HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON A DIVORCE
Jan. 29, 2021
If you’re considering divorce, or if you’ve already been served with divorce papers, a prime consideration is always the financial consequences. What will it cost me now and in the future?
The answer to “What will divorce cost me?” hinges largely on how much collaboration, cooperation, and agreements as to the issues that exist between the divorcing spouses. An adversarial “I have to win!” attitude by one or both parties will drag out proceedings both in and out of court and dramatically raise the cost for both parties.
If you’re contemplating or entering divorce proceedings in the communities of Johnson County, Wyandotte County, Miami County, or Leavenworth County Kansas, including Overland Park, Olathe, Shawnee, Leawood, Lenexa, Fairway, Mission, Merriam, Westwood, Lake Quivira, Mission Hills, or Prairie Village, contact the Jeffers Law Office. The firm provides comprehensive legal services for divorce cases and will work to see that your case will be given the individualized and personalized service it deserves.
WHAT DETERMINES THE COST OF DIVORCE?
Assets/debts, the financial status/income of each party, whether minor children are involved, and the degree of collaboration on the part of the divorcing spouses are all factors that contribute to determining the cost of a divorce.
Remember, the most common ground for divorce in Kansas is the “no fault" ground of "incompatibility" on the part of the spouses. Going the other way — trying to pin the fault on the other spouse because of failure to perform a material marital duty or mental incapacity — will likely result in an adversarial proceeding and drive up costs.
The one constant in divorce in Kansas is the court's filing fee, which is currently $197.50 in Johnson County. Beyond that — and again, depending on the degree of collaboration — there are hourly attorney fees with an upfront retainer, as well as the possibility of fees for additional court costs (such as the required parenting class if the parties have minor childen, mediation/conciliation, family assessments, etc.), therapists, psychologists, forensic accountants, and other experts, if needed.
Many of those possible additional fees can be minimized or eliminated if, once again, the parties agree to collaborate and agree as to their financial issues, including the "equitable" division of their assets/debts, and particulalrly as to a "parenting plan" addressing child custody ("joint legal custody" is the norm in Kansas), residency (where the minor children will live), and a parenting time schedule (when the minor children will be with Dad and when they will be with Mom). Otherwise, these can all become contentious issues to be fought out in court, and if the above-mentioned experts are utilized, at a much greater financial cost.
STRIVE FOR A PEACEFUL DIVORCE
If you can put emotions and past history aside and work together to agree on the issues between you and your spouse, this will save a lot of attorney fees and court costs. A divorce in Kansas can be finalized anytime after the case has been on file for 60 days, avoiding the hours or even days of contentious proceedings before a judge for a contested proceeding.
DO SOME OF THE WORK YOURSELF
Seeking a harmonious, or at least peaceful and respectful, solution between yourselves is best from both a financial and an emotional standpoint. Work together to resolve most if not all of the relevant issues.
For instance, you can work together on the financial side by exchanging all relevant documents such as income tax returns, W-2/1099 forms, paycheck stubs, financial account statements (both assets and debts) and also by downloading and filling out the required financial form, the Kansas Domestic Relations Affidavit ("DRA"). You can then submit this form to your attorney(s) and avoid the additional cost of having your attorney prepare it.
The division of assets such as homes, cars, and financial accounts (including retirement accounts) should also be discussed, and at least the framework for a resolution arrived at. There’s no need to fight over every last piece of furniture or pot and pan. Your attorneys can help you arrive at a final resolution if you work with them.
As to issues involving minor children and the corresponding issues of child custody and parenting time schedules, once again, collaboration will save the cost of bringing in mediators or fighting it out in court. Spousal support and child support issues can, by their nature, be more contentious, but with the help of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney, even these issues can be worked out through settlement negotiations and not litigated in open court.
In short, the more issues you can agree upon between yourselves, the better your odds are at minimizing the costs for both of you. In addition, you won’t have to face the uncertainty of how a judge will rule on your issues in court.
WORK WITH AN EXPERIENCED
FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY
If you’re considering divorce but haven’t filed yet, get the advice of a good family law attorney before proceeding. Talk it over with your spouse as amicably as possible and try to come up with a joint plan of action, but do so with the advice and guidance of an experienced attorney.
If, on the other hand, your spouse files for divorce and hires an attorney, you’re in the bind of either hiring an attorney or trying to represent yourself in court — or just throwing in the towel, so to speak. The issues involved in a divorce proceeding are complex, and the lay person will not usually know, but will nevertheless be expected to know, and understand all the nuances and consequences of various relevant statutes (state laws), rules (both local and state-wide), guidelines (state-wide as to child support and local as to parenting plan, spousal support, and financial/debt division issues), and procedures (state laws as to evidence and civil procedure). You need an experienced family law attorney on your side.
Better yet, the two of you need to work together to resolve matters between yourselves as much as possible, or even better, strive for an uncontested divorce. The results will most likely be most beneficial for both of you in terms of finances and emotional duress.
Attorney Mark Jeffers of the Jeffers Law Office is an adept problem-solver in matters of divorce and has worked with countless others like you to achieve the most harmonious result possible. You can rely on his experience, expertise, and skills as you resolve issues and work to arrive at a favorable agreement.
If you’re in the Johnson County area, or in the counties of Wyandotte, Miami or Leavenworth, contact the Jeffers Law Office today for a free initial telephone consultation.