Collaborative Divorce v. Contested Divorce
Going through a divorce may be one of the most painful and overwhelming events an individual can go through, next to the death of a loved one. It is the ending of a bond that two people shared, and the erasure of the future that had once held promise.
Divorce shouldn’t automatically equate to “lawyers, guns and money,” but a good family law attorney can assist in ensuring that the interests of each party are protected without squandering the parties’ resources on attorneys’ fees.
In a collaborative divorce, the parties have agreed to part amicably and are able to work together and draft and sign the necessary documents in order to obtain a judgment. A judgment will most likely be obtained within 6 months.
In this type of situation, the parties could either draft and file all the documents on their own, or one of the parties might retain an attorney to assist both parties in getting the necessary documents drafted and filed.
Or, each party might retain an attorney and then let the attorneys negotiate the final marital settlement agreement between the parties. It’s quite possible that there will not have to be any court visits.
Beware of attorneys who advertise that they are “collaborative divorce” attorneys. A collaborative divorce does not necessarily reduce the amount of money a party will spend on attorney’s fees. Just because someone says they are a collaborative divorce attorney does not necessarily mean you will be paying less attorney’s fees.
“Collaborative divorce” is a new term that attorneys came up with to get you to think you can save money on your divorce because there won’t be any fighting. However, this can actually be a very expensive process and often the results are not what was anticipated.
Additionally, if you take this route, do not hire a “collaborative divorce expert” unless he or she is an attorney. A non-attorney can help you draft the paperwork necessary for a divorce and an agreement, but a non-attorney cannot give you legal advice! If you are going to hire a non-attorney to help you with your paperwork, they will only be able to fill out the paperwork based on the information you provide, but they will not be able to advise you on the law that would apply in your situation.
Any attorney can be a “collaborative divorce” attorney. If you retain an attorney to assist you with a collaborative divorce, not only can the attorney prepare the paperwork, the attorney can advise you as to the law on every aspect of your case.
If the parties are in disagreement as to custody, support, and/or property division, or if there are restraining order issues, it may take a bit longer to obtain a final judgment, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be paying a lot of money in attorney’s fees if you hire the right attorney.
An experienced attorney, an attorney who knows what they are doing, will be able to assist you in resolving any issues in dispute without running up attorney’s fees. An inexperienced attorney, or an attorney who is only in this “for the money,” will take actions that are designed to run up attorney’s fees and which will only hurt your case in the long run.
Anne Marie Healy is experienced in all aspects of family law. She prefers to settle the cases without going to court, but has the experience to go to court and aggressively represent her clients’ interests.
If you have any specific questions pertaining to your divorce, please click here.
Contrary to popular belief, spousal support is not automatically awarded to the spouse requesting it.
Temporary spousal support can be requested at the same time that the petition for dissolution is filed, the same as child support.
One of the main factors that the court will take into consideration in determining whether spousal support should be ordered is the standard of living during the marriage.The court will attempt to award spousal support sufficient to enable both parties to live the same life style as they enjoyed during the marriage.If they both earn equal income, however, then most likely the life style of each will spiral down to some degree and neither party will be ordered to pay spousal support unless there is a large disparity in income.
The court will also take the following factors into consideration:
The marketable skills of the supported spouse, the job market for those skills, the education or training needed to develop marketable skills, and the need for retraining or education to acquire other, more marketable skills or employment;
The impairment of present or future earning capacity due to periods of unemployment during the marriage devoted to domestic duties;
The contribution of the supported spouse to enable the other spouse to the attain education, training, a career or a professional license;
The ability of the paying spouse to make support payments taking into account his/her earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living;
The obligations and assets of each spouse;
The duration of the marriage;
The ability of the supported spouse to be employed without unduly interfering with child care responsibilities; and
The age and health of the respective spouses.
In a short-term marriage, spousal support usually lasts for one-half of the duration of the marriage. In long-term marriages, it can be argued that it should last until either death of remarriage of the recipient.
At the time the Summons and Petition are filed, a restraining order goes into effect that neither party can cancel a health insurance policy under which either party is covered. Pre-existing health insurance must be maintained until a final judgment is entered. If the spouse providing spousal support removes the other spouse from coverage prior to a final judgment being entered, you can go to court and ask the judge to make an order to the providing spouse to reinstate the coverage.
All of the issues that a person may face during a divorce are not addressed here. If you have any specific questions pertaining to your divorce, please click here.
A client signed a settlement agreement a little over a year ago wherein the parties agreed that she would have primary custody and the other party would pay child support in the sum of $400 per month. The other party wasn’t working at the time.
Since that time, the other party has gained employment and earns significantly much more, so we prepared a Request for Order for Modification of Child Support.
Modifying child support is usually easy and shouldn’t require a lot of time and money, as long as both parties have jobs and their income is easily verifiable, as in this case.
We spent approximately 2 hours preparing the paperwork, and I am expecting to spend about 2 hours at the hearing.
Of course, although I expect this case to go smoothly, the reaction of the other party could create more work. The other party could show up and ask for a continuance in order to retain an attorney, or he could have an attorney who asks for a continuance for various reasons, or they could try to subpoena documents, or any other assortment of activities that could cause more work and delay in this case.
But this matter should still be resolved easily in spite of possible delays.