Archive for the 'Divorce and Money' Category

Who Pays Legal Fees?

Posted by admin on 27th April 2006

Most of the time in divorce cases; each person pays for their own attorney separately. But, there are cases where the court may decide to order that both parties share the legal fees equally or one pays more than other, etc,,

Legal fees can be determined in the same ways or similar to the ones used to award alimony. In these cases, the judge would have to decide if a person can pay their legal fees or if the spouse should pay.

In some divorce cases, however, an attorney may ask for some money upfront as a contingency, when this happens you must have some money to give him for him to start working on your case. So, this money you must come up with before you can retain his services. The attorney will use this money for such things as court filing fees, transcripts of testimonies, obtaining records, cost of expert witnesses, travel expenses and other pertinent information.

The best way in which to keep costs low in your divorce or within your budget if you think you will have to pay all of the legal fees and get nothing back from your spouse is to do much of the leg work yourself. You can make copies, run to the courthouse to file papers, etc.

Another way to ensure that the legal fees are equally shared between you and your spouse is to if at all possible sit down and talk with your spouse prior to the filing. Sign an agreement with them pertaining to all aspects of the divorce, compromise as much as possible on this agreement. Things that should be discussed include who keeps the home, the automobiles, has custody of the children, child support, insurance payments, tax payments, and agree that each of you will pay one half of the legal fees. If this is possible you will at least have an agreement, but also remember according to which attorney you both use and their fees the cost can still be tremendous.

If your legal fees are rising because of a stubborn spouse and you are spending more and more money of such things as depositions to proof that you were right and that you never had an affair you may wish to ask the court that your spouse be responsible for the extra that you have had to pay.

In addition, if you are asking for alimony, you may also use this information to ask for help with your legal fees.

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Treatment of Military Pensions on Divorce

Posted by admin on 27th April 2006

If you are involved in a military divorce then you should learn what the treatment of military pensions on divorce is. Each state is different and some do not have any special laws or stipulations regarding military personnel involved in a divorce, but the federal government does.

If you are involved in a military divorce you should seek counsel with an attorney that understands the laws governing military personnel, if you are the person in the military, the spouse of a military service person, or if either of you are retired from the military.

First, under federal law your spouse may receive a percentage of your disposable retired pay. As an example of what these means let’s say your retired pay would have been $1500 per month, but $200 of that makes up for disability pay and $50 would pay the Survivor Benefit premium. Therefore, after the $250 is taken out you would be left with $1250, this is the amount the court can use to calculate and use as martial property.

Some states do treat all pensions and retirement plans that were acquired by either spouse during a marriage as marital property. However, this does not necessarily mean that you will are entitled to half. The court will normally divide the marital property between you and your spouse as what they believe is fair.

Some of the factors that the courts may consider include:

Who earned what during the marriage including the housekeeping and childcare?

How long you were married

Both spouse’s age and health

What the reasons are for the divorce

Any bills that have accumulated during the marriage

Any anything else the court considers important for the division of marital property.

If the only thing that of value in your marriage is the retired pay, the court still may not give half. The formula used in most courts for division of the retired pay is the number of years married, divided by the number of years the military person served times 50 percent of the retired pay amount.

The court cannot order anyone to retire early from the service. The longer the person is in the military the smaller amount the spouse will receive and the spouse can not collect from the retired pay until the military personnel does retire.

The best way to learn how your state views military pensions is to speak with an attorney that understands the federal and state laws governing military divorce proceedings. Be sure that you also fully understand what benefits are available if your spouse was or is in the military.

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How to Save Legal Fees on Your Divorce

Posted by admin on 27th April 2006

A divorce can be very expensive and if you do not pay attention to how much time, you rack up talking with them. The cheapest way to save legal fees on your divorce is through a divorce kit, but both you can your spouse must agree with every aspect of the divorce, how everything will be divided, and the custody of the children, child support and visitation. Then you can fill out the papers and file them with the court yourself. This is best way to save a bundle of money. You will only have to pay for the divorce kit and filing fees. There will be no attorney fees for either one of you to pay. However, most of the time a divorce kit will not work for couples that have conflicts they cannot resolve, so here are some tips when you have to retain an attorney.

* Talk with friends and family members that may know some attorneys and what their fees are. Learn if they returned calls promptly and if they were focused on their case and organized. An unorganized attorney can cost you all kinds of money, when they are working on your case; they are racking up a bill. If they need any papers, information, etc…, offer to get this for them. They will charge you an hourly rate while they are retrieving this stuff and probably for the cost of the gas and maybe even mileage.

* When you talk with the attorney ask them what they charge and how. Some attorney charge by the hour while others charge for every 15 minutes they spend on your case. You can even give him an idea of what you envision paying and see if he would be willing to work within your budget.

* When you talk with your attorney, do not get sidetracked. Do not chat about anything besides the divorce or things pertaining to the divorce. You are paying for his time, whether you wish to talk about your golf games or the weather. Try to keep the attorneys mind on your case as well, instead of how great the weekend was.

* Do not ask for extra papers or copies. Make your own copies and remember to write down anything when you are talking with him. Forgotten items can run up your bill because you have to call and ask more questions.

Anyway, you can think of to help your attorney and not chitchat about everything under the sun can save you hundreds of dollars in the end.

