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Archives for February 2014

How to Save Money on Divorce Legal Fees

Protect your moneyOne of the things that concerns people the most about a divorce is the cost of the legal fees involved.   Many people struggle to pay their regular monthly bills.  Adding the costs of a divorce, which could costs tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, could be overwhelming.  There are things you can do to reduce the amount spent on your divorce.

If you and your spouse do not have children and can communicate well enough to agree on property division, it may be possible to do the divorce yourself.  Idaho has forms available for you to use (http://www.courtselfhelp.idaho.gov/individual-forms-instructions).  If you need help there could be a Court Assistance Office near you to assist you in making sure that the document are correctly prepared and you have the correct documents to file with the Court.  Some areas have an “attorney workshop” were you can go and ask an attorney questions about the law.  However, doing your divorce by yourself should only happen if you and your spouse are in full agreement about the things related to divorcing such as who will get certain property, who will remain in the home and who will pay which outstanding bills.  It generally doesn’t work if there are any real disputes or when children are involved.

Money can be saved by trying to mediate your divorce.  Through mediation, a third-party mediator can help you come to an agreement on the issues related to your divorce.  This saves time and money that would normally be spent on attorneys in court arguing the case.  While helpful for the parties to have some form of open communication for divorce mediation, the process is still most often effective even where disputes exist.

When you do use an attorney, divorce expenses can be reduced by the clients doing most of the legwork on gathering evidence, and providing full and complete information as requested by your attorney.  The more time you can do instead of your attorney or the assisting paralegal, the more you will save.

The Difference between Mediation and a Court Proceeding

Court ProceedingMany people outside the legal world are unfamiliar with what mediation is and what it entails.  It is substantially different from traditional litigation (i.e. going to court) and has an entirely different set of rules and procedures.  The main difference is that mediation is driven by the parties in a dispute.  This means that, unlike court proceedings that take place according to the schedule of a judge and the courts, mediation can be done at a time that is most convenient to all parties.  This means that the parties can even mediate before a case is filed.  Because mediation is driven by the parties, the process can change to fit the needs of the parties.

Another difference is that in court proceedings a third party, such as a judge or jury, decides the outcome of your case.  Mediation does use a third party (a mediator), however, that person does not decide what the outcome will be; rather the parties do.  The mediator is there to provide neutral and objective guidance to the parties to help them agree upon a settlement, not to decide the case and what they parties will do.

Mediation is much less formal than court proceedings.  Unlike court where attorneys are present and do the majority of the talking, in mediation the parties are negotiating .While attorneys can be present, it is not necessary, meaning that mediation can happen with the parties alone with the mediator.  Because of its informal nature, mediation can take place at a time that works best for the parties involved.

Unlike court proceedings, mediation is usually less involved.  When a dispute goes to trial, there is often an extensive discovery phase, meaning compiling documents and evidence, and taking depositions.  With mediation, the parties decide what documents are necessary to exchange so both parties are able to make informed decisions.  Mediation is not necessarily a one-time event.  The parties can participate in as many sessions as necessary to exchange documents, obtain appraisals, talk to other people or their attorneys, etc.  Because of the decreased amount of time spent on discovery, mediation can resolve a dispute in a much faster time frame than litigation.  This could result in a real cost savings to the parties.

Mediation is conducted confidentially.  With a Court proceeding, the “dirty laundry” is out in the open for others to see which can cause either party to feel ashamed, angry or defensive.  Mediation focuses on the present and future, not upon past actions.

David A. Johnson has been providing quality legal services in East Idaho. As both a private attorney and as a former Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. Johnson has substantial courtroom experience. Mr. Johnson has handled cases all over the State of Idaho. His primary areas of practice are in Bonneville, Bingham, Butte, Jefferson, Madison, Fremont Bannock and Jefferson Counties. In addition, to Idaho Falls, we serve residences in the Blackfoot, Shelley, Firth, Rigby, Rexburg, St. Anthony, Ashton, Ammon, Driggs and Victor, Idaho. [Read more..]