Filing for divorce can improve your life in many ways. However, you might feel worried about how you will afford the divorce. Between court fees, the time you will have to take off from work, and lawyer fees, the divorce expenses can add up. Here, I will discuss some common divorce fees and how to keep the costs down.
It is no secret that many couples pay thousands of dollars during the divorce process. However, it is important to understand that not every divorce is the same, and there are ways that you can lower the cost of your divorce. In most divorce cases, each spouse will pay their legal and court costs. In some cases, a judge can order one spouse to pay for both partners legal and court fees. This might happen in a case where one spouse is a stay at home parent and the other spouse supports the family financially. The spouse that has a distinct financial advantage might have to pay some or all of the court costs for both spouses. If you believe that your spouse should pay for your legal and court fees, discuss this option with them, or with your judge.
Additional fees will depend on your personal case. If you and your spouse have a custody battle, it can get extremely expensive. Marital assets and debt are other fees that you will have to deal with. In some cases these costs will be relatively low, however, in others, they might be considerably high.
The biggest cost that you will face in divorce will come about as a result of your divorce attorney. Attorney fees can be extremely high. Regardless, in most cases it is important to have a lawyer represent you in court and guide you through this difficult and confusing process. It is advised that you have a divorce attorney handle your case, however, you do not need to hire the most expensive attorney in town. If you do some research, you might find a highly experienced lawyer who does not charge outrageous fees. This would be the ideal situation.
Furthermore, the more that you and your spouse can agree on outside of court, the less money you will have to spend on court fees, lawyer fees, and other legal costs. Consider working out as much as possible with your spouse before going to court if you are concerned about money.
Reducing Lawyer Fees
If you are talking to lawyers about your divorce, don’t ask them about their “retainer” fees. Ask them the average billing for the last 10 clients that look like your case. Make them put it in writing. Ask for names of former clients and call them and ask about the fee. A lawyer with a good relationship with their former clients shouldn’t have a problem with this. Search for the lawyer’s name on court online docket sheets and see if they have sued a lot of clients for fees. This might give you an example of lawyers who keep the clock running too long.
One of the best ways to keep divorce costs low is by acting quickly. The longer that divorce cases drag on, the more money you will have to pay. If you and your spouse can come to agreements quickly and avoid fighting over assets, you will be able to keep the cost of your divorce relatively low. In the sake of quickness, you should also consider getting a prenuptial agreement before you and your spouse get married. If you have a prenuptial agreement, this means that you and your spouse have already discussed divorce and have come to terms of an agreement in the event of a divorce. It is a sensible way to make sure that you and your spouse get what you want out of the divorce without fighting.
Communicating with Your Spouse
By discussing who will get what in a divorce before a divorce is a real possibility, you and your spouse will be more likely to work together and compromise. Even if you do not have a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse should try to work with each other, as opposed to fighting constantly during the divorce. This will make the process go much quicker and potentially keep your case out of court. If you and your spouse can come to a divorce settlement agreement without involving a judge, the process will be much easier and faster. This will ultimately keep costs low.
One of the most important things that you can do to keep your divorce costs low is to know what you’re agreeing to in the settlement. Depreciating assets, hidden taxes, bad investments, and unrealistic budgets can all have astronomical costs. If you don’t have a plan for sorting through these hidden fees, you could go bankrupt as a result of your divorce.
Finding the Right Lawyer
Another good way to keep costs of a divorce low is to hire an affordable, experienced divorce lawyer. Know what you are paying for before you hire a divorce lawyer. Many lawyers offer a free consultation, so you should take advantage of this free meeting and get answers to your questions. Ask the lawyer questions about their services, how they plan to help you with your divorce, and, most importantly, what the costs will be. Make sure that the lawyer does not charge hidden fees. Also, try to find a lawyer who offers a flat fee instead of charging by the hour. I offer a flat fee and a free consultation. To discuss your divorce, you can contact my office.
Our Fee Policy
One of the biggest questions people have when contemplating divorce is the cost associated with it. Unlike most firms, we don’t hide our fees and the costs of divorce, we want you to come into this with open eyes and a full understanding of everything that is going on.
