Divorce can be an emotional and stressful time for couples. The process of divorce can also be expensive. Legal fees, courtroom costs, and unnecessary disputes can cause the price of divorce to skyrocket.
Thankfully, in many cases, the cost may be lowered if both parties are willing to engage in certain strategies. A lower-cost divorce requires preparation and patience from both parties, but it can be done. Let’s take a look at some simple strategies to lower the cost of divorce.
Avoid Litigating (if Possible)
Litigation, the process of filing a lawsuit and taking legal action, is the number one cost for divorcing couples. It is recommended each party hire an experienced divorce attorney to help save money during a divorce.Couples should utilize their attorney’s skills and experience to reach an amicable resolution through direct negotiations.
Litigating a divorce is exhausting, confusing, and expensive. Oftentimes, divorced couples end up appearing in court more than once and driving up costs. Working with a knowledgeable attorney can save both time and expense.
In most cases, it may be cheaper to utilize the expertise of a third party in a divorce. Divorce mediators can facilitate conversations between spouses. These discussions may help couples reach agreements and avoid court. Costs of mediation depends on how often the couples meet with the mediator and how many topics need resolution.
Organize Financial Records
If financial records are not organized before beginning the divorce process, lawyers have to analyze and organize the information which adds to the overall costs. Divorcing spouses should organize all financial records upfront, including:
- State and federal tax returns
- Bank statements
- Payment receipts
- Canceled checks
- Financial statements
- Profit and loss statements
- Social Security statements
If couples do not have these records organized and ready, they will be paying their divorce lawyer an hourly fee to organize the documents. To further reduce costs, couples can organize their financial documents electronically and synchronize their naming protocol. Physical paper documents may cost more for attorneys to process.
Learn About the Process Beforehand
The more divorcing couples can educate themselves on divorce, the less time their lawyer has to spend explaining the process. Spouses should learn as much as they can before they meet with attorneys, but it is still important for them to listen to their attorneys’ advice. They should still ask questions about anything they don’t understand to reduce any confusion and ultimately streamline the process.
Another money-saving strategy for divorcing couples is to prepare a post-divorce checklist. Money can be saved if both parties are prepared for what they need to handle after the divorce is finalized. In regards to finances, the following items need attention:
- Updating names on insurance policies, loans, and retirement accounts
- Closing any joint bank accounts and opening personal accounts
- Pay off any outstanding debts
- Update automatic payment plans
Save Time With the Attorney
Most divorce attorneys charge in six minute intervals. So, almost every interaction can end up costing clients money. If spouses have questions or information to relay, it is often better to email instead of calling. Emailing may save time, and therefore money, if the email is well-articulated.
If a phone call is needed, it is best to schedule it in advance so both the client and the attorney are prepared to discuss the issues without wasting time. It is recommended that clients prepare questions in advance and take detailed notes of the conversation.
Divorcing spouses should never use their attorneys as therapists. If a client needs professional, emotional support, they should work with a licensed therapist.
Therapy and mental health counseling can be very helpful for people going through a divorce and can provide needed support.
Compromise on Assets
What will ultimately save the most money on divorce is respectful communication and compromise from both parties. Large disagreements and heated arguments over household items, personal property, and finances will cost more money for attorneys to settle or litigate.
Couples should try to “agree to disagree” on small issues and compromise on large issues. Even if couples cannot come to an agreement on the large issues, they will have saved money by figuring out the small issues themselves.
Don’t Let Emotions Complicate Finances
Divorce can be an emotional rollercoaster. If these sentiments come into play when dealing with technicalities, the process can get lengthy and expensive. Divorcing couples should try their best to prepare, educate themselves, organize finances, and remain calm during communication. All of these strategies will help lower the overall cost of divorce.
This article contains general legal information and does not provide legal advice. For legal advice, please contact M. Sue Wilson Law Offices directly.