What are the costs of a divorce and how do I go about dividing property? 23 Answers as of August 24, 2011

I am currently in the process of filing a divorce against my husband of almost 17 years, and we have three children. I have never had a job and therefore have no income because my husband never allowed me to work, so I was wondering how I could handle all divorce costs and if there was any aid available to me? Also, during our marriage, my husband and my sister bought the house we currently live in. They both gifted the house to me and therefore the house is also currently my name, so I was wondering if my husband would be able to make any claims on the house.

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Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
The court will make a fair and equitable division of your assets and liabilities. The Court can also award attorneys' fees based on one spouse's need for attorneys' fees and the other spouse's ability to pay.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/24/2011
Neville J. Bedford Attorney at Law
Neville J. Bedford Attorney at Law | Neville J. Bedford
Dividing assets and developing co-parenting plans can be simple - in instances when the parties have agreed to make reasonable agreements by themselves - and hence, less costly. . . or alternatively, extremely expensive - where both or either parties refuse to make a sensible separation and division of assets and parenting time. The costs may run from a couple of thousand dollars to many thousands depending on the posture of the divorcing parties. If you are filing and have not negotiated your division nor settlement, nor custody arrangements, and your spouse retains an attorney, you will likely have a difficult an expensive scenario compounded by a lack of familiarity with the court's process, procedure, and requirements.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 8/9/2011
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
There are no simple answers to your questions and any answers require a more thorough understanding of all the facts and circumstances. Generally, all marital property is to be equitably (i.e. fairly) divided; if you and your husband cannot agree, a judge will need to decide what is fair. All property owned at the time of divorce is presumed to be marital until proven otherwise. The name on title to property is not controlling, but if there is no factual dispute over the reasons the house was transferred into your name, it could be considered a gift and, therefore, your separate property. The overall costs of a divorce are directly influenced by the amount of conflict or disagreement on the terms, including parenting issues, and cannot be reasonable estimated until there is a much more complete picture of the circumstances and type of disputes expected. Legal fees and costs can be paid from marital assets or in some circumstances your husband could be required to pay some or all of your legal expenses. You need to consult an attorney to discuss the options and realistic expectations with a better understanding of all the relevant facts.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 8/8/2011
Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
The cost of a divorce varies widely. If you are able to do it yourself, then, there might be no costs other than the filing fee and cost of service. Probably on a few hundred dollars. Also, depending upon how indigent you are, you may be able to get the court to waive some or all of the filing fee. If you have to hire an attorney to help you, the cost still varies widely. If all of the issues in the divorce are totally agreed, then, you are probably talking about $1,000 - $1,500 plus the filing fee. If not all of the issues are agreed, then, the cost will just depend on how much the parties want to fight over the various issues. In such a case, it is not at all hard to spend ten or twenty or even thirty thousand dollars. Now, some background on property division in a divorce. If the two of you can agree on how to divide the property, then, the two of you can divide it just about any way you want. However, if the two of you are unable to agree, then, it will be up to the court to divide the property and debts. If the court is going to divide the property, it first has to classify it. All of the property is going to be classified as your separate property, her separate property, or community property. Which of these classifications a particular piece of property falls into will depend on how and when the property was obtained. In most cases, property obtained during the marriage will be community property. Once the property is classified, how it gets divided will depend on a number of factors. Some of the factors that the court may consider are: the duration of the marriage, the ages of the parties, the health of the parties, the educational background of the parties, the employment history of the parties, and each party's future prospects. The court then has to come up with what the court believes is a fair and equitable division of all of the property using these and other factors. The point is, all of the property is on the table, and it is pretty much impossible to predict how it will go, without a much more detailed understanding of your situation. There are other issues as well. These include: whether there will be any maintenance, now much and for how long; what will the child support, if any, be; and what will the parenting plan, if any, look like in your case. These issues generally require a great deal if information to address.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/8/2011
Law Office of James Lentz
Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
The court may as a part of your support, compel your husband to pay your costs of litigation. The Legal Aid Society may also provide help without charge. The house will be a marital asset, and you may be required to share it in the final settlement. Please contact a domestic relations attorney near you for further information.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 8/8/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    You can use funds from marital accounts to pay attorneys fees or use a credit card; you can ask that your husband reimburse you for these costs. You can make an equitable claim to the house and all other assets such as retirement
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/8/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    If you can afford to pay the filing fee an affidavit of hardship form is available in the Clerk's Office in the county in which you reside. A judge would make the determination of whether or not you qualify for a waiver of the attorney's fees. As to the house, that is a determination which would be made by a judge unless there is an agreement between you and your spouse.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/8/2011
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
    You can apply for a fee waiver to get the costs waived. Otherwise, it will be around $350 in costs. Also, if you have access to money or are willing to have a lien placed on the property to protect an attorney, this can also be done so that you can have representation and not have to put up a lot of money. please feel free to call me if you need help.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/7/2011
    ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
    The cost of an attorney for your divorce is a community (marital) obligation, and may be paid from marital assets, provided there are any. There is a Louisiana statute that will allow a court to immediately allocate liquid (cash, investment accounts, savings accounts) between the parties in order that they may be on an equal legal footing. You may still have to come up with a retainer in order to obtain good legal counsel, but you can be repaid from community funds. Many firms will take credit cards for you to get started. If both you and your husband are indigent, you may be able to obtain help from your local bar association or Legal Services Corporation grantee (your local "legal aid" office.) With regard to your home, an attorney would have to look at the transactions between you, your husband and your sister, as well as whether or not your husband paid any mortgage notes on the home, to be able to tell whether or not he would have any claims.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/7/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    Unfortunately there is no aid in the form of free attorney services, however your local courts may still have court facilitators ( assuming their budget cuts have not yet eliminated them). The facilitator can assist on paperwork required to commence your divorce. You should be filing a petition for divorce along with a motion for child support, child custody, spousal support and attorney fees.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/7/2011
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
    You need to meet with an experienced family law lawyer now. Your lawyer will file divorce papers and serve your husband with an order to show cause hearing notice. He will ask the court to make an order that your husband immediately pay you child support and spousal support and ask that your husband reimburse you for legal fees.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/6/2011
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    Divorce with children and property often depends on the amount of assets involved and other issues of custody. If you have limited means I would look for an attorney that charges a flat fee and will take payments. With the length of your marriage and not being allowed to work you should be able to get alimony as well as child support. The court looks at several factors in determining alimony such as length of the marriage, the wife's ability to acquire employment, the need for employment training, her health, etc. Child support is determined by the non-custodial parent's income. If the home was deeded to you as a gift it should be treated as separate property but the court might look at it as a form or marital settlement depending on the equity in the home.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 8/6/2011
    Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C.
    Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C. | Paul A. Eads
    Call a lawyer to discuss these issues. Cases like this should be handled by an expert.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/6/2011
    Bagwell Holt Smith Jones & Crowson, P.A.
    Bagwell Holt Smith Jones & Crowson, P.A. | John G. Miskey IV
    You should speak with an attorney to discuss your claims for post-separation support, alimony, custody, child support, equitable distribution and attorney's fees. Don't do this alone.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 8/6/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    You need a lawyer. Hopefully you have family or friends to help with that. From what you say, the house likely can be divided. What happens with the children as to custody and support may impact that decision. In some parts of the state, Atlanta Legal Aid or Georgia Legal Services might assist with the cost of counsel or find someone to work pro bono.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/6/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    You need legal assistance.This is beyond what a lay person can handle. A good attorney can get you money for your attorney and a fair division of all assets plus child support and maintenance if appropriate.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/6/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    I'd strongly suggest that you call a local family law lawyer to help you understand the divorce process, including costs and how to divide assets/debts. As for attorney fees, go to Google and look up Family Code Section 2030, and 2032. Please note that there is no simple one or two line answer regarding the overall process of divorce. Additionally, the process can be different depending on the facts involved in a couple's case, as well as whether the parties can reach agreements on their own (or with the help of a mediator), or need court assistance.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/6/2011
    Linda C. Garrett Law
    Linda C. Garrett Law | Linda Garrett
    You questions are very complex. Why? First, you have a long-term marriage; second, sounds like you need spousal support-and if you husband will not voluntarily pay you support, then you need to fight about it in court; third, you have 17 years of accumulated assets, debts (and retirement?) to divide; fourth, you have to deal with a possible challenge to the house you are now living in. In sum, there is NO way I or any attorney can tell you how much your divorce will cost. As I tell clients during my consults, divorces are like weddings-only you and your husband have control of the final outcome of the case-based on the factors in your case. For instance, the cost of a wedding depends on: 1) time of year; 2) venue; 3) menu; 4) size of wedding party; 5) type of wedding dress, etc., etc.,etc. Bottom line: there are too many factors, outside an attorney's control, affecting the final cost on a divorce. Some options are: 1. Do the divorce yourself and purchase a book. Here's are some links to some excellent books: How to Do Your Own Divorce in California-2010 http://www.nolo.com/products/how-to-do-your-own-divorce-in-california-CDIV.h tml?kbid=3548 Divorce Bundle-Nolo's Essential Guide to Divorce, Divorce Without Court, A Judge's Guide to Divorce: http://www.nolo.com/products/nolos-divorce-bundle-NODVBUN.html?kbid=3548 Nolo's Essential Guide to Divorce: $21.99 http://www.nolo.com/products/nolos-essential-guide-to-divorce-NODV.html?kbid =3548 Divorce & Money: http://www.nolo.com/products/divorce-&-money-DIMO.html?kbid=3548 Building a Parenting Agreement That Works http://www.nolo.com/products/building-a-parenting-agreement-that-works-CUST. html?kbid=3548 Always Dad-Being a Great Father During and After Divorce http://www.nolo.com/products/always-dad-DIFA.html?kbid=3548 Divorce Without Court-A Guide to Mediation and Collaborative Divorce http://www.nolo.com/products/divorce-without-court-DWCT.html?kbid=3548 Divorce After 50 (March 2010) http://www.nolo.com/products/divorce-after-50-DIVL.html?kbid=3548 2. Hire an attorney to coach you through the divorce process. This is known as "limited scope" representation because you always represent yourself-not the attorney; 3. Hire an attorney to prepare forms only. 4. As you can see, there are options available in the event you don't have the funds to hire an attorney. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/6/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    You can try Legal Aid and also ask your county Bar Association if there is a Legal Aid-type organization serving your county. In regard to the house, whether the transfer of the house was a gift or not is a very fact sensitive issue; you need to discuss the details of that issue with an experienced family law attorney in order to determine how that issue might play out, as whether property is marital or not does not depend on whose name is on the deed; there are certain laws regarding gifts and a family law attorney will know the questions to ask you I order to advise you on that issue.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/5/2011
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