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.