How do you know when it is time to talk to an attorney? In some situations the answer is straightforward—you have been arrested, or have a pending legal issue. In other scenarios it may be less black and white. What if you are considering divorce? Or there has been a significant change in circumstances that might affect your parenting time?
In situations where it may be unclear if the advice of an attorney is necessary, it is important to consider what is on the line. Will the outcome of the situation significantly affect your life? For example, a potential divorce may affect your finances, time with your children, and property. The outcome will continue to affect your quality of life long after the divorce is finalized. Because the impact may be significant you should discuss your situation with an attorney and educate yourself on your rights and potential outcomes before any paperwork is filed.
If you are unsure if you need the advice of an attorney, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Most attorneys offer a discounted or complimentary consultation to provide important information, answer questions, and help you decide if retaining a lawyer is in your best interest. An experienced attorney can explain the potential consequences of your legal situation and help you determine what your next steps should be.
Getting information early and understanding your rights is always the best course of action. If you have legal questions, it is never too early to talk with an attorney. Unfortunately for many men, they wait until it is too late and wind up in a potential disadvantage. If you have questions regarding custody, child support, or divorce, our managing attorney, Ken Alan, is happy to provide answers over the phone at no cost.
There are two different schools of thought among couples who are planning how to best utilize their wedding budgets. Some want the huge, lavish, expensive extravaganza while others opt for the inexpensive “let’s just get married already” and get it done approach. When factoring the total cost of a venue, decor, music, food, and wedding party attire, typically couples tend to meet the US average which ranges between $19,000 and $30,000. These two personality types are also recognized in divorce proceedings. With the US contested divorce cost ranging in the $15,000 to $30,000 average; it is wise to have an understanding of what cost factors add into the subtotal of the divorce bill that digs a hole in so many pockets.
There are two directions a couple can take when going forward with a divorce—contested or uncontested; which both vary in price. Contested divorces tend to cost more in time and money to reach a settlement whereas with an uncontested divorce the couple tends to be more civil and have already discussed terms of a settlement. It is common for both spouses to hire attorneys to help with negotiations when the couple struggles to communicate with one another. Normally we see a rise in conflicts and disputes with a contested divorce especially when there are children and shared property involved. The relationship between the spouses; whether they are on good terms or bad will determine the magnitude of the divorce and the process through which it should be handled.
When children are involved, more detailed work is needed when establishing custody, proposing and finalizing parenting plans, and reaching agreements on child support payments. The negotiation process is time-consuming, especially if the spouses are not reaching agreements and disputing what is fair for both sides and/or the child(ren).
The cost of divorce will rise depending upon the effort and time attorneys must spend drafting documents, corresponding with the client and/or opposing counsel, appearing in court proceedings, and filing fees. Attorney’s hourly rates vary and clients are typically required to put down a retainer which stands as the initial payment. The attorney uses these funds to begin the proceedings. A client will need to replenish the account as the attorney assesses costs and fees after calculating the work that has been done as the case progresses.
Additional legal fees may include hiring a mediator. Mediation involves both parties meeting at a set location and a neutral third party negotiator (mediator) negotiates terms between the parties. This can be a drawn out process which could take 2-6 hours to complete. The clients will be billed for the mediator as well as any hours where the attorney is present as their counsel. Mediations are a form of dispute resolution and are often used when the clients are unable to reach a settlement. Analyzing the distribution of debts and assets/property takes extensive negotiation and time, particularly if the clients have a complex financial situation. Attorney’s will need to correspond with the opposing counsel to reach agreement for the settlement.
Divorce is a taxing experience for all involved, not to mention its emotional and financial impact. There are ways to keep the cost of divorce down. One is pursuing an uncontested divorce and having an idea of how you and your soon to be ex want to proceed in reaching a settlement. Obviously, this is not always the direction a divorce will go and it is very dependent upon the relationship of the spouses. If an uncontested divorce is not attainable then suggestions to keep costs down would be to go Pro se(representing yourself); which is generally not advised especially if the opposing party is acting aggressively. This may lead to finding yourself in a financial bind after the divorce is finalized. Another is keeping correspondence to a minimum if you are being represented by an attorney. Lowering the amount of work and resources your attorney has to invest in you case will typically lower your cost. Do things such as making copies at home to avoid a charge, and have documents ready for the initial meeting and be ready with an idea of how you would like to pursue the case .
