Tag Archives: Divorce

Agreed Divorce – Flat fee vs. Forms Pros and Cons

In my previous post in this series we discussed what exactly an agreed or uncontested divorce is.  While I specifically write about Texas issues, I suppose many of these ideas are similar around the country.

This post is written assuming that you are in total agreement with all the issues discussed in Uncontested Divorce – What Is It?

So you have spoken to your spouse and you are ready to get the divorce rolling.  Now what?  You have a few options:

  1. Contact an attorney and pay them a large sum of money to take your case (the standard model);
  2. Contact an attorney and pay them a flat fee to handle your case; or
  3. Buy the forms from a website or a law office that offers this service, and do the divorce yourself.

All of the above will get you divorced.  The question is how much do you want to spend and what level of participation do you want to have?

In the standard divorce model, you retain an attorney by paying them attorney’s fees in advance (the retainer) that they then use to work on your case at an hourly rate.  For instance, they may charge you a $2,000 retainer and bill at $200 per hour.  You have essentially paid them for 10 hours of work.

There are a few problems with this model.  If it is an agreed situation, there is not typically 10 hours worth of work involved.  So how do they earn their money you ask?  By billing for everything, emails, phone calls, time spent thinking about your case as they watch t.v., whatever.  The point is, they will find a way to earn the attorney fees that you have paid and possibly more.  The pro to this model is that the attorney’s office handles all the work for you.  Obviously the con is that it costs you a fortune and only a local attorney will be able to help you.

In the flat fee divorce model, you still get all the help from the attorney’s office to get you divorced, but you pay a single flat fee (typically much lower than a standard retainer)  that covers all correspondence, document prep, etc…  There are no “hidden fees”.  You do not have to do the legwork yourself (as with the forms divorce described below) and you get the comfort of knowing up front how much it will cost you.  There really are no negative aspects to this other than the fact that only a local attorney will be able to represent you.  Oh, and it does not hurt to have a reputable attorney helping you!

In a “forms” divorce you simply purchase divorce forms, print them out and fill them in.  These types of documents are found at office supply stores, or through major online resources that sell legal documents.  Typically there is no assistance with these documents and they are not state specific to comply with the requirements of a given state.  That is a major con.  The other con is that you must represent yourself, meaning you must go to the courthouse and file your own divorce documents, take care of all the correspondence, figure out all the rules of the specific court you are in – generally do all the things that an attorney typically does for you.  You have to know the procedures.

I have seen so many people trying to do their own divorce be simply turned away by the judge stating “your divorce papers are not right, come back when they are”.  No advise on what is wrong with them, just go fix them.

That is why it is always preferable to seek out an attorney that prepares form divorces.  You still have to represent yourself and do all the leg work, but in the event there is a problem, you have someone to turn to for help.  Additionally, you get documents that are created for your state, not some one size fits all document as well as instructions for how to complete your divorce.

And the best part of the forms divorce, is that you do not need to have a local attorney.  Since you are doing the leg work yourself, you simply need the proper state forms.

I hope this helps in clearing up your options in your agreed divorce.   My office provides all the services mentioned above, so contact me if you need help.


Happy New Year! What are we doing about Standard Visitation for January?

Okay, January is here and it is 2013!  What do we have on tap for our weekend and Thursday periods of possession this month?  Let’s see:

Weekend possessions – If your child returned to school yesterday or today (which most did), then the first weekend of the month would have been trumped by the Christmas holiday possession.  Therefore the first weekend possession this month will be January 18th (3rd Friday of the month).  There is no fifth Friday this month, so only one weekend of standard possession this month.  But wait!  There’s more…if your child is released from school for the Martin Luther King holiday, then the provision for extended weekends will apply.  That holiday is the Monday following the standard possession weekend.

In quick review, if MLK day is a holiday for your child and your possession ends at 6:00 p.m. on a typical Sunday, then your possession will now end at 6:00 p.m. on Monday.  This is all assuming that you have that provision in your decree.  Check in the visitation section for the “extended by holiday” section.

As for Thursdays (or Wednesdays under old orders) you will get the 10, 17, 24, and 31 (or 9, 16, 23, or 30).

That’s it for this month.  Post comments if you have questions.

Let’s make 2013 the year of compassion when it comes to visitation.  Let’s try to do at least one nice thing this year when a dispute arises as to visitation.  Can we do that?  One thing this year?  I can hear the response…”but they never do anything nice for me…..”  Then I guess you are a better person than they are.  When you give someone a gift, do you expect that they give you a gift back?  I hope not.

Happy New Year.

Here we go again…..

Sorry, I got behind again on my posts.  As I can see from reviewing my “comments” to my April post, I may need to review the summer “notice” provisions again.  It appears that many of you get confused because one party is learning to “game” the system.  What I mean by that is this:

  • Non custodial parent (ncp) is entitled to thirty days in the summer and must elect their time by April 1 or it will revert to July 1 – July 31st.  Let’s pretend I am the ncp and I send written notice on March 31st via certified mail and first class mail.  First problem is that the custodial parent (cp) does not pick up the certified mail and it just sits.  It does not matter.  I met the notice requirements and they are on notice whether they pick up or not.  To be safe, i may also send via email.
  • Here is where I “game” it.  I pick my first two weeks to be as follows – July 8th until July 20th.  That is the first part of my extended summer possession and accounts for 12 days.  HOWEVER, look at your calendar.  I also get standard weekends in the summer.  That means that I will pick up the child on July 6th at 6:00 p.m. and keep the child until Sunday the 8th at 6:00 p.m.  My next possession is my extended summer possession and begins on Sunday the 8th at 6:00 p.m.  That means I keep the child from the weekend.  My possession then goes until Friday the 20th at 6:00 p.m., but wait, I also get that weekend as it is a third weekend, and it begins on Friday at 6:00 p.m. so I would keep the child until that Sunday at 6:00 p.m. before I returned to cp.

As you can see from that hypothetical, I have only used twelve days of my extended summer possession, but have gotten 16 days out of it.  I can do this all over again one more time if I wanted to.  That is what you call gaming the system.

This post answers a few of the comments I had regarding notice under the standard possession order in Texas.  There were many more and I will try to address them as they come up.

Talk to you soon.