There’s no doubt divorce can be costly. Many individuals going through divorce often worry about how much it will cost, and whether they will be able to afford it. Alternatively, they simply underestimate just how much it will cost. Although legal and other expenses are unavoidable in a divorce, there are a number of steps you can take to drastically reduce such costs. Most divorce lawyers charge by the hour, and the less time your lawyer spends on your case, the lower her fees.
No matter how your spouse behaves, you can take steps to help remain in control of your expenses, and minimize your divorce costs as follows:
1. Keep it amicable.
As difficult as it may be, by keeping matters amicable, you are much more likely to reach a settlement. Working together with your spouse to achieve a divorce settlement agreement can save you a lot of money. By being prepared to compromise, especially on the smaller matters, you can help avoid unnecessary and costly litigation. Negotiating a settlement with regards to child custody arrangements or financial matters will be substantially cheaper than having to litigate on such matters in court.
2. Be organized.
The more you can do to provide your lawyer with organized and accurate banking and financial information, the less time your lawyer has to spend reviewing and understanding that information. This will also minimize your lawyer having to request further documents or clarification from you. Providing your documents electronically as opposed to paper copies will also save you money. It generally takes lawyers less time to process organized documents provided electronically, as opposed to files of paper documents hand-delivered to their office. At home, organize your documents so that you can quickly locate whatever your lawyer needs from you.
3. Communicate concisely and meet deadlines.
As your lawyer will likely be charging by the hour, the more time she has spend reading, considering and responding to lengthy emails, the higher your legal fees. Try to be concise in your emails, and only write when necessary. If you’re asked to action something by your lawyer, do it as soon as possible and certainly by the deadline given. By doing so, you are avoiding your lawyer having to spend time chasing you for a response, or risking the court awarding costs against you for non-compliance.
4. Email instead of call.
It will likely take your lawyer less of her time to read, consider and respond to specific questions raised in your email, as opposed to a call. Avoid copying your lawyer into emails you send to your spouse, simply for his or her information. If you do need to have a call with your lawyer, it’s best to have a scheduled call so that you are both prepared and focused on the matter to be discussed. Have your list of questions and topics you wish to discuss ready in order to have a productive call. Having your documents ready and organized will also help you to quickly find whatever you need to during your call.
5. Avoid using your lawyer as a therapist.
You should keep your lawyer updated on issues that you’re dealing with, and she can provide you with advice on how to deal with those issues. However, your lawyer is not a trained therapist or counselor; her primary goal is to provide you with legal counsel and to protect your legal rights. There are more qualified and often less costly experts out there to provide you with those counseling or therapy services.
6. Contact your Paralegal or Legal Assistant.
It is common practice for good law firms to have qualified and experienced paralegals or legal assistants working alongside your lawyer in your case. They will likely be charging a much lower hourly rate than your lawyer, and generally have more availability than lawyers to answer questions. If you need information on administrative matters such as wanting an update in your case, information on the next court date, or copies of any the documents, then contact the paralegal or legal assistant. This will help you save on legal costs and in getting a quick response.
7. Focus on the big picture.
It is very easy in a divorce to fixate on the minute details, such as wanting to dissect your spouse’s bank statements, or going on an endless trail to trace a money transaction. Taking this course of action will result in hours more work for your lawyer, with usually little to no impact on the overall outcome of your financial settlement. Try to avoid these unnecessary legal costs by focusing on the ultimate outcome you desire. Think about the overall settlement you would ideally like, and listen to your lawyer’s advice as she works towards achieving this for you.
By following these simple steps, you can help significantly reduce your legal costs and
remain more in control of your overall expenses.