of our shared accounts?
An experienced family law attorney can take immediate action to protect your interests and answer your questions. An attorney can file a financial restraining order to prevent the dissipation of your shared assets and file a motion to maintain the status quo to ensure that bill payment arrangements do not change. If you want to stay in the home, an attorney can file a motion for the exclusive use of the marital home. When appropriate, an attorney can file for temporary child and spousal support and request immediate payment of attorney fees to allow you to pursue (or defend) a divorce action.
From a legal standpoint, these are the essential first steps, which will help you to make it through the process of filing for divorce. Divorce is a document intensive and fact specific process. You can reduce attorney fees by providing documents to your attorney and/or helping to prepare various financial charts, budgets, etc. Your role in the process should be active, not passive.
Preparing For The Initial Visit with Your Attorney
Before you ever meet with an attorney, take time to prepare relevant information regarding your assets, debts and ongoing financial obligations. Your attorney will need a number of documents before he or she can take action, but by collecting this information in advance you can reduce the time and expense of divorce.
Among other things, you should bring current utility bills, documents relating to your mortgage, tax records, bank statements, vehicle titles, retirement documents and investment records. This documentation will allow your attorney to take immediate action to protect your interests and develop a broad outlook regarding the fair division of marital assets.
Call your attorney's office to ask what specific documents they require and if they have any forms for you to complete prior to the meeting.
Keeping Costs Down During Litigation
Divorce varies immensely from one family to the next. In some cases, separating spouses can barely stand to share a room; in others, the divorce is amicable and separating spouses can work together to reach a fair resolution. Ultimately, the better you are able to work with your spouse throughout the divorce, the less costly the divorce is likely to be.
The more information you can provide to your attorney, the less you will pay in copy costs and attorney time. The better organized the information, the less time your attorney will spend reviewing the documents. For example, most attorneys use an asset-liability chart to assist with mediation and trial. The chart is used to show a mediator (or judge) the marital estate "at a glance." Your attorney should give this chart to you to complete and attach the supporting documentation. If you dump a stack of documents on an attorney who will then have to weed through numerous accounts and statements, your billable hours will increase accordingly.
Other ways to reduce costs are to request your financial records directly from your bank or other financial institution, employer, school, or medical doctor. This will save you subpoena costs and the time your attorney will spend to prepare them. Sometimes, however, an attorney will still need to subpoena documents. But these are some ways to help cut costs.
Whining Costs Money
You should be able to communicate freely with your attorney. But if you are calling every day to report on the sins of your recalcitrant spouse, you will be unnecessarily racking up your attorney bill. The same holds true for forwarding every email exchange between you and your spouse. While your attorney will be empathetic to your emotional, as well as your legal needs during a divorce proceeding, if you really need to simply vent or a shoulder to cry on, it's much less expensive to call a friend, counselor or priest.
While cutting costs is a legitimate concern in any case, it is most important that you select an attorney with whom you are comfortable and whom you trust. Most attorneys want to help their clients and are genuinely interested in saving them money. But ultimately we must do what is in our client's best interests, and sometimes this involves spending additional funds to conduct more extensive discovery, take depositions, or hire financial experts to value a marital home, business, or other assets. It is possible to pursue or defend a divorce action without going broke if you have an attorney who is sensitive to these issues.