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Legally Speaking


By EVAN H. BARON, PA Learning a Difficult Lesson T


here’s an old saying: “Penny wise…pound foolish”. It refers to people who in their efforts to save money, wind up spending more in the long run. This is often the case in a Dissolution of Marriage. There are more and


more people trying to handle their cases without the assistance of an attorney. Sometimes it works out, especially if the issues in the case do not include minor children, significant property or a long term marriage. Everyone has heard “Horror Stories” about astronomical legal fees. Most cases do not require excessive fees. Of course the more complex the case; the more time necessary to prepare the case, resulting in more money spent. Family law attorneys charge by the hour, so time obviously equals money. Hourly rates can range from $275.00 an hour to $350.00 an hour. Some attorneys will even charge more.


In most cases, excessive fees can be avoided if the participants are reasonable in their expectations. I have found that many cases incur unnecessary fees because one or both of the parties have unreasonable demands or perhaps they are more interested in the fight, than the resolution. In reality, in most instances the clients control the time spent and therefore the fees charged.


Several days ago I received an inquiry from a woman who had been divorced for about a year. She was inquiring as to whether I could assist her in a post judgment issue. She and her husband decided to handle the dissolution without either of them hiring an attorney. As a result they agreed to sell the house and equally divide the proceeds. The problem is that her husband has a much greater income, and as such she is using her equity from her home to pay a portion of her monthly expenses. She was not


initially concerned because her former


husband told her not to worry because he will help her out if she needs any financial assistance. Of course, none of this was in writing. She now wanted to seek alimony, even though she never requested was finalized. I attempted to explain to her that it is waived forever.


A party cannot re-open a case and seek relief from the courts if the matter, such as alimony, was previously waived. If she had hired an attorney she could have been properly advised. She would have known that a verbal promise She


is would


unenforceable. have


been


informed as to the likelihood of receiving alimony. She might not find herself in the


financial situation


she is currently in. She indeed saved the costs of hiring an attorney. But the question is “at what cost?”


“Penny foolish”!


wise…pound


it when the divorce if alimony is waived,


Evan H. Baron, PA, has been practicing law for over 28 years. His law office is located at 1565 North Park Drive, Suite 100 in Weston. For more information, please call 954-385-9160 or visit www.evanbaron.com


40 March 2011


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