When talking to prospective client, the number one question I'm asked is, "How long will this take and how much will it cost?" People want to know how long will they be tied up in the divorce process, and when it's all over what are going to be the financial ramifications. The reason they are generally asking is because they want to know when can they get on with their lives and what financial resources will be left to use. Like so many things were the legal process is concerned, there are no clear answers.
My answer is almost always the same, "it depends on the two of you." What do I mean by that? Well, are the divorcing parties going to behave like they are auditioning to appear on "the Jerry Springer show"? Will they file frivolous/false Domestic Violence Injunctions against each other? Will one parent attempt to prevent the other parent from seeing the children? Will one the spouses wipe out the bank account, leaving the other spouse penniless? If the answer is "yes" to just one or all of the above then we will certainly end up in court. Each and every time we have to go to court, it will generally cost approximately $500 to $800 to draft the pleadings, call the court and get a hearing time, send out the notices of hearing, prep the client for court, attend the hearing and then doing the Order. Going to court is not cheap. Having the Judge make a decision means that parties lose control over their own case. And if you have to do this 3 or 4 times, the initial retainer will be depleted. The more the parties engage in bad behavior the more expensive the case will become. The flip-side of this is, if the parties can get past some of the anger and pain to work on divorcing each other, the less it will cost and the less emotional wear-and-tear will be taken on the divorcing couple.
Then there is the, "how long is this going to take?" And how long it takes is directly related to the number of issues and the reasonableness of the parties. I have had clients that wanted to use the legal process as punishment to the other spouse: these cases take years and cost thousands of dollars. I've had other cases where the parties really wanted a divorce, engaged in a lot of productive "give-and-take" and got divorced in less than a year. Those were the couples that moved on with their lives. Some people use the divorce process to stay connected to their soon-to-be former spouse, even if it's "bad connection." I have found that the opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference. When divorcing couples can reach a type of indifference with each other, they are really ready to move on with their lives. How long the divorce process takes really depends on the divorcing parties.
My job is guide the client through the process making sure that all that client's interests are protected, and hopefully keep them from veering "off course" during this highly emotional process. I often remind the client that it their case and they decisions they make are what they will be left with after the process is all over. I give them my best legal opinion and options regarding the good aspects and bad aspects of their case, but the decision on where to go with the case is really theirs and theirs alone. The law office of Anne E. Raduns, PA offers straightforward representation geared toward achieving results and protecting our client's interests. While this may mean being aggressive in court when necessary, it always means being fair and honest with our clients about the pros and cons of their case.
For an uncontested divorce the time-line is a little more certain and the costs pretty much locked in. In an uncontested divorce all of the legal issues between the parties are all agreed to in writing and then finalized by the court. There is absolutely NO issue that needs court intervention. The time it takes to get to court is usually no more than 45 days from the time that both parties have signed the Marital Settlement Agreement. Once filed, the court makes the divorcing couple wait 20 days to set a final hearing. Only the person filing the Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage need go to the hearing, but the other spouse is always noticed of the Final Hearing and is welcome to attend to appear before the court.