A divorce can be costly and can have a big impact on your financial health. We have compiled the 7 best ways for you to save money during the process and keep the proceedings as inexpensive as possible.
Resolve your marital issues and stay together
While it may feel like your marriage is at a point of no return and that divorce is your only option, divorce should always be a last resort as a conclusion. Putting in the effort to address marital problems and avoid divorce proceedings altogether, is undoubtedly the easiest way to save money. As even amicable divorces can be costly, should you see the potential for counseling or talking through your problems as an option, we highly recommend this before divorce proceedings are initiated. If both spouses are willing to try and make the marriage work, this is an option that should always be considered as a priority.
Mediation is a process that allows couples to meet with a third party who is unbiased, neutral and specially trained to handle negotiations between spouses before they formally move to divorce proceedings. Mediation sessions take place to address the issues which commonly need resolution prior to a divorce is concluded. Should couples disagree on how things should be settled or assets should be split, divorce proceedings can be drawn out, including the length of time which each person requires an attorney? Mediation seeks to resolve these issues first and, by doing so, saves a lot of time and money and makes the entire process more affordable. Mediators do not actively make decisions but rather facilitate discussions so that conclusions can be drawn by the couples themselves.
Although it may seem daunting, it is possible to complete divorce proceedings without an attorney. Instituting proceedings on this basis is most appropriate in cases where the parties agree on how the divorce will be settled and have no major disputes.
Where there are few assets to divide, no children born from the marriage and it would be an uncontested divorce, handling your own divorce is certainly possible and a lot more cost-effective. What we do still recommend, when filing for divorce without legal counsel, is getting an attorney to review your divorce forms and ensure that no mistakes have been made and that all relevant documents are presented. In this case, there are many attorneys who offer free consultations so do your homework to save money on having your documentation reviewed. We recommend chatting to a few attorneys to see which one you can easily communicate and work well with.
In the event that you have assets to divide between you and your spouse or if you have children and need to make a determination in terms of custodianship, it is advised that you enlist the help of an attorney who can draft a comprehensive agreement between you and your spouse as to how visits will take place, who is the primary custodian of the children and what financial contributions or alimony are required to be paid. It is not recommended you handle these elements of a divorce on your own.
Should you decide to handle your divorce on your own, with the help of the attorney, you could go the route of applying for divorce over the internet. While a web divorce may sound unconventional, filing divorce online has become an increasingly common practice. Online divorce means you get to avoid the sometimes traumatic experience of going to a court as well as avoid the queues you would otherwise have to stand in.
Understand your attorney’s fees and who you are working with
One of the most common disputes amongst clients and attorneys is the attorney fees that are charged. This is also often the most expensive part of the divorce proceedings as the bills often add up quicker than you might anticipate. To avoid any unwelcome surprises, we recommend having a written fee agreement upfront so that you understand what you will be billed for and liable to pay once the divorce is finalized.
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This written agreement should cover the fees you will pay for the assistance from paralegals, legal assistants, and your attorney. It should also include the smaller additions such as the cost of making copies and receiving emails. Should you be billed and not agree on the items contained in the bill, it is important to bring these up with your attorney immediately.
Second, when you approach a law firm, you might be tempted to request working with a firm’s partner as they have more experience and would have handled many cases such as yours. While law partners typically are more experienced, they cost significantly more and are not crucial to ensuring that you get the desired outcome from your divorce. Working with associates is a lot more cost-effective as their hourly rate is much cheaper and you will most likely receive similar service in the case of divorce.
Be Prepared for Attorney Meetings
In the event that you need the services of an attorney, ensure that you are as prepared as possible to meet with them so that the time spent with them is as short as possible (as you are billed by the hour). The more organized you are, the cheaper your legal fees will be. The more compiling and organizing of information you can do on your own ahead of your meetings with your attorney, the more costs you can save. In all divorce proceedings, household and personal budget summaries are required. As only you have access to all this information and where to find it, avoid spending time with an attorney to create these summaries. They can be done in your own time ahead of meeting with your attorney.
The same goes for the list of marital assets. As the assets acquired during the course of the marriage will be split between both spouses, you can save time and money by having this list completed before meeting with your attorney. Having all this information ready makes it easier for your attorney to give you sound advice in a short space of time as they have all of the required information at hand.
Be prompt with Attorney Requests and Disclose all Relevant Information
Attorneys often charge their clients for emails, texts, and phone calls. Should they require information from you, do your best to provide it as quickly as possible so to avoid additional and unnecessary communication from your attorney to follow up on outstanding information. When your attorney has all the information they need, they are able to speed up the process of the divorce proceedings and ultimately save you time and money.
In addition to being prompt with communication, it is important you are upfront and honest about all your assets. Withholding information because you believe you could keep assets you do not want to share with your spouse, will only count against you in court proceedings when this comes to light. And more often than not, it does. Be open and honest, always!
Pick your battles
Divorce and divorce proceedings can often become unpleasant as emotions run high and spouses usually enter negotiations and settlement talks with hurt feelings. Often spouses don’t realize that they can’t get exactly what they want and that in some cases, it is not worth it to pay your attorney to fit for every last cent you believe you have a claim to. Make the conscious decision to pick your battles and accept those which you cannot win. Be prepared to compromise. This will save you time and money in the end as drawing out proceedings by contesting all of the decisions made and assets to be split, will only mean you have a higher attorney’s bill to settle.
Divorce can be costly as well as stressful for both parties. We hope that this list has provided you with valuable tips on how to minimize the cost of your divorce and avoid wasting money in areas you don’t need. Be willing to compromise through this process and understand that you may not always get out of the divorce what you expected. Avoid fighting tooth and nail on every point and save yourself the time, energy and money by picking your battles.