THE SITUATION: Evelyn and Noah married while both were at university. After graduating, each quickly found good jobs in their respective fields so were able to lease a small but nice house in a St. Paul neighborhood and furnish it with a combination of hand-me-downs from their parents and by drawing down a line-of-credit from a bank to buy pieces they still needed. They each needed a car for their work which meant two auto loans, and there was $3,000 owing on their credit cards. They seemed to be a happy, established couple building a solid life together. But by their fourth anniversary, tensions were creeping into the union and a year later, Evelyn came to me wanting a divorce.
THE OPTIONS: I explained to Evelyn the difference between a standard divorce and our Friendly Divorce, suggesting that she and Noah complete our on-line questionnaire to see if they were good candidates for the much simpler, faster and less expensive Friendly Divorce option. Since there were no children, the couple’s debts were limited, they’d yet to acquire any substantial assets, and they remained on reasonably good terms, Evelyn talked with Noah and they agreed it was a good idea to explore the possibility.
THE PROCESS: After completing the questionnaire, the couple came to me together stating they’d agreed to a Friendly Divorce. I explained to Noah that bar association ethics rules prohibit me from representing two sides in any dispute, including a divorce, and since Evelyn came to me first she was my client. I informed them that if they didn’t disagree on any of the remaining open issues, I could draft the court filing. But if their so-far amicable separation collapsed, Noah would have to find his own attorney. He acknowledged that I could only act for Evelyn and wanted to see if they could work with the Friendly Divorce process.
THE NEGOTIATION: Evelyn and Noah reached agreement quickly on the major issues: They’d each be responsible for the loans on the cars they drove, and they would split what was owed on the line-of-credit and credit cards. Furniture would be divided between them. Everything seemed to be proceeding smoothly. Yet, even in the most amicable divorce, sometimes differences arise between the spouses, and Evelyn and Noah were no exception – even if their disagreement was over unusual points: Since their home had more than a year remaining on the lease, they were fighting over who would move and who’d remain in the house, and who would keep their dog. I suggested to Evelyn a way for her to resolve the dispute. After a month of back-and-forth, they achieved an accommodation, clearing the way for a Friendly Divorce.
THE OUTCOME: After obtaining Evelyn and Noah’s notarized signatures on a document that committed to paper how they’d decided to split their assets and debts, who would remain in the home and who got custody of the dog, I drafted the papers to be filed with the court seeking a divorce decree and applied for a hearing before a Ramsey County family court judge. When our date arrived, Evelyn and I went to court where the divorce was granted in less than 10 minutes before a judge.
MY ROLE: In addition to providing legal advice to Evelyn and reviewing the Friendly Divorce questionnaire she and Noah completed, when what seemed to be a roadblock in the process reared up, I helped Evelyn by suggesting a way to negotiate the stumbling block. Once the couple resolved their last remaining issues, I drafted all of the court documents and appeared with Evelyn before a judge to obtain the final dissolution of their marriage.
THE COST: Each divorce is unique which means the fee is likely to vary. Once we’ve had a meeting and I know more about your specific situation, I can give you a better idea of what your cost might be.