Archive for March, 2016

Isn’t Marriage Grand? Of course it is – Until it’s not.

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

And when it takes that turn towards divorce, no one feels secure.  The same way you plan for a marriage (booking the venue, the caterer, finding the perfect photographer, and let’s not forget the dress), you should also plan for a divorce – only, it’s not as much fun as wedding planning.  Divorce can feel like the death of a family member in a lot of ways.  You will likely grieve over the loved one you used to know.  It may feel as if the home you once lived in together as a loving family now feels like a cold, empty place where the love died.  You need legal help.  You want to know what your rights are as a spouse.  You want to know that by moving out, you’re not doing anything “wrong,” per se.  Not just these few items, but there are millions of other questions floating around in your mind.  One of the biggest questions is: How much is all of this going to cost me?  Let’s dive into that.

Poking around the internet you will find quite a few ads stating something similar to this: file your divorce papers in as little as 30 minutes with “100% Court Approval Guarantee” for just $139.  There are a number of websites dedicated to getting you the documents you need to file for divorce yourself.  However, there’s a problem in doing this – there is no legal advice to protect you and your particular rights to property and rights to your own children.  It’s very important to note that in doing this on your own would require that both parties agree to every aspect of the divorce, from who gets the house, couches, and antiques to child custody and visitation as well as child support.  You also have bigger issues such as real property possession.

It is important to note that companies that provide instant or quick divorces for a low cost make the assumption that they have particular compliance with every state’s regulations pertaining to divorce.  Also, all issues would have to be agreed to by both parties in order to obtain a divorce by filing it yourself.  Although, it is possible to obtain a divorce by doing so yourself; however, in counties in the state of Mississippi that require electronic filing it will be necessary that you apply for privileges to the online filing system in the respected county of your residence.  Also, many of the online divorce companies that provide paperwork are a source of revenue for attorneys and so far that we must correct any deficiencies to state particular requirements that the company has not addressed in the forms that are provided to the consumer.  It is important to know that an uncontested divorce could potentially be had by purchasing paper work will require that you and your spouse have total agreement on every single issue involved in your divorce.  These issues are as obvious as child custody and support but can also entail issues regarding visitation, structuring of the visitation, structuring of where the child/ren will stay on holidays, whether or not specific provisions are needed to provide for specific relief such as prohibiting a parent from a certain behavior that is not in the best interest of the child/ren during a visitation or custody period (consumption of alcohol or allowing a significant other to spend the night being two common examples).

Although, attorneys that handle divorce cases are well-accustomed to asking the right questions that are needed in order to ensure that the court order is in keeping not only the best interest of the child/ren, but in the interest of both parents.  It’s important to also note that online divorce companies are unable to provide specific legal advice to a client in any state unless it’s provided by an attorney with a license to practice in that state.  In other words, you have to trust an unqualified person to protect your fundamental divorce and custody rights when you waive your right to legal representation.  It’s notable that many attorneys that practice domestic law are aware that the vast majority of statute and federal law on point only goes to issues such as original jurisdiction and parental kidnapping or other associated matters that deal with the crossing of state lines.  Therefore, there is a plethora of information regarding specific state child custody laws contained within the statutes of each individual state.

Where you live will affect the amount you will pay for your divorce.  You hear this about real estate law and the same holds true for divorce: location, location, location.  The national average of a contested divorce is somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000 (Seldon, 2013).  Uncontested divorces can range between $500 and $3,000 depending on all the factors of your divorce.

According to Seldon (2013), some of the fees associated with divorce that you should expect are, but are not limited to:

– Attorney’s fees

– Court costs, filing fees, and service charges

– Guardian Ad Litem, if needed for children

– Parent classes, if children are involved

Talking to an experienced attorney will save you a lot of time and frustration (and money) when it comes to your divorce.  Knowing what is expected of you and your spouse in a legal manner will also help with making the transition from being married to divorce much smoother.  It is important to hire an attorney that has the requisite experience in domestic litigation and has knowledge as to the valuation of property, income, potential for alimony or the defense thereof, as well as all of the intricacies that can arise when dissolving a marriage.  Matthew has practiced law in the state of Mississippi since 2004 and has focused his practice exclusively on domestic litigation and litigation concerning real property, division of property title, and matters that pertain to ownership and use of property.  Matthew has practiced law substantially in the domestic arena since 2005.  Matthew maintains membership in the family law and real law section of the Mississippi Bar Association and has done so since 2005.  It’s important to hire an attorney that is knowledgeable not only as to asset evaluation but is knowledgeable as to the subtleties and differences in approach that are functional as to obtaining custody of a minor child/ren.  Whether your case is based in contempt of a prior court order, the request of modification of a prior court order, or any other Chancery Court matter related to child custody, Matthew has the experience and the ability to provide insight that will greatly affect not only your future interests but the best interest of your minor child/ren.

Moral of the story: Divorce can be expensive, but taking the short easy path has long term consequences which are even more costly.  Be careful hiring someone who has not practiced divorce law for at least 10 years.  Also, those that practice in a variety of law areas are not prone to know all of the laws regarding each area.  Ask a lot of questions.  If you don’t feel at peace with the situation, ask more questions.  In our next blog, we will dive into questions that you may not think to ask your attorney.

References

Boreden, L. (2015, Apr, 14). How Much Will It Cost? [Web log post].

Kallen III, C.G., J.D. (2016, Jan, 18). How To Save On the Cost of A Divorce

Receive Divorce Forms Easily. (2016).

Magloff, L. (2016, Feb, 28). The Average Cost of Divorce [Web log post].

Seldon, L (2013, May, 30). How Much Does the Average Divorce Really Cost? [Web log post].