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5 Reasons Why you Might Want to Reconsider Filing your Own Divorce

As you know, you have every right to represent yourself in any court of law, including Family Court, where divorces are typically filed. What some forget or don’t even realize at the outset, however, is that if you choose to represent yourself, the Court expects you to follow the same court rules and procedures that an attorney follows.  In other words, the court expects you to know what you’re doing. The court clerk will not tell you what must be filed and when. You’re on your own.

filing a divorce

Should you handle your own divorce?

It’s a question that plagues many potential pro se (filing a legal matter on one’s own behalf) divorce litigants – should I file my own divorce? It sounds enticing and sounds like you could save money. After all, divorce forms can be obtained from the court and the Internet has many offers from typing services who type up divorce documents for a fee. And they make it sound easy.

As you contemplate handling your own divorce, keep the following in mind:

1)     If you are contemplating filing your own divorce, it’s most likely because you think you will save money. In fact, what often occurs instead, is expensive post-divorce litigation and motions which end up costing you more money than if you had retained an attorney in the first place. It is a known fact that because of bad drafting of the language in the final decree of divorce, many people end up coming back to court to fix things.

2)     You might decide to file on your own and then retain an attorney only if you run into problems. This never saves you money. In fact, attorneys typically charge either the same to take over an in-progress case as if handling the case from the beginning, or charge more because it’s often more work to review everything and fix what’s wrong than to do it right from the beginning.

3)     You are only doing your divorce once whereas an experienced attorney has done divorces hundreds of times.  Understanding “legalese” language, anticipating problems and taking care of them before they occur as well as making sure your rights and obligations are safeguarded can better be done by an objective professional than by you caught in the midst of an emotionally-charged situation.

4)     Understanding civil procedure, local rules of the court, and rules of evidence are difficult and the Judges are not allowed to give any slack to people representing themselves.  Also, the law clerks and court clerks are prohibited from giving legal advice which makes it difficult for someone representing themselves, not trained in the law, to process a case from start to finish without encountering obstacles along the way.

5)     You can buy your divorce forms online, however, because those are generally prepared by document-typing companies who don’t keep up with local laws that closely, they are often rejected by the court. Once you finally have the completed documents in hand, there is still the court process to contend with. If the documents were improperly prepared, the court will reject them and mail them back to you. You could be going along thinking that all is fine and weeks later get a fat envelope from the court containing all of your rejected documents. And you have to start all over. Sure, the company will fix the documents if they are rejected, but you are the one who has to handle all the logistics of that and the one who has to return to court to file them again, the one who has to wait again to see if the new documents will be accepted or rejected.

Do you have the kind of time and patience to deal with the above when filing your own divorce? Are you able to take the time off work to deal with it properly?  If you answered “no,” to even just one of these questions, you really need to re-consider whether filing on your own is the right solution for you.

  • How much time do you estimate filing your own divorce will take you?
  • How much do you make per hour now?

If you have never filed a divorce before, have never dealt with Family Court and know nothing about it, it is estimated that you will spend  approximately 40 hours handling the entire process, provided there are no errors made and you only need to go to the courthouse once to file your documents. If you have to go back to court because of errors in the final Decree of Divorce, there is no telling how much more time you will have to spend on fixing these errors.

Only you can answer the question “is it worth filing my divorce on my own?”

If you have questions about obtaining a Nevada divorce you can contact us.

 

 

   

Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about

9 Key Questions to Ask When Hiring A Nevada Divorce Attorney

There is no substitute for experience when it comes to your Nevada divorce attorney. However, retaining an attorney is a very personal thing. This individual could questions_asking_divorce_attorneyend up knowing the most private things about you, so you want someone with lots of integrity and experience, but also with other attributes.  Ask the attorney or the attorney’s staff the following questions:

1. How many cases of my type has the attorney handled?
You want an attorney who has represented clients in many cases exactly like, or very similar to, your own. In other words, you don’t really want your attorney to be learning as he or she handles your case. If you are paying by the hour, for one, it would end up cost you more, and for another, a non-experienced Nevada divorce attorney could miss things that a more experienced one will spot.

