Category Archives: separation

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.

 

Get Out of the House!

How many movies have you seen where one spouse (usually the wife) screams at the husband to get out of the house because she wants a divorce? We’ve seen that scene so many times that we have come to believe that the husband must leave and slink off to a hotel while he finds a place to live. But does the husband have to leave? NO.

There is a difference between what is practical and what is legal. Practicality probably demands that you find a place to sleep for the night however, the court is not going to throw you out of your house and neither will the police. You can stay in your home until such time as one person is required to leave the home to comply with the law as to the amount of time the couple has lived apart, in different homes, and without sex, in order to file for divorce. In Maryland, that time is 12 months for couples with children.

If you can afford to move out at the beginning of the separation process, you will feel calmer but it will place a financial strain on you to support two households. Yes, you still need to provide support for your children and, to the best of your ability, to provide support for your wife. DO NOT provide payments in cash, but use a check so that you can show the court that you have not shirked your duties to provide for your family.

If you have a landlord or mortgage company, pay them directly because not only is your credit at stake but the court will not look favorably on you if you leave your family without housing. If your wife works, then agree on an amount that you will provide towards the rent or mortgage payment.

Next—-hire a lawyer!