You and your spouse have agreed to divorce, but are you sure you’ve agreed on all areas of major concern?
- Do you own real property?
- Do you have children of the marriage who are under 18 or still in high school who live at home?
- Are substantial joint debts involved (e.g. high balance credit card in both names)?
- Are the vehicles titled in both names, with the debt in both names too?
- Are retirement accounts such as an IRA, 401k, military retirement, Federal civil service retirement, or Teacher’s Retirement System account involved?
If all the answers to the questions above are “no,” the agreement can be rather easy. Most of the time it is a ‘I keep mine” and “you keep yours” type of decree that awards personal property and personal debt to each spouse.
If your answers to most the questions above are “yes,” it’s still possible to achieve an agreed divorce but, crafting the agreement is a more complex undertaking. For example, will the house be sold and proceeds split or will one spouse buy-out the equity of the other? How will the equity buy-out be structured? Will the spouse buying-out the other refinance the home within a specified time and, if unable to refinance, be compelled to list the home for sale by a certain date to extinguish the non-owning spouse’s liability under the assumed deed of trust (aka, mortgage). Did you know that special orders are not required to divide an IRA, but are required to divide the other type of retirement accounts mentioned above. The wording of the special orders (commonly referred to as “domestic relations orders”) hinge on how much of the marriage overlapped the accumulation of retirement benefits up to the time of divorce. This list goes on.
If “yes” to children, have you come to an ironclad agreement for custody and visitation of the children? Does the agreement include a geographic restriction on the children’s residence? Has child support been agreed and calculated? Has the division of costs for extracurricular activities been resolved? Again, the list goes on.
Our firm has helped many couples complete “simple” and “complex” agreed divorces on a flat fee basis. The specific fee depends on the mix of issues and answers to the questions described above. Every fee agreement acknowledges that, at any time, the “agreed divorce” might transition to a “contested divorce” if one spouse stops cooperating. At that point, we have to revisit our agreement with the client for a “contested divorce.” That said, we have a strong track record of completing agreed divorces for an affordable flat fee.
Speak with a qualified divorce attorney if you believe you and your spouse have a comprehensive agreement for divorce. During a no-cost consultation, we’ll ensure you’ve thought through all of the details and quote a reasonable flat fee based on the specific facts of your situation.
Co-author Jim Cramp is a retired active duty colonel and the founder and principal attorney at the Cramp Law Firm, PLLC. Co-author Matthew Grimshaw is an attorney in the firm. Matthew grew up in a military family and has a passion for minimizing clients’ stress and concern throughout the divorce process. The firm provides a spectrum of family law-related services to clients in the greater San Antonio region, across the United States and throughout the world. The firm specializes in Federal Civil Service and Military Divorce matters. The firms also provides Wills and Estates and Probate services.