2. How well does your attorney and the attorney’s staff communicate with you?
A good Nevada divorce lawyer knows how to communicate.  Does the attorney and his staff write well? Are you easily able to understand what they say in emails or other written communication with you? Chances are that this same style will be used in documents filed with the Nevada Divorce Court so pay attention to this.

3. Are you comfortable in your dealings with the attorney and his or her staff?
A good Nevada divorce attorney for you is one with whom you are comfortable. Does the attorney or the attorney’s staff, make you feel ill at ease? Do you feel like you’re not much of a priority when you interact with them? With the next chapter of your life at stake, you don’t have time to deal with additional emotional clutter brought on by feelings of lack of trust or insecurity when you deal with the attorney and the legal staff.

4. Can you ask and get a flat fee if your case is uncontested?
Some lawyers will charge a flat fee, based on certain tasks and court filings typically expected for an uncontested divorce. You should ask for this if your spouse is not contesting your divorce. If you have a contested matter, ask how much the retainer is, but also ask if there is a difference between the hourly fee charged against the retainer when the attorney is working on your case outside court,  and when the attorney is in court on your behalf. Ask for an estimated fee for the whole case, based on similar previous cases. Are there any refunds ever? Is there a payment plan available? How are payments broken down?

5. Does the attorney have personal experience with the family law arena?
Has the attorney been married and, or, divorced?  Does the attorney have children?  Lawyers are human beings too, breathing and bleeding like everyone else.  A divorce lawyer with personal experience in the family law arena is likely to have more empathy for you than an attorney who has never experienced a divorce.

6. Should you retain a male or female lawyer?
A man or a woman lawyer does not make a difference.  A good lawyer can represent either gender.  Men’s attorneys or women’s attorneys tend to use this as a marketing gimmick more than actually doing a more effective job for their male or female clients. Ask whether the  attorney is comfortable representing a man (or woman)?  Ask if he or she can refer you to a good lawyer who is a man (woman)?

7. In a contested divorce, you should ask if the attorney is friends with your spouse’s attorney.
This isn’t supposed to matter, but you will most likely feel more comfortable knowing that your attorney and your spouse’s attorney don’t hang out together socially. In all likelihood, it wouldn’t affect your case, as attorneys are bound to represent you to the best of their ability and besides, the competitive instinct is sure to kick in when faced with an attorney friend in the courtroom, however, you might always wonder if the friendship had something to do with it if things don’t go your way completely.  Yet one more additional thing you do not need on your emotional plate during your divorce.

 8. Can your Nevada divorce attorney ethically represent both you and your spouse?
An attorney can represent both parties in a joint petition divorce. Should something happen along the way and one or the other of you decide to no longer pursue a joint petition divorce, the attorney cannot ethically continue to represent either of you in a one-signature divorce if he or she has had direct contact with both spouses. If the attorney and the staff have only been in contact with you alone, then in certain cases, this same attorney can continue to represent you only in a one-signature divorce.

9. How aggressive is the attorney?
A skilled Nevada divorce attorney, one who knows how to negotiate and mediate is often better than an aggressive trial lawyer. So, ask the attorney if he or she tries the negotiation route before aggressively attacking the other side, which only makes them want to become much more aggressive in return. Also, when you mediate, you come out of the divorce feeling less acrimonious towards your spouse and usually with more money left in your pocket.

All in all, just ask as many questions as come to mind and do follow your instincts. Don’t hire an attorney who makes you feel uncomfortable just because you heard that he or she is a really good attorney. You want experience and talent, yes, but if you feel uncomfortable sharing your situation with the attorney, it will make an unpleasant situation (getting a divorce) worse; at the least, you should feel better having the attorney you retain on your side.

Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about_nevada_divorce.htm

Getting a Divorce? Why a Divorce in Vegas Could Be Your Best and Easiest Option

wall and opened to sky door on a white backgroundYou’ll find about as many myths about obtaining a divorce in Vegas as you’ll find about the famous people who divorced in Vegas. Still, it’s not a myth that, once you get past establishing residency in Nevada (we’ll discuss that here too), it actually DOES happen to be one of the best and easiest options for filing a divorce in the U.S.

