The economic cost of a divorce is often directly tied to how long it takes to be resolved. Therefore, if the parties can resolve their matter quickly, the divorce should necessarily be less expensive. What are some ways in which parties can resolve their matter quickly?
1. By reaching agreements on as many issues as possible. Issues to be resolved in most divorce cases include children’s issues (parental responsibility and timesharing), equitable distribution (the distribution of marital assets and debts), alimony, and child support. Agreements can be reached in any number of ways, whether through informal or formal means. Some informal means include direct discussions between the parties or discussions between the parties with the aid of a member of their religious community, a mental health professional or a financial professional. The most common formal approach to reaching a resolution is attendance at mediation. Other more formal approaches include settlement conferences between the parties and their attorneys or exchange of written settlement proposals prepared by the parties’ attorneys
2. By being organized. When getting divorced, the parties are required to exchange certain minimum financial documentation called Mandatory Disclosure.
Once my client has collected this documentation and delivers it to my office, it is inventoried, reviewed for completeness and sent to the opposing attorney’s office. In providing my client with a checklist of those documents to be exchanged, I recommend they return the checklist to me with the documents directly behind it in the order in which they are listed. To the extent my clients can provide the records in this fashion, the time spent in inventorying and reviewing them for completeness will necessarily be less, thereby saving fees and costs.
3. By being forthcoming when information is requested. Often, divorce cases are drawn out because one side or the other is not providing documents requested of them – sometimes the documents are not provided in a timely fashion and sometimes they are not provided at all, even though they are known to exist. As a result, the party seeking the records must look elsewhere for the documents, e.g., to a bank, a credit card company, an employer, etc., and often must ask the court to intervene. Seeking the documents from a third-party has associated costs, e.g., the cost of a process server to serve a subpoena on a bank and the cost of photocopies to be paid to the bank. The expenses associated with seeking the court’s intervention typically include preparation of the appropriate motion seeking the outstanding records and attendance at a hearing before the judge.