There are various reasons why a divorce can be extremely costly for couples including disagreements on settlement, drawn-out trials and custody battles. While in some cases these may be unavoidable, we have compiled our top 7 tips on how to reduce the cost of your divorce. These tips will focus on things that are in your control and can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
- Learn about the process
Before you begin divorce proceedings, educate yourself as much as possible on divorce in general as well as the finer details involved in every step of the process. There is a wealth of information online and in county court libraries that can assist you with your research. By gaining a strong understanding of the divorce process, you will have a better sense of how to avoid unnecessary costs and make the divorce as affordable as possible. The more you know, the less money you will need to spend on attorneys having to educate you. Keep in mind that the laws and regulations pertaining to divorce differ between states. So you will need to understand those which will specifically apply to the state in which you live.
- Avoid Litigation
Going to court to settle your divorce can cause you to spend a fortune on the divorce process. Avoid going to court, if at all possible, as litigation will require that both you and your spouse will have to hire an attorney. There will be opportunities during your divorce process where you will have the chance to communicate with your spouse and negotiate. Avoid holding on to ill feelings to the point where you may want to go to court to spite your spouse. The cost of this process will never be worthwhile in terms of your emotional and financial well-being.
The cost of a mediated divorce is always less than one which involves court battles or negotiations involving attorneys. Mediators are skilled in facilitating difficult discussions to enable spouses to reach agreements on all aspects of their divorce. Mediators are not able to offer legal advice, but they are equipped to guide the process to achieve the best possible outcome for each party. Resolving disputes in mediation can allow a divorce to move forward as an uncontested divorce. Should there be tension and disagreement between you and your spouse, a second option could be a collaborative divorce in which attorneys are hired to resolve the dispute as quickly and efficiently as possible. Both these options are advisable routes to take in the pursuit of a less expensive divorce.
- DIY Divorce
One of the most effective ways to reduce the cost of your divorce is to complete as much of the process as possible yourself. This may involve doing all your own research, downloading your own divorce papers and filing for divorce yourself. As a starting point, there is a wealth of information and guidance which you can find online as a way to educate yourself about how the process works. Depending on what state and county you live in, you may be able to download and fill all your forms online at the court’s website. This means you could potentially complete your divorce over the internet. An online divorce can be conducted without an attorney, relying on guidance from county clerks and from your own research. This is one of the most effective ways to save money during the divorce process.
- Make Use of Free Consultations
The legal fees associated with a divorce can be exorbitant but sometimes unavoidable. There are a number of attorneys across the country who will offer the first consultation free of charge. Depending on your circumstances, this may be enough to get the guidance and clarity you need on certain aspects of your divorce. Should you require an additional hour of assistance, you could shop around and make use of other attorneys who also offer free first consultations.
Should your situation be quite complicated, you may need to invest in the services of the attorney on a more regular basis. In that case, do your correspondence over email as opposed to phone calls when possible. Emails are usually charged at a lower rate by attorneys. Do as much research as you can on your own to avoid wasting money and getting information from your attorney which is readily available online. Make sure you understand what your attorney will charge you for and how their fees are broken down.
- Be Organized and Practical
In the event that you require the services of an attorney, make sure that you are as organized as possible. Begin by making a list of all of your marital assets. This will reduce the amount of time your attorney will need to spend searching for this information. When you meet with your attorney, make sure you do your own preparation and take the time to collate all of the information they have asked for. Don’t drag your feet when it comes to responding to requests from your attorney. Should they need to constantly follow up with you, you will be charged for the follow-ups causing you to spend more money on attorney fees than necessary.
Although the divorce process is an emotional rollercoaster, be clear in your mind that your attorney is not your psychologist. You need to be practical and on point during your attorney appointments. Keep your discussions limited to the practical elements of your divorce and avoid spending valuable time discussing ill feelings towards your spouse or offloading your emotional baggage. Many spouses make this mistake and pay heavily for it in attorney’s fees.
- Compromise and Pick Your Battles
Splitting assets with your spouse can be a painful process. It is often symbolic of letting go of memories of your married life. This is especially true when it comes to the marital home and the dividing of assets you shared or bought together. It may be tempting to bicker about these items or to try to have the last word, but this will only draw out the divorce process and make it more stressful for both you and your spouse. Compromise when it comes to the division of assets and understand that letting the smaller things go will shorten the length and cost of your divorce.
Nobody ever gets exactly what they want during a divorce. The process requires a lot of compromise between you and your spouse. Take the time and effort to consider your spouse’s point of view and compromise when needed. Disagreements and prolonged negotiations, especially when an attorney is involved, will cause an unnecessary increase to the cost of your divorce.
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