You see, once you become a resident, a divorce in Vegas takes just WEEKS to finalize, usually one to two weeks, rarely more than three, when both you and your spouse sign the divorce documents.

Compare this to California, for instance, where it takes a minimum of six months after filing a divorce to get a final Decree of Divorce: even when both parties sign! Or North Carolina, where it takes a minimum of three months after filing the divorce to get a final decree but only after the parties have been separated for a minimum of one year, another requirement in that state. You’re now talking a minimum of 15 months to get a simple divorce!

Most states require parties to live in the state for a minimum of six months to be considered a resident of that state, adding to the length of the divorce if the parties who wish to file the divorce have only recently moved to that state. Not Nevada where it only takes six weeks of living in the state to be considered a resident.
Comparatively speaking then, a divorce in Vegas takes no time at all, even taking into consideration having to establish residency if you don’t already live in Vegas (or somewhere else in Nevada).

Another factor that simplifies a divorce in Vegas is the fact that Nevada is a no-fault state for divorce, meaning that incompatibility is accepted as a valid reason for filing a divorce in Nevada, which allows a couple to divorce without being forced to wash their dirty laundry publicly, so to speak. Speaking of which, some Nevada family court judges do agree that divorce files can be sealed, another plus, since divorce filings are considered public records. Many states do not allow this at all.

Also, when both parties agree to all the terms of the divorce and both are willing to sign, a Joint Petition for Divorce can be filed, another factor that makes a divorce in Vegas faster and less expensive.

Once a final Decree of Divorce has been issued, either party is free to re-marry as early as the next day! Unlike many other states, there is NO waiting period in Nevada, another factor that attracts divorce candidates to file a divorce in Vegas.

So, with the really short residency requirement period, the no-fault divorce, the Joint Petition, and the really quick-to-obtain final decree, no wonder folks looking for a simple, amicable parting of the ways flock to Vegas (or Reno) to divorce.

If only one party signs the divorce documents because the other party just refuses to sign (but will not contest), your uncontested divorce in Vegas will take anywhere from six weeks to 24 weeks, depending on where in the world the Defendant lives and how easy or difficult it is to serve the Defendant with the divorce documents. This is still a much shorter period than in most other states.

Be sure to properly establish residency if you’re going to file a divorce in Vegas. Normally, if both parties sign, the court does not question properly done divorce documents. Neither does the court normally question your residency so long as you file a Resident Witness Affidavit along with your divorce documents.

The Resident Witness Affidavit is how you prove your residency for a divorce in Vegas. You’ll need to find another Nevada resident to sign the affidavit in front of a Nevada notary. This individual can be a neighbor, friend, relative, or even your landlord who knows you to have lived in Nevada for a minimum of six weeks before filing your divorce.

Lastly, note that the ease of getting a divorce in Vegas has attracted some unsavory operators hoping to make money from those desperate for that quick divorce. So, if you’re going to divorce in Vegas, be sure you deal with a reputable Nevada attorney, one you can look up with the State Bar of Nevada and with the Better Business Bureau. There have been incidents of clients dealing with typing services and so-called paralegal services, and even attorneys, a shame to say, who took clients’ money and never bothered to file their cases. So, first, be sure you are dealing with a real attorney and not just a paralegal or typing service “supervised by attorney” and be sure to check out your attorney’s credentials.

We do our best to make getting a divorce in Nevada as easy and quick as possible. You’ll have a well-respected lawyer representing you.

8 Tips & Tricks to get a Quicker Nevada Divorce

8 Tips & Tricks to get a Quick and Easy Nevada Divorce

As you most likely know by now, there are many myths circulating around on how quick and easy a Nevada divorce can be obtained, and oftentimes, people get confused as to what’s true and what’s not. Some people firmly believe that a Nevada divorce can be granted in a day or two. Some people think it’s impossible to obtain one that quickly. Both theories are somewhat correct. And it often depends on the manner in which the Nevada divorce is filed.

We hope to clarify things for you here, and offer some tips and tricks on obtaining a Nevada divorce, one without complications now, or after it’s been granted.

We’re talking about real ways to do this, not fantasies and ads on websites that promise you a Nevada divorce in a day. Unfortunately, it’s no longer that quick to obtain a Nevada divorce. Between the population of Nevada having grown considerably in the past 20 years, and many people moving here just to obtain a divorce, Nevada Family Court has become overwhelmed in most counties.

That said, it’s often much quicker to obtain a divorce here compared to the majority of other states.

 

#1 – Find a Highly Experienced Nevada Divorce Attorney:

Find an attorney with a good, long-standing reputation  who specializes in representing people in their divorce. Nothing beats a lawyer with lots of experience in filing divorces when it comes to saving time. Some divorce lawyers have begun to offer unbundled services which lowers the cost to the client considerably while maintaining high-quality service.

 

#2 – Get your Spouse to Agree to Sign:

Do what you can to get your spouse to agree to sign the divorce papers. This ALWAYS speeds things up. In some cases, a joint petition divorce (both parties must sign), especially when there are no children and no property or debts involved. Even nowadays, these are sometimes granted in as little as two or three days after filing. This is NOT the norm, mind you, however, it does occur, so we can say it’s possible. Just don’t count on it. Generally, if both spouses sign the divorce papers we get final Nevada divorce decrees back from the court in anywhere from a few days to two weeks. It sometimes takes up to three weeks if the court is really busy, or your judge is particularly busy at the time your case was assigned to him or her.

Remember that you are undergoing a legal process, ending a legal relationship. Allow the process the time it needs for it to be done correctly. It’s best for your divorce case to take a few days more and have it done correctly than have to fix it again later because it was done in a rush and botched. To have to go back and fix a botched divorce later costs more and takes more time than taking a few more days to do it right the first time around. A few days to a couple of weeks is still a lot less time than it takes to obtain a divorce in most other states (for instance, in California, even with both parties signing, it takes six months to finalize a divorce!!), so we can still safely say that a Nevada divorce is a quick and easy divorce even if it takes two weeks.

 

#3 – Agree on Issues of Property and Debt Division Beforehand:

If you do have children and property and, or, debts to divide, come to terms on the issues before you begin the divorce process. It will save you a lot of time. If you cannot come to terms on your own, consider divorce mediation with a reputable divorce lawyer with the proper credentials to mediate a divorce. This will not only save you a lot of time compared to filing a contested divorce. Not only will you save time, but you’ll save a lot of money.

 

#4 – Take the Online Parenting Class if you’re in Clark County:

If you have children and you live in Clark County, Nevada, take the required parenting class before your case is filed. It can now be taken online which saves you both time and money (it’s less expensive to take it online, with no travel time to class). We see ads online that say “no parenting class if you file with us.” Those businesses (they’re typing services, not lawyers) file cases in counties other than Clark, and what’s more, they’re often filed in counties that aren’t online so you can’t even verify the filing of your divorce with the county.

Another reason to insist your case be filed in Clark County if this is where you live, even if you consider it a pain to take the parenting class, is that, child support is to be reviewed every three years. If your case is filed in some remote county up north, that’s where you’ll have to go to court to get it adjusted. Any issues with visitation, child support, or anything else having to do with your children, or any issues with property or debt division.will have to be addressed in front of that court hundreds of miles away.

You will have saved a few dollars on the parenting class by filing the divorce up north, but you’ll spend hundreds traveling back and forth to the remote court.

 

#5 – Have all your Information Ready Before Starting the Process:

Give all the information your Nevada divorce attorney asks of you as soon as possible after you’ve retained him or her. Your divorce papers can’t be created without certain vital information and your divorce attorney can only work as quick as he or she gets the mandatory information required by the court from you to include into your Nevada divorce paperwork.