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How Much Will My Divorce Cost?

Posted by admin on 27th April 2006

Every divorce is as different as each person is and there are many factors that can drive up the cost of your divorce. Some divorces can be only the cost of the filing fees while others may cost thousands of dollars, most of this depends on how much you and your spouse are willing to negotiate and compromise.

In an uncontested divorce, you may be able to use a divorce kit and file your divorce with just the costs of the filing fees with the court clerk. If so, you and your spouse could share the filing fee and get out of your marriage for less than one hundred dollars. This is not the case in most divorces.

Many couples cannot agree on how the property should be divided, who should have custody of the children, how much child support should be, how much, if any, alimony should be given, and many other factors. When this occurs, attorneys are sought. Attorneys normally charge by the hour or even by every 15 minutes, they spend on your case. You will be charged for every piece of paper that is used, each paper clip, staple, court filing fees and anything else the attorney uses for your case.

There are state and local filing fees to consider along with any mediations and depositions that may need to taken to ensure that you receive what you are entitled to, all of these cost money. Before you go ahead with any plans for extra work to be done, you should talk with your attorney and ask how much he charges for each item and in cases of depositions how he charges.

There are some things that you can do on your own that can save you money on your divorce such as obtaining, completing, and filing court documents. Try your best to not argue with your spouse over mundane items and stick to the larger disagreements. If you spend 15 hours discussing who is going to get the punch bowl that was given at your wedding from Aunt Martha you could have purchased one just like it with what you will be paying your attorney.

Remember, every time you talk with your attorney on the phone, in person, or at lunch, he is probably on the clock and racking up time on your bill. Try to keep all conversations with them to the point and short.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider when you begin to think about how much a divorce will cost. The best way to keep the cost down in a divorce is to compromise and handle it quickly and efficiently.

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Cost of Mediation

Posted by admin on 27th April 2006

When it comes to the cost of mediation, it really depends on the exact type of mediation that you may require. If the court offers mediation then they can waive the cost or decide which spouse should pay for the costs incurred or if both will pay equally.

If you make the decision to use a mediator then you and your spouse will be responsible for the cost. Normally mediation costs are based on an hourly rate or can be done as a flat fee. Either way most of the time mediation is cheaper in the end than litigations.

The type of mediation you choose can also have a big effect on the cost. All the costs are now based on the style of mediation your mediator uses. The main three functions that the cost are based on include the initial setup charge, the amount of time you spend in mediation and the hourly fee that the mediator charges. At this time, mediators are charging between $100 to $300 per hour. So, according to how much time is spent in mediation your bill can be very high.

When you and your spouse are headed for mediation be sure, you have everything planned out so the time spent with a mediator can be very little. You will also need to decide what type of mediator you will need, there are accountants that normally mediate for businesses and companies, but if you have joint business adventures you may wish to have an accountant as a mediator to ensure that the family owned businesses are divided to your satisfaction. Most mediators are therapists. They can be very sensitive to everyone, compassionate to your feelings, and work to get results handled in a timely manner. Therapists that have dealt with divorce cases are usually the best when it comes to helping couples work through their disagreements easily and quickly. Christian Fundamentalists will also mediate, but many times they work at trying to save the marriage more than working through the process to get the divorce handled.

As you can see, according to what type of mediation you need and whether it is ordered by the court, you can be looking at paying nothing to several thousands of dollars. All of this is according to how much time is spent in mediation and how much the mediator charges per hour. However, in the long run you will be spending less than if you went to court.

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Spousal Support

Posted by admin on 27th April 2006

Only one in six divorces discusses spousal support.  It’s no longer an automatic assumption that spousal support will be granted.  Gender is no longer a factor in awarding spousal support, nor is marital misconduct to be considered.  It’s usually a temporary order to help maintain the standard of living for the family and give the spouse seeking support a chance to increase their job skills and emotionally stabilize the family unit during the divorce procedure.

There are several factors involved in the decision if whether spousal support needs   awarded.  The court will take into consideration the standard of living the couple enjoyed and the length of the marriage.  If the court feels spousal support is needed, it can be ordered for either spouse for any amount and any period of time if it feels it is needed.

Other factors taken into consideration are; if the spouse asking for support has a child that makes it unreasonable for them to work outside the home, the length of time it would take for the supported spouse to learn the skills needed for a position outside the home and any educational classes that is needed in order to find full-time employment.  The age and health, length of marriage, and the emotional health of the spouse asking for support are also considered.

Other factors include the ability of the other spouse to pay, the hardship for the paying spouse, or a severe decline in their standard of living that also will be taken into account.

Permanent support or alimony is granted for a short time after a divorce to allow the spouse time to get back on their feet both emotionally and financially.  The length of time is determined by the court, but usually is half the amount of time of the marriage.  Consideration can also be given to spouse’s who helped educate and aided in the beginning and building of a business instead of pursuing their own career goals or education.

Alimony can be paid in a lump sum, monthly or weekly installments, or in real estate or assets.  Terms need to be discussed as to tax benefits, will and inheritance terms, and enforcement issues.  A change of conditions can also affect paying or receiving such as death, loss of income, cohabitation or remarriage.

In today’s economy, most of us have two income families.  Spousal support or alimony will be looked at with that in mind also.

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