If you thought the wedding was costly just wait until the divorce! Though the cost of a divorce can widely range, the average cost is anywhere between $15,000 and $25,000. There is also a huge emotional cost to bear on yourself and your family.
Luckily there are some steps you can take to ease the process on yourself and on your wallet and reduce costs during divorce.
Do your own research, use a lawyer only when necessary
The first step is to do your own thorough research. There are many free resources out there that can give you an edge in your case. For instance, you can find your state’s laws on divorce and understand procedures that must be followed. Know what will be in store for you during the divorce process so you can prepare.
This new found knowledge will not only help you communicate better with your lawyer but also with your spouse when negotiating. It will also help you to better budget when you know what costs you are about to incur.
Though hiring a lawyer may be smart in most cases keep your use of them to a minimum. Lawyers can quickly become expensive especially if you have hired one who works on an hourly wage versus a retainer. Your lawyer may seem like the perfect to person to vent to about your marital issues and while they may offer you some real advice it will certainly not be for free. Additionally, if you have a simple question that can be found online do not waste your time or money seeking this answer from your lawyer.
Be open-minded and do not let your emotions steer you
Of course, going into the divorce process you will have some ideas of what you want and what you think you deserve. But you should not by any means refuse to budge on these concepts. Your spouse is going to go into the process with certain demands as well but you will not be able to achieve anything if you are not willing to compromise. This will also help you save money by shortening the amount of time it will take to sort your issues out.
Furthermore, divorces are a particularly personal subject which means it will be an emotional one. Whether it is only property that needs to be decided or there are children in the mix it will be hard to take an objective perspective on the process. However, the less you let your emotions influence you the easier the process will be in the long run.
Maintain an amicable or working relationship with your ex
This can help significantly with your divorce though it is not always possible in reality. Part of this falls under the same category of relying less on your lawyer. The more details you and your spouse can work out privately the less time you will have to spend going through the same issues with lawyers. Just be sure that you both agree on the issues so there is no misunderstanding later on.
Moreover, divorces are never exactly fair but having an amicable relationship with your ex can help ensure that it is as close as possible. Though your marriage may have not worked it does not mean that the end has to result in catastrophe. It can also help to ease the pressure on children and other family members when going through this difficult time.
Uncontested divorces will save you a large chunk of money in the long run. Additionally, if you and your spouse are open to it, you can explore the possibility of a collaborative divorce which will involve group meetings rather than having adversarial lawyers. This is a great option if it is only the bigger issues you and your spouse are having trouble deciding. All of these routes will save you precious time and money.
Know your finances
If your husband has largely handled most of the money during your marriage it is time to become educated about your finances including your assets and debts. Try to keep track of important records such as tax returns or insurance policies. Otherwise obtaining duplicates may cost you. It will also save you from having to pay your lawyer to spend his or her time finding these types of documents.
If the case proceeds to court it is very important to know your income and report it accurately otherwise you will cost yourself more in the end. If the truth is withheld in court the judge can impose large fines or penalties.
You should also keep track of your finances regarding your lawyer. You should know what each item on your invoice is for and why you are paying for it. Make sure that the bill matches what you have previously agreed upon and that you are not being cheated. While sometimes it can be a simple clerical error it can save you hundreds. Your attorney may charge less for an email versus a phone call so make sure you are clear on this before you choose which you will pursue.
Keep litigation as a last-ditch effort
Lastly, avoid litigating your divorce at all costs. Litigating can be very expensive especially compared to the other options outlined and it may not give you the verdict you desire. Taking your divorce to court will cause the process to be significantly lengthened thus costing you more money in the end.
Other than being lengthy, court can be a very public option exposing you and your family to unwanted attention. It is important to note that litigation should only be used when all else fails because when the case is decided in court it is final. What the judge says goes and you no longer have a say in your personal affairs.
Overall, you should be well educated about the divorce process before you choose a lawyer or your method to resolve your marital issues. Having prior knowledge is the best way to save your time, money and emotional state. Best of luck.