Lower Cost Alternatives for Divorce

by McConnell Family Law

low cost alternatives for divorce

Divorce can be a financially draining process–particularly when a divorce is complex or contentious, and full-service legal representation is needed. For some divorces, however, the circumstances may not necessitate full-service legal representation. For example, the parties may have an agreement on all issues, or a party prefers to represent themselves with only minor assistance. This article discusses the lower-cost alternatives for legal representation offered by McConnell Family Law Group. By exploring these options, couples can find solutions that align with their financial capabilities while ensuring a fair and amicable resolution. 
In this blog, we are highlighting our New Haven office, which is one of five convenient locations. If you find yourself considering lower-cost alternatives for divorce, our skilled New Haven divorce lawyers are here to guide you through the process. At McConnell Family Law Group, our lawyers can offer cost-effective and compassionate legal guidance for those undergoing the divorce process. Contact us at (203) 344-7762 to explore affordable divorce solutions with our compassionate and skilled legal team.

Flat Fee Divorce

Does the following sound like your situation? Both you and your spouse have mutually made the difficult decision to end your marriage and are confident you can come to an amicable settlement agreement on your own, without the assistance of individual counsel. You either have no children, or your children are fully grown adults living independently. You both have a solid understanding of the assets and debts you each own separately and jointly, and you feel they are not overly complicated. Together you are able to come to an agreement on how your individual assets and debts will be divided. You discuss the issue of spousal support and can either: a) come to an agreement regarding how much alimony will be paid and for how long; or b) agree to mutually waive your rights to alimony. If the above describes your situation, and you and your spouse have agreed on all important issues, are you confused about what comes next?

The Connecticut Judicial Branch website can offer some help. If you are intent on representing yourselves in the divorce, the website’s “Divorce Navigator” can walk you through your various divorce options and provide links to all the documents you will need to complete and submit to the court. Nevertheless, you may still find the divorce process confusing and feel overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork you are required to complete.  If that is the case, you will want a trusted legal advisor who can guide you through the divorce process and assist with the completion of all necessary paperwork.

You and your spouse may be concerned with the cost of retaining legal counsel to assist with what you consider to be a fairly simple divorce. After all, divorce in Connecticut is not cheap.  Attorney’s fees for most divorce cases cannot be estimated with any reasonable certainty because of the different issues involved, and therefore, are billed on an hourly basis. However, in certain uncontested divorce cases with facts similar to those presented above, a flat fee may be available. The McConnell Family Law Group now offers a flat fee for divorce cases where the parties have no minor children and have an agreement on all important issues.

If your case meets the requirements, we will represent you and your spouse from the start of your case to the conclusion of your divorce for a one-time, flat fee. Our flat fee representation includes preparation and assistance in filing all necessary pleadings and documents; limited discovery; assistance with your Financial Affidavit; and the drafting of your Settlement Agreement. We will not be filing an Appearance, so the flat fee does not cover any court appearances or litigation, which, if required, will be billed at hourly rates.

Cost of Flat Fee Divorce

All potential cases begin with an Initial Consultation. The Initial Consultation fee of $225 is in addition to the flat fee. The Initial Consultation is critical for our firm’s attorney to determine whether we will accept the case as a flat fee and to quote the appropriate price depending on the scope of work that is required. At the conclusion of the Initial Consultation, our attorney will tell you whether we can accept your matter as a flat fee, and you will be informed of what the price will be. Our flat fee pricing ranges from as low as $5,000 to $7,500.  The price depends on several factors including, but not limited to, whether: there is a marital home, retirement savings, a complex division of assets and/or debts, etc. The fee also includes the mandatory court filing fee of $360.

For cases that do not qualify for our flat fee service, we offer mediation, consulting services, and/or limited appearances for self-represented clients. These services are discussed more fully below.

Mediation

Mediation is the most common low-cost methodology for divorce. If you have minor children in the marriage, or if we decide at your consultation that a flat fee is not appropriate, then we will discuss mediation as a potential option. Our goal is to have satisfied clients, and the best way to ensure that is by setting them on the best pathway to achieve the desired end result. You may find more information regarding divorce mediation here and here.

Consulting Services for Self-Represented Clients

MFLG also offers a “consulting service” for clients who are particularly cost-conscious or cannot afford to hire a full-time attorney dedicated to their cause. With this option, we will not file a full Appearance in your case but will advise you on the best approaches; help you draft the appropriate legal pleadings (i.e., ghostwrite); assist you with filings; complete Financial Affidavits and Child Support Guideline calculations; and assist you in preparing for in-court testimony, as well as provide you with other tips to make self-representation more effective and less stressful. Legal fees are based on the specific attorney’s hourly rate but with a lower retainer requirement. Under this option, you can decide how much or how little assistance you would like from us. The consulting option saves clients a significant amount in legal fees, but it of course, comes with more risk, which is discussed during the initial consultation. 

Limited Appearances

Over the last few years, the Courts have allowed attorneys to file limited appearances in family cases to represent clients for only a specific aspect of their case. Under this option, the client would file a “self-representation” appearance form (we will assist in preparation and filing), and MFLG will file a “limited scope” appearance form, stating our specific, limited role in the case, which can be amended from time to time by agreement. When that issue is resolved, our Appearance is withdrawn, while the client’s Appearance remains. This option is most often used by clients for in-court representation for Pendente Lite (pretrial) hearings; advocacy and representation at Special Masters pretrial hearings; advocacy and representation at Judicial pretrial hearings; advocacy and representation at mediations or arbitrations; advocacy and representation at trials; and advocacy and representation at post-trial hearings (not including any appeal).

In addition to these options, McConnell Family Law Group is committed to keeping costs low while still giving our clients the best representation possible.  We understand how difficult times like these can be for our clients and are dedicated to assisting you to find peace through strength. To schedule an appointment, contact us today at (203) 344-7762.

Service Option Description
Mediation A common and cost-effective divorce method, especially suitable when minor children are involved. Discussed as an option to consider during consultation.
Consulting Services for Self-Represented Clients MFLG offers consulting services for budget-conscious clients or those who prefer self-representation. Services include legal advice, document drafting, and guidance for court-related matters. Legal fees are based on the attorney’s hourly rate with a lower retainer requirement.
Limited Appearances Attorneys can file limited appearances in family cases, representing clients for specific aspects of their case. This option is used for various stages of divorce proceedings, allowing clients to tailor their legal representation based on their needs and budget.

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