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Collaborative Law: A Sane Approach To Divorce

The average cost of a contested divorce in Texas is $15,600 -- and that number jumps to $23,500 if there are children involved*. The bulk of that money goes to attorneys' fees, with the rest covering costs associated with court filings, serving documents, and paying for the services of tax advisors, financial analysts, child custody evaluators and other professionals.

Unfortunately, DIY divorces -- that is, divorces without an attorney -- can result in disaster (although, see our note on "Keep It Simple" divorces, below, for help). While this would seem to be a cost-effective way to end a marriage, the process is anything but straightforward. Our state's courts have incredibly complicated rules for filing; forgetting to include a provision or cross a T could result in a frustrating delay in obtaining your divorce decree, and lead to errors that come back to haunt. DIY divorce couples often make mistakes in matters concerning money -- they fail to understand their tax obligations, or the laws governing retirement, real estate, child support and alimony. In fact, many couples who begin a DIY divorce end up needing a lawyer later on.

Still, there are cheaper -- and less stressful -- alternatives to traditional divorce.

Working Together To Reach Resolution

Increasingly, couples are turning to collaborative law divorce as a means of ending their marriages. As its name implies, collaborative divorce is a process through which spouses work together -- with the help of lawyers -- to decide how their assets should be divided and how their parental responsibilities should be split. The involvement of lawyers is crucial; they help the couple avoid common legal missteps and ensure the divorce proceeds as smoothly as it can. Neutral financial and mental health experts also assist in the process (rather than 'hired guns' on each side). Still, a great deal of the work is handled by the spouses themselves, and matters are typically resolved in a much shorter period of time.

And for much less money. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average expense of a collaborative divorce can be about half the cost of a typical Texas divorce. But that's not the only advantage. Spouses are more satisfied with their outcomes, as they (and not the courts) directed the process. 

Keeping It Simple

Our firm offers another option for couples pursuing an uncontested divorce: the "Keep It Simple" divorce program. Through this program, a person seeking a divorce gets a personal consultation with an experienced attorney, who guides them through the ins and outs of completing a divorce, as well as the services of a paralegal who helps to prepare the necessary legal documents. The firm assists in other procedural processes as well.

The fee for a "Keep It Simple" divorce is typically $1,000 or under -- a touch more than a DIY divorce may seem to cost, but, in many cases, ultimately cheaper. It can be a good choice in situations wherein spouses are able to agree on their most important decisions, and wherein their estates and assets are relatively uncomplicated.

A divorce will always be complex -- emotionally as well as financially. But there are ways to emerge from the process without losing your savings to legal fees.

*http://family-law.lawyers.com/divorce/divorce-in-texas.html

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