Is a Low Cost Divorce Really Possible?
Divorces tend to be expensive. Some of my clients tell me they stay married just to avoid the cost of the divorce! But there are tactics to keep your costs down.
- Meet with a lawyer before you approach your spouse for a plan. Some lawyers offer free consultations, in fact, at my office, you can schedule with my associate, Jamerson Godsey for thirty minutes of free legal advice. You should have a clear idea of what is actually possible before you speak to your spouse. For example, if you are seeking child support you should approach your spouse with the approximate amount the Court would order. The more information you have the better to have an educated conversation with your soon to be ex.
- Come prepared when you make your second appointment with a lawyer. Have an agreement with your spouse to as many things as you can work out before you come in to the get an uncontested agreement prepared. If you don’t know the terms you can spend thousands of dollars trying to get an agreement in place. Sit down with your partner and if at all possible, make an attempt to work out the terms.
- Be clear about the terms you will or will not accept in an uncontested divorce. If the two of you argue back and forth you are running up the tab. Think rationally about what you are actually willing to accept even though it’s hard to leave the emotion at the door when you are analyzing what you can live with.
- Have all the applicable information so the attorney you hire doesn’t have to try and find the information. For example, bring the deeds if new deeds have to be prepared. Bring the retirement plans if a retirement asset is being divided. If you are the one with the retirement asset then get the information ahead of time from the plan administrator. Know what the accounts are that will be divided. Go ahead and have a list of personal property to be divided. Endless appointments to go over these kinds of things can run up your uncontested divorce.
- I mentioned this earlier but it bears repeating. Take a deep breath and evaluate the terms with as much detachment as you can muster. I’ve seen people spend thousands of dollars “on principle”. Fighting on principle and saving money on your divorce don’t usually go hand in hand. Realize that you no matter how difficult it is to stomach most of the times you won’t ever really get the compensation you deserve. Heartbreak is impossible to quantify.
- Come to the table with the facts. If lawyers have to file discovery and go digging around to find out things that are easily produced like income information and information on debts and assets then it’s going to get expensive. I’ve had clients refuse to produce documents until a case is filed. The information IS going to be obtained so you can make it easy and lower cost or you can dig in your heels and pay more.
- One money saving idea for your divorce if it is contested is to produce your discovery already organized and already copied. I’ve had people produce boxes of papers for us to go through. If you have it in order it saves you money.
- For contested divorces, don’t call or email the attorney many times a day or week unless it’s absolutely imperative. If you want to complain about your spouse it’s probably not cost effective to speak to your attorney about it unless it’s something they need to take action on.
- Be organized and give your attorney the information you feel is necessary with comprehensive bullet formed notes. If you send a variety of emails you will likely be charged. Sit down and write all the applicable information and give it to them.
- One more for contested, if you want items subpoenaed bring the correct name and addresses. If the attorney has to go looking for the information it’s going to cost you more money.
I can’t promise you a low cost divorce but the least I can do is let you know there are ways to create a lower cost uncontested divorce.