Sunday, September 27, 2009

Is Divorce Too Expensive?

Today I write for those who want to get divorced but lack the money to do so  - or so they think.

I write about how to find affordable legal services.  The underlying idea here is to connect you with the services you need and explain why you need these services.

You need these legal services because your finances are too constrained to make a mistake in your divorce that will cost you more than if you had originally hired a lawyer.

Here are the general suggestions:

  1. If you do not have real estate or children or joint debt, the Indiana Supreme Court has created forms for pro se (do-it-yourself) divorces.  You can access them here. (There are also forms for contested divorces).
  2. If you have real estate or children or joint debt and have no disputes between yourselves, then you need to find a lawyer.
  3. If you still feel a need to unleash your inner Perry Mason, go here.
Here are some suggestions about finding a lawyer:
  1. See if there is a local pro bono program - check with the courts or local bar association for information.  If no luck, then go here.
  2. Go to the Yellow Pages - online or hard copy - and start looking for divorce lawyers.  
  3. Do not go by what you read online about attorney fees, most articles I see come from the coasts and are not what you will be seeing in Indiana.
  4. What you want to know are the total costs for an uncontested divorce. 
  5. How to find out what are the total costs for a divorce lawyer:  1) ask if they charge a flat rate for uncontested divorces or only charge an hourly rate;  and 2) if they charge an hourly rate what they estimate for the total amount of time.  (I have people who call up all the time, ask me what is my hourly rate, and when told then hang up.  Knowing only my hourly rate did not tell that person what would the cost of hiring me.)
  6. If the cost is still too high, find out if the lawyer will provide unbundled services.  I have only just begun to do this in my own practice and I do not think there are many of us doing this in Indiana - so far.  Then ask how the lawyer breaks down the work and the fees.  (For why I am offering these services go here.)
Notice that in the above, I assume that the issues that can come back on you with problems are uncontested, but for contest case the questions to put to the lawyer remain the same.

Still want that thrill of being Alan Shore?  Then go here. Read it all very closely.

I want to credit Is Divorce Becoming a Luxury? with giving me the inspiration for this  post.

No comments: