Today’s guest post is by Hannah Clark
Every divorce is unique and will have different issues and outcomes based on the circumstances. However, most divorces have one thing in common – they can be costly. While there will always be fees and court costs associated with a divorce, not every divorce has to break the bank. You want to start your post-marriage life in the best possible situation, so it’s always important to consider how to reduce your legal costs. Below are some tips to help you save money on your divorce.
A divorce involves a lot of paperwork and information. The court will need to know details about your marriage, your kids, your property, and all of your financial accounts and debts. In this day and age, many of us got rid of the filing cabinet years ago and switched to paperless billing to avoid the clutter and help the environment. Online accounts are convenient, though they can make gathering all of your information in one place more complicated.
Take the time to organize any information you think might be relevant. This can include:
- Social security numbers of you, your spouse, and your kids
- Marriage and birth certificates
- Account numbers for bank accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts
- Account numbers for credit cards, car loans, student loans, and your mortgage
- Deeds and titles for your home and cars
- An inventory of your personal property
- Insurance policies
Write the information down and gather documents into a “divorce” folder, and make copies. This way, you can hand the folder right to your attorney, and they have the information they need to help you right from the very start.
Be Open And Honest with Your Lawyer
Let’s be honest – many people who are facing divorce have some secrets or have done or said things they’re not proud of. Unfortunately, some of these things – like adultery – may come into play during the divorce process. You may be embarrassed that your spouse cheated on you or feel bad that you have a secret credit card that you keep from your spouse. No matter how awkward you feel about disclosing this type of information, it’s very, very important to always be open and honest with your divorce lawyer about anything that may come up.
Divorce lawyers have seen it all – some couples split up amicably while others may tear each other down in court. What your lawyer doesn’t want is surprises in the middle of the process. For instance, you tell your lawyer that your spouse cheated and your lawyer uses this fact to argue for a better settlement for you. While the case is fully in motion, your spouse suddenly points fingers and says that you had an affair, as well. Now, your argument for a better settlement doesn’t work if you both cheated on the other. If your lawyer had known this from the start, they wouldn’t have to take the time to rethink their approach to your case.
Your attorney-client relationship is completely confidential, and it’s not your attorney’s position to judge. Instead, they want you to be honest, so they have the full story needed to best represent you.
Try To Reach an Agreement Regarding Your Property and Your Children
To finalize a divorce, you have to decide how you’re going to resolve several issues, including property and debt division, child custody, child support, and alimony. If you and your spouse can’t agree on your own, the judge will decide for you. This requires going to court and having your lawyer present your case at trial. Once your case heads to court, the price tag of your divorce can skyrocket.
It’s common sense that the more time your lawyer spends on your case, the more the case will cost, especially if it involves trial preparation. It’s always worth it to sit down with your spouse to talk – or have your attorneys talk – to reach an agreement on all the necessary issues. If you can’t agree, you can try mediation, which often helps disagreeing spouses communicate and compromise and stay out of court.
This not only saves you money, but it also saves time, energy, and stress for everyone involved, and can leave you in a better mindset. If you and your spouse fight it out in court over custody, you probably aren’t going to be very willing to cooperate with them when it comes to sharing custody. On the other hand, if you sit down together and come up with a custody arrangement that works for everyone, you will likely be able to co-parent better, which is healthier for both you and your kids.
Take Emotion Out of the Process
This probably seems much easier said than done for many people who are considering divorce. After all, you and your spouse decided you had “irreconcilable differences,” so how can you set those differences – and your anger or sadness – aside when it’s time to get divorced?
The divorce process can be much quicker, easier, and cheaper if you approach it from a practical standpoint instead of with emotion. Consider the following:
- You and your spouse purchased a classic car together
- You know how much your spouse loves the car, but you are angry that your spouse told you he is in love with someone else
- Out of spite, you refuse to let him keep the car and claim that you want it or that you should sell it
- Your attorneys go back and forth for weeks over what will happen to the car, which increases both of your attorney bills quickly
If you hadn’t acted out of anger or spite, you might have realized that if your spouse keeps the car, you can use it as a negotiating tool to get other valuable property you have. In fact, the other property may be worth much more than the car, which holds mostly sentimental value for your spouse. Acting practically would’ve ended with a better result for you in a shorter amount of time. Working with the right lawyer and mediator can often help keep you level-headed, though it’s up to you to try to check your emotions at the door during the divorce process.
These are only some ways that you may be able to keep costs as low as possible for your divorce. Your lawyer can also have ideas to help keep the case in your budget and to make sure you face the future in the best possible way.
Author bio: Hannah Clark is a highly skilled divorce attorney at Colorado Legal Group, located in Denver, CO. She has been recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 Lawyer by the American Society of Legal Advocates and as a Lawyer of Distinction.