Personal Planning


 

The Logical and Peaceful Legal Process for Divorce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why pay lawyers big fees for your divorce?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I believe you should do everything possible to save your marriage, especially if there are children involved. Go to counseling. Get help. Try to limit the extreme emotions that arise in the divorce process. If all else fails, don’t exacerbate the problems by wiping out your bank accounts and assets by giving lawyers huge sums of your money. You can avoid this mess by following my Mediative Approach to Divorce.

THE MEDIATIVE APPROACH TO DIVORCE

1. Limit arguments and fights. Yes, I know that this is difficult, but it is absolutely imperative if you want to save time, money and peace of mind. Colorado law will pretty much tell you how assets will be divided and how much spousal maintenance and child support will be paid – and to whom. So it makes no logical sense to fight about it. If you must argue and fight, this is not the process for you. I am not the person for you. Hire high-priced lawyers and fight and argue and give these lawyers hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Sure, you may have attorneys fees awarded to you by the judge, but it still comes out of the ultimate pot. It comes out of your wealth.

2. I am not your counselor or clergy. It is not my position to be your counselor or clergy. Sure, I have views in this area, and I may offer some of my views if the circumstance arises, but you should have much of this settled before you hire me. I sit down with both spouses – and without children present – explain the law, work through forms with clients and explain and offer advice regarding the legal process so that both spouses can walk through the divorce together.

3. Who gets what? Here we are talking about spousal and child support, child custody and other assets of the marriage. Regarding money and assets, Colorado statutes are fairly rigid. There is wiggle room so long as the parties agree and it is fair. I work with spouses to find an agreement that is fair, reasonable and agreeable and that is acceptable to the court. If you want to fight over these things, this process is not for you. I am not the person for you. As has been previously said, the resources expended for the reward of getting to fight about it all come out of your pocket.

4. Child custody. I require that both spouses agree in advance not to use the children in any way against the other spouse. There may be some circumstances where one or both spouses have done horrible things regarding the children. If so, this is not the process for you. Otherwise, I require that both spouses together sit down with the children and explain what is happening and explain to the children that this is not their fault. The children should know that both mother and father love them and will support them and will be a significant part of their lives. I require that there be some sort of shared custody. I require that the parties agree in advance that both parties have equal say in the lives of the children. If you want to fight over these things, this process is not for you. I am not the person for you. Once again, the cost will be significant and yours to bear.

5. Our meetings. When I meet with clients, I meet with both spouses at the same time. Although there may be some disagreements, we do not argue. We calmly and reasonably discuss the issues. We are respectful of each other. I explain the law and describe what a reasonable outcome would be. From there, both spouses will have to reach an agreement. I understand that there will be disagreements, but these disagreements must be discussed openly, calmly and rationally. Spouses cannot bring their children to our meetings.

6. The Process. I meet in person with both spouses. The first one-half hour is free. Some clients want to think about it at that point, but some want to continue. Prior to this first meeting, most clients will fill out an information form to save time. In this first meeting, I take additional information and answer questions. At the conclusion of this meeting, we agree on a schedule and timeline. From this point in time, clients can work on the forms on their own or we can all meet together to complete the forms. Once most of the forms are completed and signed, one or both of the spouses file(s) the case in the District Court, in the County of residence. From this point, the court will set the timetable. I will talk clients through this process until completion.

7. Fees: The average legal fee in a divorce action in Colorado is between $5,000 and $15,000 per spouse. Often, the fee can be significantly higher, especially if one’s income is high. Why? The divorce process is emotional and pressure-packed. Not all, but many lawyers know that they earn more money from people who can afford to pay and who desperately want to win. I charge an hourly rate, and if we can manage the process well, the total cost should translate to about $5,000 per couple. Some divorces are simple and cordial and will cost less. Generally, I require an advance of $5,000, $1,500 of which is non-refundable. The balance is placed in my Trust Account and billed against as I incur fees in excess of $1,500. In addition, there is a filing fee at the court and other costs and fees depending on mandatory mediation.

Why pay two times, three times or more in attorney fees so that both spouses can hire lawyers and fight over almost everything? Is the emotional and monetary cost worth it?