 

#6 – Sign your Divorce Papers as Soon as your Attorney Tells you they’re Ready:

Your Nevada divorce papers can’t be filed at court without your signature, so until you’ve signed, your divorce attorney can’t file your case. So, once the documents are ready for your signature, make an appointment as soon as possible and go sign the documents at your attorney’s office.

 

 Tip #7 – File at the beginning of the week:

If you’re filing a joint petition divorce, try to sign your divorce papers on a Monday or Tuesday. If you sign them on a Friday, the case might be e-filed from the attorney’s office on that day, or the next day if that office files on Saturdays, however, the court clerk is not likely to email your attorney the filed/stamped copy of the joint petition until the following Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest, and that means five days have already gone by before the decree can be sent to court for the judge to sign it.

Whereas, if your divorce case is e-filed earlier in the week, it’s possible get the filed/stamped copies back within just hours (though this is no guarantee, it could still take a few days depending on how busy the court happens to be when your case is filed). This counts a lot in a divorce timeline because your attorney can’t send the decree to court for the judge’s signature until he or she has a case number. And your divorce attorney won’t get your case number until he or she receives the filed-stamped copy of the joint petition filing from the court.

 

 #8 – If you Must File Bankruptcy, Do it Now Instead of After your Divorce:

Though this is not a tip that will speed up your divorce per se, it will help out greatly if you have a lot of debt accumulated during the marriage and plan on filing a bankruptcy in the future. Consider filing a joint bankruptcy before you file your Nevada divorce. This will save you time and money in that you can share the cost of the bankruptcy with your spouse instead of paying for the whole thing yourself after your Nevada divorce. There are exceptions to this strategy, of course, and it’s best to discuss it with your divorce attorney, but generally speaking, this is a good strategy.

 

8 Key Questions to Ask your Divorce Attorney

Hiring a divorce lawyer is the same as hiring any other professional. You’ll want to get references from others if possible, and you should check the attorney’s credentials with the Nevada State Bar to be sure he or she is currently licensed and whether there are complaints filed against him or her. Also, check the attorney’s listing with the Better Business Bureau and if complaints were filed whether they were resolved satisfactorily. Also, you should ask the attorney or his case intake paralegal some questions about the legal experience of the attorney. Here are the most important ones to ask:
1. How many divorce cases of this type as this divorce attorney filed on behalf of clients?
The more of your type of divorce case the attorney has done, and the more recent the cases, the better job he or she will do with your divorce case. Divorce laws change on occasion so you want your attorney to be up on the latest changes in the law and to have recently been in front of the court on similar matters.

2. Has your attorney ever been divorced? Does he have children?
This actually makes a difference. A divorce attorney who has never felt the pain of going through the process of divorce may not empathize with your situation. A divorce attorney with personal divorce experience will understand the emotions you go through and will be more patient with you than a divorce lawyer who has just enjoyed the single life. After all, divorce attorneys are human beings too, breathing and bleeding like everyone else, and as we all know, nothing makes us more aware of the emotions that go along with life experiences than actually living through them.

3. What will be my estimated total fee?
Though an attorney is not always able to give you an exact total, he or she should be able to get fairly close barring any unforeseen circumstances, such as your spouse contesting the divorce and demanding much more than is reasonable (or if you kept things to yourself that you should have disclosed to your divorce lawyer which broadside him or her, a no-no!). The best thing, of course, is to retain an attorney with a flat fee for uncontested matters, and check that this same attorney charges reasonable fees in the event your uncontested divorce becomes contested. There are now many unbundled law firms that charge by the task which also lowers overall costs for you.

