Many couples are unhappily married, but they choose to stay in the relationship for various reasons. Some stay together for the kids. Others are scared to divorce. Then there are those who avoid divorce because it is just too expensive.
Divorce is not cheap. Lawyer fees and court costs add up. The longer the process takes, the more money you will spend. The amount of money you can spend on divorce can range dramatically.
The average divorce can cost $15,000. Many cost a lot more. As you will be splitting up all your marital assets in a divorce, it is in your best interest to save as much money as possible. Here are some tips to help.
Gather Important Documents Ahead of Time
Come prepared for your meeting with your lawyer. Ask them what you should bring to the first appointment. Try to gather as many documents as possible, such as bank statements, pay stubs, retirement account information, tax returns, credit card statements, mortgage statements, and other evidence of assets and debts. By having all this information upfront, you can get the best advice possible and get started quickly. Plus, you avoid your lawyer having to spend time tracking down these documents, which means more money. Organization and common sense are key; do not spend money on things you can easily do yourself.
Get Your Priorities Straight
Divorce encompasses various elements. Prioritize your needs and wants accordingly. Do not go after everything. Instead, think about things you are entitled to receive, things you need, things that you would like to have if possible, and things you need to let go of.
In short, pick your battles. Know ahead of time what is important. Not everything is worth fighting for, and you certainly do not want to start an argument just to spite the other party. That typically backfires and costs a lot of money. Plus, if you have children, it will affect them in many ways. It will bring about unnecessary stress.
Be practical and think about a settlement that would honor your values. Think about your spouse’s wishes, as well. It is estimated that 95% of divorces settle outside of court. Make this goal if you want to save money.
A divorce is a lawsuit against your spouse. Remember that at the end of the day, it is business. Sure, it is an emotional experience, but you need to be in the right state of mind. Clearing your mind and getting rid of all the emotional baggage will help you make the best decisions, which will save you money in the long run.
Lawyers charge for every phone call, text, and email you send them, so you need to get down to business. If you must contact your lawyer, be strategic about it. Make a list of the topics you want to cover. Focus on your thoughts and keep everything streamlined.
Also, do some research on the laws regarding divorce. The more you know, the easier it will be to reach an agreement. Will you be able to get what you want? Is it better to compromise? Determine whether or not it is better to continue negotiations.
Mediation is a lot cheaper than going to court. Mediation involves using a third party to help you reach settlements on elements such as asset division, child support, and child custody. It’s a quick and inexpensive process if you and your spouse can get along. If you cannot, it might not be ideal, but if you can negotiate and compromise with each other, mediation can keep you out of court and save you a lot of money.
Along the same lines, avoid litigation, which means going to court. Court comes with a lot of expenses. You are paying court fees for a judge. You are also paying your lawyer more so they can prepare to fight your case in court. Plus, court cases can take a long time, as you are doing a lot of waiting. Courts are backed up, and hearings may be scheduled months ahead. You need to see if it will be worth it to go to trial, which may be possible in some cases.
Do Not Vent to Your Lawyer
Lawyers charge by the hour, and it is not cheap. You could be spending several hundred dollars an hour on legal fees. At this rate, you do not want to be spending more time with your lawyer than necessary. This means you should avoid venting to your lawyer. Your lawyer is not your therapist. If you need someone to talk to, ask a friend or trusted family member if you can vent. Otherwise, hiring a therapist would typically be much cheaper than going on and on about your spouse to your lawyer. Your lawyer is only interested in the facts in your case so they can get you divorced. Do not discuss your spouse’s affair or any other emotional matters with your lawyer unless you want a hefty bill later.
Seek Legal Help
Many people put off divorce because it is so expensive. If you are considering divorce, there are ways to save money. Plus, you want to be sure to save up and keep an eye on expenses once the divorce has been finalized.
Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can help you understand the costs involved and help you find ways to save money. Schedule a consultation with our office by calling (954) 398-5712 or filling out the online form.