Critical Information About Divorce

Divorce - September 4, 2017
Man signing a divorce document next to wedding ring

Reasons for divorce differ widely and, while couples and their children may be better off after a divorce than before, the unfortunate fact is that all parties lose something. Divorce can be emotionally and financially devastating for everyone involved.

It’s vital that you understand some important legal issues that frequently arise during a divorce. If you are considering divorce or have any questions call your LegalShield provider law firm and speak with a lawyer.

  • Early intervention – Starting divorce counseling early in the process may help couples, particularly those with children, create an atmosphere in the divorce that will minimize anger and enmity. Mediation and counseling also help improve communication between the couple and lead to more amicable and less costly divorce proceedings.
  • “No fault” divorce – A “no fault” divorce means that neither party is considered at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. State or provincial requirements may vary. Some laws may require the parties to live separate and apart for a period of months before the divorce is granted. This period may be extended if there are minor children of the marriage. Talk to your LegalShield provider about the laws where you live.
  • Uncontested divorce – In an uncontested divorce the parties agree on the distribution of property, terms of support and custody without court intervention. Just because spouses agree to a divorce does not mean the divorce is uncontested; they must also agree on all the divorce settlement terms. Uncontested divorces are less costly and may benefit both parties. It is important to speak with an attorney, even in cases of uncontested divorce, to understand the laws in the jurisdiction where the divorce will be filed and because circumstances may change if a dispute arises while negotiating the settlement.
  • Contested divorce – Contested divorces are those where there are disputes over spousal support, child support, property distribution, child custody or visitation. Most lawyers require minimum retainers of at least $4,000 and sometimes up to $10,000 to begin a contested divorce. Attorneys may also charge rates exceeding $250 per hour. Early mediation can help reduce or eliminate the contested issues, significantly reducing the final cost of the divorce. More conflict in a divorce will result in a higher cost for everyone involved.
  • Discovery – Contested divorces in which spousal or child support or distribution of property is contested will often include extensive discovery of all the financial, insurance, retirement funds, investment funds, real estate, car titles and employment records of each party for several years prior to the filing of the divorce. The time and expense associated with discovery will drastically increase the cost of your divorce.
  • Punishment – Divorce proceedings are intended only to dissolve the marriage, distribute property and provide for the best interests of the children. Courts will not use the proceeding to “punish” a spouse. Discuss your legal options with your lawyer to make sure your decisions are based on legal merit rather than anger and frustration.
  • Unpredictable outcomes – Some states do not have a set formula for spousal support or property division in a contested divorce. This may make contested divorces in those state highly unpredictable and costly. Working out a settlement before going to court will help avoid surprises.
  • Attorney-client confidentiality – Attorney-client confidentiality protects direct communication between you and your lawyer. These communications, whether in person, by phone or online, cannot be used against you in court. A breach of attorney-client privilege can seriously harm your divorce case. Avoid discussing your case with anyone other than your lawyer.
  • Social media – Social media posts and email communications are increasingly being used as evidence in divorce and child custody cases. These communications are not protected by attorney-client confidentiality. No matter what your intention when posting something online, consider how it could come back to haunt you in court. The best advice is to take a break from Facebook or other social media during a divorce or custody dispute.

There are many other issues that affect the emotional and financial cost of a divorce. If you are considering divorce, call your LegalShield provider law firm first. The caring attorneys at the firm will answer your questions and do all they can to reduce the emotional and financial cost of divorce.