Many divorcing couples may be worried that ending their marriage is going to break the bank. No divorce case is the same, but there are many common reasons why cases can become drawn out and more costly. Divorces that are high conflict, filled with disputes, and have spouses unable to work with one another will result in higher legal fees and more time spent going through the divorce process.
However, with the guidance of an experienced legal team and a little preparation, it is possible to avoid a high-cost divorce.
How to save money during divorce
According to Kris Balekian Hayes, managing partner at Balekian Hayes, PLLC, the following five simple steps can help couples save money during divorce.
1. Work with an experienced family lawyer.
It’s essential to choose a divorce lawyer wisely because the decision will ultimately impact how much money you spend on legal fees. The best lawyer is one that is experienced, knowledgeable, and fits well with your personality.
Because Family Law involves a wide range of family issues including marriage, divorce proceedings, legal custody and adoption, distribution of marital assets and ownership of property acquired before and during the marriage, and much more, it’s crucial to find a lawyer that has specialized knowledge. A board-certified family lawyer will have the knowledge and expertise needed to navigate state laws and codes and the trials and appeals of Family Law cases.
As the client, you can set the tone for your divorce. Your legal team is there to counsel you and respect your position on approaching the negotiations. Just because a lawyer is expensive doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best for you. Some family law firms will often honor your every wish knowing that you have no chance of winning. While other firms will advise against certain actions because they know they are not cost-effective.
2. Talk to your lawyer about your budget.
If your legal team is made aware of your financial constraints, they may be willing to work with you to find ways to keep costs low. Ask your attorney if you can help keep costs low by offering to review records and highlight certain topics, create outlines and timelines and draft the factual sections of pleadings instead of paying a legal team to do this work.
3. Keep all documents organized.
If you don’t keep your documents organized, you are paying your lawyer to organize things for court. Ask your attorney if there is a way that you can organize important files that would assist in the litigation and save you money overall.
4. Reach as many agreements with your spouse as possible.
All litigation is expensive so try to litigate the fewest number of issues possible. If you can, attempt to have those difficult conversations with your spouse because that may lead to an agreement and save you both attorney’s fees.
5. Be reasonable.
Although you may love that coffee table, it may cost you $500 to replace and $1,000 to fight your spouse for it. Throwing good money after bad isn’t hard to do when you let emotions take over, so try your best to handle property decisions as reasonably as possible because most things can be replaced.
6. Don’t send your attorney an email for each idea you have.
Make a list and send one email a day in a concise fashion about all of your thoughts. Attorneys bill by the hour and various time increments. It’s possible that your attorney is charging you for the lowest time increment for each email read even though it doesn’t use the complete allotted time (up to 6 minutes per email). You can send one email with all of your thoughts and not use more than that one increment.