Do not trust yourself in the pain of divorce to make the best decisions for your future. Too many people are so afraid of conflict they will sign anything in front of them.
Others disturbed by guilt will give away the farm. Still, some will believe their spouse will do the right thing despite what the papers say that they sign.
So many clients come in the back door – having signed ridiculous and terrible contracts to end their marriages without knowing or trying to understand the law involved.
Jim signed an agreement that gave his wife sole decision-making for extra-curricular activities for the children. 2 years later, he was paying over $5000.00 in cheerleading fees he knew nothing about until he saw the bill!
Sara was really afraid of her husband after living in an abusive marriage for the past 8 years. He promised the kids could stay with her so long as she waived maintenance. She thought this was a no-brainer until she had to get a second job and work 2 nights a week, not seeing her kids anyway, to make ends meet.
Brian was so afraid of her coming after the business he’d been building for years that he agreed to pay her maintenance for years after the divorce – even though she was working and received more than a fair share of the marital property. Although he agreed to a contractual amount, securing the number of years and the amount he would have to pay her, it makes him sick knowing he’s paying for her lifestyle with her “boyfriend.”
Clearly, there are some divorce attorneys who want you to believe that everything will have to go to the judge, and you shouldn’t trust anything the person you are divorcing says.
There are also some families that will need the court to be involved because the parties are not able to agree on what is fair and equitable or in the best interests of the children.
Once the parties retain great family law attorneys, are forthwith with the financial information, and seek help from the right professionals to address the issues regarding the children, there is always a good chance of finding a resolution.
Meet with a lawyer to understand the law and how it applies to your situation. You don’t go in to hire and retain the lawyer to represent you at this time. You are paying for a legal consult with a professional who can give you legal advice in general.
This is not mediation.
You need the legal advice before you know what you are fighting about that would require a mediator.
I often have a complimentary telephone call with one or both of the parties, and then send them the forms to complete. Then we meet with them as a family lawyer not discussing strategy or settlement in their favor, but educating them as to the legal process so they have the same information moving forward.
This process is usually a bit more than hour of my time, and is offered at my hourly rate of $450.00 – whether is is one or both of you.
Colorado, like many states, mandates a parenting after divorce class. By attending the class before trying to discuss your parenting plan, or what you think is in your child’s best interests, you take the time to educate yourself and better understand how divorce will look for you and your children.
There are so many little things that you may overlook or not consider if you try to divorce without doing this before you discuss and draft your agreements.
Once you have thought about it, it’s time to discuss what you want. Many couples are able to do this together, however, for others, it is too difficult emotionally to handle alone.
My clients will often then meet with me, as their family attorney to discuss what they think and how their agreements should look on paper.
Many will retain my services for drafting once they have gone through these steps for a financially successful divorce.
Because of our great paralegals with over 20 years of experience, much of the drafting is done for less than $200.00 per hour and can be done for less than $1000.00.
Once we have drafted everythingi for them, we sit down to review and dscuss together if necessary. Otherwise, this is the time I invite them to seek separate counsel for an independent review of the agreements.
Because you are only hiring separate counsel for a consult, this is usually done at the respective attorney’s hourly rate of anywhere from $175.00/hr to $550.00/hr, depending who you hire.
After the separate attorneys review your agreements and the already prepared financial documents, their independent review and conversation with you shouldn’t last more than 2-3 hour- depending on how complex your divorce may be.
By starting your divorce from a place of gaining knowledge about the process, working together instead of against one another, and limiting the roles of lawyers or other professionals and the court when they may not be necessary, will help you divorce in the most time-efficient and cost-effective way possible without risking a future unknown or unwanted because you wanted to save money the first time.