4. Will you keep me informed with what’s going on with my divorce?
Be sure that your attorney’s office has a person on staff whose job it will be to follow your divorce case from start to finish. And be sure that this individual has a system in place to keep you updated as your case moves through the court system.
In other words, this person would know firsthand by looking at your file what’s been done on your divorce case because he or she will have performed the task himself of herself. In some law firms, the really large ones, the tasks of case management are divided between multiple individuals, which means you are dealing with different people all the time depending on the stage of your divorce process.The most you should stand for is for a case intake person to turn you over to a case manager who performs pretty much all tasks on your divorce after it’s been filed at court, rather than your file going from individual to individual who perform different tasks as your divorce case progresses through the court system.When there is more than one person working your divorce file, you end up talking to a different person nearly each time you call for a status check. This might confuse you, or at the least leave you a little insecure as to actual status of your case and you want to feel totally confident that the matter is proceeding as it should at all times. Also, when case management is broken down between different individuals in a divorce law firm, the individual you talk to today might not be familiar with anything that might have become slightly different with your divorce compared to other Nevada divorces. When only one case manager handles the tasks related to your divorce, this individual will remember those things that set your case apart as he or she reads the notes in your file because he or she will have performed all the tasks related to taking your case through the court system.

5. Can you work out a deal with the other attorney?
Perhaps. Find an attorney for whom this is the norm. Some attorneys tend towards mediation and some tend to “shoot first and ask questions later.” You really don’t want the latter kind of divorce lawyer, unless your spouse has already demonstrated that he or she will be totally unreasonable and you feel you need to be overly aggressive. It is NOT recommended to go this route. The only winners are the attorneys.
If the attorney you retain is more in favor of collaborative divorce and is himself or herself a mediator, he or she is a lot more likely to open up a discussion on settlement with your spouse’s attorney if your case becomes contested. This saves you not only time and money, but a lot of emotional stress on you and your children.
A skilled negotiator and mediator is often better in a divorce situation than an aggressive trial lawyer because over 90% of divorce cases settle in order for the Court system to function. As a matter of fact, the very first thing the court orders when a divorce becomes contested is a mandatory Case Management Conference which is essentially divorce mediation. Family Court wants to see everything done that can keep the divorce from going to trial, and wants as many issues as possible resolved before the divorce trial if it becomes unavoidable.

6. How many cases have you taken to trial?
If you are filing a one signature Nevada divorce, even if you don’t anticipate that your divorce will be contested, find out if your divorce attorney has any divorce trial experience. This will avoid you the extra expense of having to retain a new attorney in the event your spouse does decide to contest your Nevada divorce. Some attorneys charge a flat fee for uncontested matters and will credit all, or at least a portion of, those uncontested divorce fees towards your contested divorce.

7. How well does the attorney and staff communicate with you?
A good Nevada divorce lawyer knows how to communicate. Does this divorce attorney and his staff talk to you in plain English or confusing legalese? Does the attorney write well? Does the staff write well? Are you easily able to understand what the attorney and staff communicate to you? Chances are high that the writing style used in general communication with you will find its way into your divorce documents filed with the Nevada Divorce Court.

8. How well does your divorce attorney know the judges in the court where your case will be filed?
This is important. Judges are people too, with personalities and quirks and attitudes and their own set of morals. Sure they have to follow divorce laws, but in a discretionary court such as family courts in Nevada, they do have a lot of discretion in decisions they make. If your divorce lawyer is familiar with the judges, he or she might know that, depending on your particular situation, it might be best to request a different judge right at the outset of your divorce.
Your attorney would make such a decision if he or she happens to know that the judge to whom your case is assigned is particularly conservative with any certain issue that affects you personally. Say that, for instance, you need all the alimony you can get, you know your spouse can afford to pay it, and the judge assigned to your case is known to be less than generous when it comes to granting it; you’d want your attorney to file a Peremptory Challenge to get a new judge assigned to your case in the hopes that the new judge is more understanding and generous when it comes to alimony.
Or you want full physical custody of your children but the judge assigned to your case highly favors joint physical custody and is not really likely to grant you full physical custody. Only an attorney with lots of experience at the court where you case is going to be filed would know your judge well enough to determine these things. In the case of family court in Las Vegas for instance, there are 23 family court judges at the time of this writing. Only an attorney with many years of experience of filing cases in that court would know enough about 23 judges to know how any of them think when it comes to any issue that is of particular concern to your own divorce.

Have any questions for our Nevada divorce attorney?

 

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