Tuesday, August 24, 2010


So, it seems to me that the hard economic times are causing more and more couples to get divorced. Even though articles and TV specials are claiming that individuals are staying together because they cannot afford to get a divorce, it seems as though the Recession is having the exact opposite effect.

In fact, based on studies Nobel prize winner Becker conducted back in 1977 and published in the Journal of Political Economy, couples that experience any sudden significant and unexpected change in income — positive or negative — are at risk of divorce.

The fact though remains that divorce is never easy and during an economic downturn it can be ever more difficult. Now when couples are seriously considering divorce, it is more important than ever for them to carefully consider their options and think about their financial situation in its entirety. In the past a couple’s home was their largest asset, but now with the fall of the housing market, the loss of jobs and the steadily growing rate of foreclosures, couples are loosing their once most relied upon investment. Recently I witnessed a couple whose worth at the beginning of the marriage was estimated at 15 Million dollars, split the 1 Million left after all their debts were paid off and losses added up at the conclusion of their divorce.

Alarmingly, even though divorces are on the rise and maneuvering through the process is becoming increasingly harder due to the economic crisis, there are more and more articles and stories coming out about individuals representing themselves during a divorce. I cannot even tell you how many individuals come to me because they represented themselves in a divorce, and now seek assistance unraveling the mess that was made out of their assets and life. Moreover, individuals come to me who attempted to draft uncontested divorce documents and find it impossible to get them signed by the Judge, because they are complicated and one must know the applicable laws to complete them properly. Others come to me because they had a service draft their uncontested divorce documents, those that charge $200 and promise to do a quick job, which messed up and now the client has lots certain assets, or even worse, rights to their children.

Matrimonial and family law is an ever-changing landscape that even lawyers need to brush up on every year. In fact, continuing legal education is mandatory in order for lawyers to maintain their licenses to practice law. The lure for most to represent themselves is a financial one, obviously they don’t have to spend money on an attorney, however, such a choice may prove to be much more expensive in the long run.
There are ways to cut costs in a divorce. One of the biggest cost cutters is removing emotions from the divorce arena. If you and your soon to be ex-spouse agree on as many elements of property division and support as possible then your divorce will be that much smoother. Accept the idea that compromise will likely shorten the process and consider mediation or collaborative law, instead of litigation, as dispute resolution options. However, don’t make the mistake of compromising without knowing your legal rights and having an attorney advise you before you begin mediation or any other non-litigious dispute resolution option, and then review any agreement made afterwards.

You do not want to be one of those sad individuals who end up losing custody of their kids because they were ignorant of the law.

Find a lawyer who is easy to communicate with, who is honest, who won’t just cater to your wants but will be upfront about the realities of the situation and who is willing to work with you to come up with a fee schedule that works for you. That is the best way to ensure you get the most bang for your buck and the best deal with your ex-spouse.

IF you have any questions, comments, etc...as always your thoughts are much appreciated!! I would LOVE to hear from you!

Until Next Time,

Helen M. Dukhan, Esq., LL.M. @ WWW. DukhanLaw.COM

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