E. Spencer Walton

The filing of a divorce, with or without children, places a huge financial and emotional impact upon families. Once a divorce has been filed, life will no longer be the same for the husband, the wife, nor their children. The emotional impact of a divorce will be the subject of another article.

 The financial impact is obvious, as most couples have only one marital residence and generally spend most of their combined income on their day-to-day lives. Once a divorce is filed, typically one spouse is required to leave the marital residence and, thus, attempt to move forward with the additional cost of totally separate living quarters for either party and/or their children.

FINANCIAL IMPACT AND WAYS TO HELP SAVE MONEY

There are many ways you can save on attorney’s fees by helping your lawyer when your divorce is filed. The date of filing of the divorce is a key date where most assets and debts are valued. Providing the documents that establish the value of each of your assets and debts on the date of filing for divorce can save a substantial amount of the expenses incurred by providing this information in a well-organized fashion to your attorney.

 When divorce is anticipated, it is beneficial to start collecting documentation for all outstanding debts, including utilities, credit cards, mortgage payments, loan payments, etc. closest to the date of filing. Spouses tend to lock out the other from accounts after divorce is filed, so you should try to collect this information as soon as possible. Otherwise, the attorney’s office will be required have you gather all these documents and records and the attorney’s office will have to make these calculations on your behalf.

 It is also important to know that any charge or purchase after the date of filing most generally is paid by the person incurring that debt.

 Typically, attorneys use the Kelly Blue Book values for the vehicles, which requires a detail of each vehicle in order to obtain its value. If you own real estate, it’s also necessary to have a certified appraisal performed on your residence, which is generally available at a relatively small price.

 You should also gather all tax information for the past two years and copies of a couple of your most recent paystubs. You should also provide the cost of health insurance for yourself, your spouse, and your children generally found on a document provided by your employer. If there are children, you also need to gather the annual cost for daycare to provide to your attorney.

 It is extremely important to have a document that matches each asset or debt. If you do so, you could literally save thousands of dollars in the preparation of your case.

CHOOSING YOUR ATTORNEY

 Finally, it should be of importance to you in the selection of your attorney to find one who is skilled in divorces. The old phrase “you get what you pay for” is very true when it comes to the division of the assets, debts, and matters involving your children.

 It is also wise to seek a law firm that not only offers a Partner with skills to handle your case at Partner rates, but also includes Associates and Paralegals at lower hourly rates who are also highly skilled in working with the Partner to perform the tasks necessary for your case. If this work  can be done by the Associate or Paralegal at a lower rate, it also saves a great deal of money.

MEDIATION

Finally, Indiana Courts are sending parties to mediation to resolve their case. Resolution through mediation can save thousands of dollars of the costs and expenses of going to trial. My own experience in using mediation is that a meaningful mediation will settle approximately 80-85% of all cases. The time spent at mediation will directly transfer to preparation for a trial should you not be able to have an agreement.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

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