Category Archives: Saving Money

Do I Need a Lawyer?

I am often asked, “Do I need a lawyer, it’s so expensive.” The answer to that question is yes and no- I hear you laughing, “that’s a lawyer’s answer.” True!

Are you comfortable with public speaking? Can you communicate your ideas clearly? Have you taken advantage of your court’s self-help center? Are you organized? Have you Googled divorce, alimony, and child support to begin educating yourself? Can you speak to your soon to be Ex so that you can resolve issues? If you answered no, you need a lawyer.

Do you own a home? Do you have children? Are you disabled or have a serious illness? Do you have a retirement plan or a complicated financial history?  Are you over the age of 50? If you answered yes, you need a lawyer.

BUT, you may not need a lawyer for every step of your divorce. You can hire a lawyer to perform only certain tasks or draft certain documents, or just advise you as you move forward with your divorce. This type of limited representation will reduce your legal costs while providing you with support.

The most effective way to reduce your legal expenses is to create a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement and BE REASONABLE. Zillow is not the actual value of your home, the black velvet painting of Elvis is not worth as much as you think, and you may not be entitled to alimony no matter that s/he was unfaithful.  You will need an attorney to help you through the drafting and negotiation of the agreement but you will reduce your costs if you come prepared and willing to settle with your soon to be Ex.

A divorce is the ending of a “business transaction” so don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.  A divorce is more time consuming that researching your next car or your kid’s college so be ready to put in the time or live with the results.

 

Mediation Can Save You Money

Let’s start with what mediation is not. Mediation is not a legal proceeding and may or may not be required in your state.

Then what is mediation? It is a guided conversation between you and your spouse. The mediator will facilitate the conversation between the two of you but will not become an active part of the conversation. Sounds “new age,” but it’s not. Mediation is what you used to do when you were married and could talk to your spouse. Where to go for dinner, where to spend Thanksgiving this year, how to raise your children, or rules of the house; you talked and resolved the matter between you in a way that, hopefully, you both thought was fair.

What is the goal of mediation? The goal is to help you and your spouse arrive at a solution on how to sell the house, or determine child access, or about the payment of alimony. Remember, it is a conversation that is focused on helping you achieve what’s best for both of you and your family as you begin the transition from your married life.

Will the mediator write a settlement agreement for us? No, the role of the mediator is to foster conversation and guide you both to reaching your own goals based on your personal and specific concerns. The mediator will draft a “term sheet” that lists the areas of agreement between you and your spouse then you will take that term sheet back to your attorney to have it crafted into a settlement agreement.

Why should I do mediation rather than just work with my attorney? Mediation is less costly than attorney’s fees, less adversarial, and should lead to a faster and more equitable solution to the issues surrounding your divorce. The mediator is in addition to your attorney. A mediator cannot represent you in your divorce and all conversations in mediation are confidential and cannot be used in court except as those conversations are represented in the mutually agreed upon term sheet.

How do I find a mediator? Hey Google……. or check with the courthouse or with your attorney for names of mediators in your area. If you can’t afford a mediator, the court may appoint one free of charge if you meet the income guidelines. Otherwise, ask each mediator about their fees. Meet with the mediators and choose the one that you feel will best work with you because personality counts just as much as the fee when selecting a mediator. Generally, mediator fees are split between the two parties.

I do meditation in the Maryland counties of Frederic, Washington, and Montgomery.I am also available for mediation in Northern Virginia.