There is no set cost on a divorce. The number ranges for each individual case, but it is wise to approach the divorce in a prepared and informed manner. A final settlement will be determined and it will take time, effort, and a lot of patience on both sides, but if you have a set idea of what you are looking for and have chosen the right course of action for your case then the end result might not be as hard on your bank account.
Coming to terms with the end of a marriage can be challenging, and it can be difficult to know when to file for divorce. The emotional and logistical considerations of dividing two households can raise a plethora of questions like, “What about the kids? The house? Who is going to make the first move? What is the first step?” It is common to be flooded with all these questions, and finding answers can be difficult.
There is a sense of urgency once the initial move has been taken; but knowing what the next step is is often unclear. In a recent episode of Life Coach, a caller needed recommendations for taking the next step. The caller’s husband left the state and has pulled all monetary support for the caller and their children; he even cut off the cell phones. He has made it clear he wants a divorce. In this scenario, managing partner Rick Jones recommended that the caller be proactive. Rick told the caller, “regardless of whether she wanted this to happen or not, she needs to file to protect herself.”
Being the initial one to file, the caller may be able to leverage the advantage of time. She would have access to the courts within two weeks and from there a Temporary Parenting Plan could be filed which would grant custody. Because a disparity in income exists, the caller has the right to ask for the child support as well as attorney fee’s.
You can hear all of Rick’s advice in the clip below.
If you are overwhelmed with the idea of divorce, or if you suspect your spouse wants a divorce, do not wait! Speak with an attorney for advice and educate yourself on your rights, and your options.
Goldberg Jones is excited to announce Seattle Business Magazine has recognized us as one of Seattle’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Seattle Business Magazine highlights businesses which exhibit leadership and entrepreneurial spirit both within their industry and the region.
Goldberg Jones was included due to the company’s excellence in leadership, training and education, company culture, and benefits, among other categories. This is Goldberg Jones’s third year being recognized in the small business category by the magazine.
Seattle Business Magazine’s annual list is a prestigious collection of companies setting the standard for exceptional work environments. Goldberg Jones was specifically noted for its strong leadership, flexible work options, employees’ participation in continuing education, work-life benefits, and open communication that fosters a rich and rewarding workplace.
“We are honored to be recognized alongside so many other outstanding companies.” said managing partner Rick Jones. “We know a great team starts with great people—and a work environment where autonomy, creativity, achievement, and mutual respect are rewarded is essential for retaining talented employees. Making the ‘Seattle’s 100 Best Companies to Work For’ list is an honor.”
The 100 Best Companies to Work For list was created using the results from an anonymous survey of employees and an evaluation by a panel of judges which thoroughly study each nominees corporate culture, employee communications and benefit programs, among other criteria.
With the countless issues that arise in divorce/legal separation the divorcees are left to find the most suitable conflict resolution. Cases that involve division of assets or children would normally be forced to go into mediation if the parties cannot come to an agreement.
Mediation is the process of negotiating with the assistance of a third-party mediator to reach an agreed upon settlement and move forward with the separation. Mediators are trained professionals that should remain impartial to each of the parties desires; however, this does not exclude them from investigating into the issues of the separation. By understanding any existing conflicts, the mediator can more efficiently facilitate reaching and agreed upon settlement.
Who benefits from mediation?
The couples that derive the most benefit from mediation have a functional relationship and are willing to reach an agreement on how assets and debts are divided. Support, custody, and parenting time will also be addressed during mediation. If these topics are contentious it can make the negotiation process more challenging or possibly ineffective.
Parties are not required to agree on the settlement the mediator presents. If the result of the mediation is still contested then a trial may be required to finalize the divorce.
Deliberating during a divorce/separation can unveil more issues than expected. It is essential to understand the various options available when beginning the divorce process. Divorce can be disorienting and frustration, confusion, and denial are all common when navigating the process.
Through the mediation and divorce process, your attorney’s goal is singular: to protect your rights and best interests. Your attorney should demonstrate guidance and confidence—and use all the appropriate tools to advocate for your rights, advise you of your options and discuss the potential outcomes that accompany those choices.