This is a common question, but it is not one easily answered. There are quite a few different ways to handle a divorce. The least expensive way to handle a divorce is to do it yourself, prepare a marital settlement agreement, and have your spouse sign it. There are paralegals, document preparers, and attorneys which will help you process your own divorce for low fees and/or fixed fees. My office offers fixed fees for uncontested divorces, that is, divorces in which you and your spouse agree on everything from the beginning.
Is uncontested divorce right for me?
However, this may not be the most appropriate way to handle your divorce. Sometimes people sacrifice important rights, such as property rights, or spousal support rights, just so they can handle their divorce inexpensively, via an uncontested divorce fixed feel plan. It's like trying to shove the proverbial square peg into the round hole. It is true that one must always watch costs. It makes no sense to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees to fight over a TV, no matter how nice of a TV it is. By the same token, waiving your right to spousal support just so you can appease your spouse and get him or her to agree to a fixed fee divorce may not be the best idea. It may cost you more in the long run.
How to Minimize Costs in Divorce
Other ways to keep costs down, but not necessarily compromise your rights is to simply consult with a family law attorney. You can do the divorce yourself, but ask an attorney for advice on key points: How much spousal support should you get; how much child support should you get; what should you do with the house and the retirements. Divorce attorneys typically charge by the hour, but hiring an attorney on a consulting basis can keep the cost down.
Limited Scope Divorce Representation in Roseville
Limited scope is also becoming more common in divorce and family law cases. Perhaps you've prepared and filed your own motion for child support, but are uncomfortable showing up to the court hearing on your own, especially since your spouse has hired an attorney. You can hire your own attorney on a limited scope basis, just to handle the child support hearing for you, for example. Theoretically, the scope can be as narrow or as wide as you and the attorney agree. The scope can be just this one hearing on child support, or it can be everything having to do with child support. Depending on the scope, the costs for handling a particular family law or divorce issue can be better controlled.
When You Just Have to Hire a Divorce Lawyer
However, there are certainly times when you need an attorney to handle your entire divorce from beginning to end. Perhaps you just don't have the time for it, or you and your spouse are having a strong disagreement over spousal support, or you don't trust that your spouse is being forthright with his or her disclosure of the community property assets. Additionally some issues are just not clear cut and/or they're complex, requiring a good deal of evidence gathering and trial preparation. Move away cases, parental alienation, cases involving tracing separate property contributions to community assets, spousal support for long term marriages, and case involving large community estates are a few examples of cases that would most likely benefit from having an attorney represent you throughout the entire case. Retaining a divorce attorney to become your attorney of record over your entire case enables him to handle and strategize your entire divorce, and perhaps more cost effectively, rather than just deal with issues piecemeal, and only as you bring them to his attention.
Can you really afford not to hire a divorce attorney?
In deciding which path to take, the key thing to ask yourself is what is at stake? What's the cost versus the benefit? If you have been married for only a couple of years, there's probably not a lot to fight over in terms of spousal support and community property. On the other hand, if yours is a long term marriage, you and your spouse have accumulated a lot of property, there's a lot more at stake. If you and your spouse have no children, at least not with each other, that makes the divorce simpler because child custody and child support won't be an issue. If you have children, then you must ask yourself how likely is it that you and your spouse will agree on a custody and visitation schedule? Depending on your answer to these questions, maybe you can resolve your divorce case with an uncontested fixed fee divorce, or maybe you need an attorney to handle your entire case from top to bottom, or maybe you can take a path that's down the middle between those two choices.
My office offers everything from fixed fees for uncontested divorces, to consulting, to mediation, to full representation on the most complex of cases. Please call the Law Offices of Evan Samuelson. We'll be happy to be of service.