Divorce is an extremely trying time for the parties involved. Divorce is stressful and painful, even if you are the spouse that wanted to end the marriage. Not surprisingly then, resolving all the issues is not easy either. The divorce process is called a process for a reason. It is like grieving—you must go through the stages. How do you keep a handle on attorneys’ fees while going through the process? Here are two more secrets to help you manage your attorneys’ fees during a divorce.
1. Do not wait to settle your case on the courthouse steps. The first day of trial has finally arrived, you are at the courthouse when suddenly the reality of airing all of the family’s dirty laundry to a perfect stranger and the total absence of control over the outcome sinks in. You decide it is time to settle rather than roll the dice. Great!
Your attorney, however, has spent the last two weeks preparing for your trial. Your attorney has taken on your worries so you can sleep at night as the trial date approaches. Your attorney has not slept or eaten in days. She is ready to present an outstanding case, but your attorneys’ fees are now astronomical because of the amount of time necessary to prepare for the trial. You successfully settle your case at the courthouse instead of being sworn in to testify. Then you get the final bill. You are in sticker shock.
You can avoid that bill by not waiting until your case has been called for trial to seriously focus on settlement. Take advantage of all of the alternative dispute resolution methods available to you, such as mediation, late case evaluation, and, in Fulton County, Georgia (and other jurisdictions), Judicially Hosted Settlement Conferences.
Many clients have a difficult time reaching a place where he or she is emotionally ready to settle. The client is certain she deserves more than what is being offered, or he feels he should give less than what is being demanded. The client is positive that when the judge hears what a dirty rotten so and so the spouse is, the judge will give the client everything he or she wants. Your attorney can assure you that there are two sides to every story, and the judge will listen to both. The judge will equitably divide the assets, award child support in accordance with the child support guidelines, and make sure both parties have sufficient assets to start the next chapter of their lives. The court’s primary focus will be on making sure the best interests of the children are protected. Since reasonable minds can differ over what that means, you and your spouse are in the best position and have the most insight to figure out what is truly in the children’s best interest. Figure that out sooner rather than later, along with the other disputed issues. It will save you a lot of money.
2. When considering divorce, learn about the Collaborative Divorce Process. The Collaborative Divorce Process allows you all of the time you need to grieve the end of your marriage while providing professional support by way of financial neutrals, divorce coaches, and child specialists to help you through the grieving process. Since nothing is filed in court until all of the issues are resolved, there will be no trial date scheduled over which you have no control. You are in charge of the timing of everything, and even if one spouse is emotionally ahead in the healing process, the one who is struggling more will be given the opportunity to catch up before a final settlement agreement is reached.