Friday, December 18, 2009
Almost all divorcing individuals are concerned with minimizing legal fees during their divorce. Following these five tips can help you avoid common mistakes that lead to high attorney fees.
1. Choose your attorney carefully
The amount of money you spend on your divorce can be significantly minimized by picking the right attorney. Do your research and choose someone experienced in the area of family law. You don’t want to pay an attorney for his or her time learning the ropes of an unfamiliar practice area. Ask your attorney about their general approach to handling divorce cases. An attorney who works hard to help the parties cooperate with one another to reach a satisfactory settlement will facilitate a much more affordable divorce than an attorney who promotes a highly adversarial process.
2. Provide your attorney with complete information
There is a great deal of paperwork required during a divorce, and your attorney will ask for an extensive amount of information even before filing a single document with the court. The vast majority of clients leave out significant amounts of information in paperwork they are asked to complete. The attorney or paralegal must then spend time gathering the missing information, which costs the client money. While all of the paperwork may seem overwhelming, taking the time to gather all of the information requested by your attorney will save you money in the short and long run.
3. Keep communicating with your spouse
Attorney fees skyrocket in cases where the client wishes for all communication to go through the attorneys. While some situations require limited or no contact between spouses, such as cases involving domestic violence, most clients can significantly reduce the cost of their divorce by communicating directly with their soon to be ex spouse. Try to negotiate as much as possible with your spouse, and utilize your attorney only when your own efforts are unsuccessful.
4. Do not use your attorney as your therapist
Divorce is a difficult and emotional process, and you may find yourself venting to your attorney about your anger and frustration with personal aspects of your relationship with your spouse. Keep in mind that the clock is ticking and the attorney must charge for these conversations. Use your friends, therapist, and support groups to talk about the emotional aspect of your divorce, and limit conversations with your attorney to resolving the issues relevant in the legal case.
5. Choose your battles carefully and do not be too quick to litigate
Anger, hurt, and frustration caused by the break down of the marriage often cause clients to want to go for the jugular and fight every small issue in the divorce case. A highly adversarial divorce usually does not lead to a better outcome and only increases stress and legal fees. Don’t spend $2,000.00 to fight for the $1,000.00 sofa or $10,000.00 to fight for a $100 a month difference in child support. Sometimes confrontation and litigation are necessary, but carefully evaluate each issue to know what is worth fighting for and what simply isn’t worth the stress and expense.
Always keep in mind that your attorney charges for the amount of time spent on your case, so anything you can do to minimize the time your attorney and his or her office must spend will decrease your attorneys fees. Keeping this in mind and using the tips above can help you reach a successful resolution to your divorce without breaking the bank.
JEANETTE L. SOLTYS
Family Law Attorney
Shriver & Gordon, P.C.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
We often hear of abusers being charged with battery and other crimes but what about when the victim stands accused. Domestic violence survivors frequently find themselves in the position of being charged with crimes as well when they don’t know how to legally as well as physically protect themselves. The most common charges result when the abuser has finger nail marks on his neck, chest or hands from the woman trying to push him away or kick marks on the legs. His clothes may be torn in the struggle or weapons may have come into play. Often both parties have some injuries and both are taken to jail.
In the best case scenario, the survivor should not engage and should go to a shelter, friend or relative’s house. If she cannot leave, she should call 911. Self defense is much harder to prove in domestic violence cases because the pattern of abuse leading up to the incident has usually gone unreported and there are no witnesses. Also use caution because violent acts committed in the presence of children can lead to additional charges such as child endangerment or cruelty to children.
It is important to develop potential witnesses when you are ready to leave. All injuries should be reported to your doctor even it if you are hesitant to report the violence to the authorities. Speak with trustworthy neighbors, religious leaders or seek a consultation with an attorney. Keep a journal of threats and incidents.
If you are arrested for violence, do not attempt to explain what happened to the arresting officers. Remember your right to remain silent and wait for your attorney. Although you may be telling the truth and just being honest to clear up matters, anything you say can be misconstrued and used against you in court.
Paige N. Jennings, PC
Family Law Attorney
Friday, July 24, 2009
The most important thing to remember is that you should not divorce alone. No one can know everything she or he needs to know to divorce. That's why I always recommend using a team approach.
Your attorney knows the legal aspects of divorcing, how to negotiate, the judges, the other attorneys, the process, and the traditional ebb and flow.
For the financial aspect of the divorce, however, consider consulting with a CPA, Financial Planner, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, or Financial Advisor. These are number savvy folks who usually cost much less per hour than your attorney, and who know so much more about the money.
If you are concerned about the equity in your home or your credit talk to a mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers have their fingers on the pulse of borrowed money.
If you are concerned about health insurance, and who isn't these days, consult with an insurance broker. Don't make the mistake of relying on COBRA unless you have no choice. If you would like to insure alimony or child support an insurance broker can give good advice about who should own the policies
ALWAYS have a therapist or pastoral counselor to help you process your emotions. Never let you emotions cloud the business of the divorce. Having a therapist prevents you from subconsciously seeking emotional support from your expensive attorney or financial advisor.
You don't have to know it all, but you do need to know what you don't know - before it's too late. Be the CEO of your divorce.