A retainer fee is an upfront fee that you must pay to hire the firm. The firm then takes this payment and puts it in trust for the client. The lawyer’s hourly rate (i.e. hours worked on the case), court costs, etc. will then be deducted from the retainer amount that you have in trust. Any amount of the retainer that is not used, will be refunded to you at the conclusion of the case or representation.
The biggest hurdle to hiring the lawyer of your choice is often the Retainer Fees. A Retainer Fee is an upfront payment or deposit paid to the lawyer at the time he or she is hired. As a lawyer, we don’t control the cost of cases, believe it or not. Our clients determine the cost based on the level of conflict. That means that the more complicated your case is, the higher your retainer may be. Our retainers are refundable as well so any portion of the retainer that is “unused” is refunded to you at the conclusion of your case. We can take a retainer fee by way of a credit card, a check, cash or someone else can make a deposit on your behalf. No matter what, the funds go into a trust account for you and remain your funds until we bill against them.
Amount of our Retainer:
Retainer Fees range from $5,000 to $50,000 depending on the complexity of the case. Most retainer amounts will range from $5000 to $10,000. Note however that, a replenishment would be required if the first deposit that you paid has been spent. The factors that increase the retainer are: (a) whether there are children involved in the suit; (b) assets involved in a divorce; (c) anticipated level of conflict; (d) the attorney on the other side; (e) Court that the case is filed in; and, (f) probability that a client will pay in the future.
Additional Funds: How will you pay for fees that go over the Retainer? There are a variety of methods, but usually it involves getting a bill and being asked to send in a check for more. Sometimes a client is required to keep a certain positive balance, called an “Evergreen Retainer” – because there is always green ($$) in the account. Our firm will send the client monthly invoices which provide detail of how time was spent working on the case, the cost for that month, and the amount of funds remaining in that client’s trust.
We bill hourly for our divorce cases, and our hourly rates are as follows
Jacqueline McMahon – $250 per hour
Jade Baldwin – $250 per hour
Stephen Lebedevitch – $250 per hour
Paralegal Time – $150 per hour
Bookkeeping Time – $100 per hour
One of the toughest projects in a divorce is assembling all the financial records and determining the proper amounts in the filing of a Financial Affidavit. To make your life easier, we will assign a bookkeeping assistant to your file who will instruct you on the records you need to obtain and who will prepare your affidavit for your review and signature. This makes your life tremendously easier and reduces the costs of an attorney working on this bookkeeping function.
Tax Consequences to Divorce
Another issue of divorce is tax consequences. Your taxes will change after divorce, and you need to understand what these changes will mean. If you have recently undergone a divorce or are in the process of getting divorced, and you are unsure about how to file for taxes, you should talk to a lawyer. Ideally, you would like to find a lawyer who has a strong finance background and a lot of experience dealing with cases similar to yours. Your lawyer should address the issues that you might face in the state of Connecticut.
Common Tax Issues
One of the many issues that you could face as a tax consequence of divorce in Connecticut is the question of alimony. Alimony is taxed to the recipient and deducted from the payer. Spousal support works in this way, with the recipient being taxes and the payer receiving the deductible.
Another tax issue deals with child dependency exemptions. In general, the spouse that has custody of the child or the one who truly needs the benefit will be exempt. Home mortgage interest is another issue because interest being paid on a mortgage can be a deductible. You should take all of these possible deductions into consideration when doing your taxes and talk to an attorney or an accountant so that you can fully understand what you owe.
It can also be difficult to determine how you file taxes if you are separated or in the process of getting a divorce. If you are in the process of getting a divorce and you are legally unmarried by the last day of the year, you cannot file taxes as married. This means that timing your divorce and the tax year will be important if you are concerned about filing for taxes. There are many aspects of tax consequences that go along with divorce. You should consider issues such as alimony and support when taxes come up. If you are on good terms with your former spouse, talk to them about any issues that you are having. A lawyer can always help you to figure out what you are responsible for what you owe and what you are entitled to receive.