Many people look for the cheapest alternative when considering a divorce in San Diego as a divorce is a very stressful time financially as well as emotionally. Many have trouble making the current payments living together and living apart only exacerbates this. Do-it-yourself divorces or document preparation services are seen as thrifty alternatives to hiring an attorney.
However, in the long run, these “thrifty” alternatives can carry a high price tag. Having a qualified, knowledgeable San Diego divorce attorney can assist in an order for a final property settlement, child support and spousal, as well as custody and visitation which are in accord with the San Diego Superior Court judgments on these issues. You may, however, be eligible for a summary dissolution which is much less complicated and you may be able to do yourself. Of course, you also have the option of self representation and, in San Diego County, the assistance of the Family Law Facilitator. Given the current law in California, there are strict time limits to set aside a judgment so it is crucial to make sure your judgment is in accord with the law used in San Diego by the Judges. Rushing to hire a lawyer at the last minute may increase costs or lead to unnecessary delays.
While document preparation services often employ paralegals familiar with family law, paralegals are prohibited by law from giving you legal advice. And the settlement terms you agree to, once approved by the Court, are the terms you’re stuck with unless you can obtain relief under the Family Law Code. It is best not to have to make a motion to set aside a judgment as this can be denied. Before a judgment, the parties have many rights they do not after a judgment.
For many people, the first question they ask a San Diego divorce attorney is “how much will it cost?” Attorneys, in family law, will either charge an hourly rate of a flat fee. Some attorneys may quote a more modest retainer, but add extra for expenses such as copying, postage, travel to hearings, etc. Still, others charge for costs such as the filing with an attorney service.
The law for a divorce is so complicated, however, three simple tactics can help you get the best value for your money when hiring a divorce attorney: having realistic expectations, being willing to compromise, and being properly prepared. Of course, you must also cooperate with the production of documents and other mandatory requirements for pleadings. It is important to be able to make an informed and intelligent decision and having a realistic expectation of what a Judge would order in a San Diego divorce court is very good information to start.
A good attorney will tell you what to expect in a typical divorce. While there may some variables in your situation, the law’s usual objective is a 50-50 split of both property and debts. In general, if the parties can negotiate a “fair” split and agree to it prior to the final hearing, the process will be quicker and easier, keeping legal fees to a minimum.
Being willing to compromise may be difficult in an emotionally charged situation. However, if you can’t agree on specific terms, the court may order a division of property and debt that neither party will like. Once again, prolonged bickering over terms will increase legal fees and delay the final decree.
Finally, being properly prepared will help your attorney save you time and money. The court will require full financial disclosure by both parties. By having your own documentation and being aware of your spouse’s finances, you can spot errors and omissions and help your attorney negotiate the most favorable settlement terms. Don’t underestimate the value of vintage heirlooms and collectibles. You may not want half of your spouse’s baseball card collection, but you may be entitled to half its value.
Consulting an attorney can protect your rights and make sure the settlement terms you agree is what you are entitled to under the law. For a free initial consultation with a knowledgeable San Diego divorce attorney, contact us online or call us at 858-312-8500.