How to Save Money in a Divorce - a Roadmap
This section of the website is designed to help you get out of a problem marriage as affordably as possible. It is designed for spouses without significant spousal or parental misconduct as good faith cooperation and compromise is required. Before reviewing these steps, you should first consider if your marriage is one where a contested action should be filed immediately - see - Should I File Now?
There are three ways to get divorced:
1. Uncontested - prior to filing, the couple agrees on all terms of the divorce and executes all documents necessary to finalize the divorce. There are advantages and disadvantages. This is the most affordable route, but, again, you have to be able to work with your spouse in good faith.
2. Collaborative - prior to filing, the couple executes a standardized contract called a "Collaborative Participation Agreement" ("CPA") which has gained general acceptance across the country. This is a contract like any other. In short, the CPA is an agreement to work out a uncontested divorce. However, the traditional CPA has a serious drawback - the "collaborative lawyers" agree they will not serve as trial counsel. So, if the parties cannot work out all terms uncontested, the "collaborative lawyers" cannot represent the clients in litigation. Mr. Hippe encourages the use of a modified more flexible "pre-filing agreement" without this drawback.
3. Contested Litigation - the parties utilize the court system in the adversarial process. Contested litigation is expensive, stressful and slow. But there are advantages. The principal advantage is you "get to it", if negotiations are likely to prove futile. (Sometimes the only way to get divorced is to "slog" through contested litigation and hopefully settle along the way.) And some parties need to file contested. See Should I File Now?
If you do not need to file immediately, and if you and your spouse are capable of reasonable negotiation, then you should follow the below 7 steps. Please review these carefully.
These suggested steps are applicable to a divorce anywhere in the United States. The effort is to encourage "fair minded" attorneys to work together to come up with a pre-filing plan that works for your unique situation. The core of the "Roadmap" is a unique "Pledge" that both attorneys should be asked to accept.
So, no matter if you are in Georgia or not, you should review the below 7 steps carefully, have your spouse review them, see if you can agree to follow the suggested structure.
Why is the Cost of Divorce so High?
First, divorce is an industry. It appears that Americans may spend over fifty billion dollars ($50,000,000,000) annually on legal fees in divorce cases. According to a 2006 Forbes article, the average cost of a contested divorce in the U.S. ranges from $15,000 to $30,000. Prominent divorce firms in the Atlanta area can charge over $100,000 for the full trial of a contested action.
Second, emotional clients drive litigation. And, as a general rule, divorce lawyers have the financial incentive (and arguably the obligation as advocates) to take aggressive positions and press contested actions.
This site tries to help you avoid a costly divorce by providing both information and suggested structure - a step by step process that both spouses will follow. Please carefully review all seven steps below. If both you and your spouse will commit to these steps, thousands of dollars of legal fees can be saved.
If your divorce involves significant marital assets, or if you suspect you are otherwise looking at an expensive divorce, upon proper engagement, Mr. Hippe is happy to consult with any individual anywhere in the U.S. and help formulate a plan to try to avoid a costly battle. Although Mr. Hippe is only licensed in Georgia, he has represented clients in divorce actions in other states pro hac vice. Provide there is local counsel, Mr. Hippe can be engaged to assist a client in any state.