Divorce is expensive. Here are 10 ways to save money on your divorce while still getting sound professional advice.
- Communicate with your soon-to-be-ex. This means putting your emotions aside and having good, honest communication. The more you can decide on together, the less you will have to pay professionals. If you are not getting along well when you speak to each other, you may have better luck over email or text. Just make sure you are keeping it positive.
- Gather documents promptly.Nobody wants to chase after you for documents. Get the documents that have been requested as soon as you can and show up for meetings on time and prepared.
- Use a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA). A CDFA can serve as a financial neutral, working with you to divide assets and calculate child and spousal support if pertinent. The financial neutral can provide certain asset valuations and other calculations without you having to hire an additional professional. S/he can also make sure that you are dividing your marital estate in a way that maximizes the money for both of you while minimizing the tax implication of your decisions.
- Engage a mental health professional if emotions are running high. Let’s face it. Divorce can be extremely emotionally charged. However, it is also a time when many important decisions need to be made. If you are having trouble setting your emotions aside and thinking with a clear head, a therapist would be the best person to help you.
- Use a mediator. While I always encourage that you have an attorney review your agreements, reaching those agreements with the assistance of a mediator can be very helpful and save you quite a bit on attorney fees. We even offer virtual mediation so you and your ex can meet via video conference. This is especially helpful if one of you travels a lot for work and/or you are living with a great distance between you.
- Limit communication with your attorney to what is necessary. Wait to send that email or make that call to your attorney until you have collected all the information that they requested. If you have questions, make a list and keep adding to it. Call when you when you feel the list is comprehensive. This will save you from multiple calls and emails, which can really add to the time the attorney spends on your case, costing you more money.
- Limit meetings with your attorney. Email is the quickest way to get information to your attorney. Meeting with her/him is the slowest. You should be able to meet with your attorney when you need to, but limit meetings to those that are truly necessary can substantially reduce your costs.
- Use your attorney’s paralegal. If you are working with an attorney who has a paralegal, keep in mind that their time is billed at a much lower rate than the attorney’s time. If you have a question or concern, or you need help with paperwork, contact the paralegal. If s/he does not have the answer, they will get the answer from your lawyer.
- Set emotions aside when making decisions. Do not let hurt or anger control your divorce. Focusing on what you can do to help yourself rather than to hurt your ex will save you money. There are some lawyers who will encourage you to be angry. They know that if you're angry, you will keep spending to fight and they will make more money. However, a good lawyer will tell you when your position is not in your best interest. Remember, there is no winner or loser in family court. A good lawyer will work to minimize your loss while working to meet your goals.
- Help your attorney to help you. When I talk to attorneys, I always hear the same thing. Clients are always leaving something out. They do not want to divulge every detail to their attorney. However, it can be a costly mistake. Your attorney is there to advocate for you and they can only do their job well if they have all the information. If there are surprises that arise during your case, the may not be as prepared to help you. This is especially important if your case is going to trial. You certainly do not want any surprises there.
I truly believe that divorce does not have to be such an emotionally and financially painful process. Let's discuss how you can have a fair, affordable, and amicable dissolution of your marriage.