Sometimes couples, who want to be divorced, cannot afford to become legally divorced. Divorce is not always the neat little separation package it appears to be on the surface. Everything about a person’s life including property, finances, and children can contribute to the necessity for legal fees, attorney fees, and a host of other fees in a divorce case. Divorce can end up costing you a lot more than just your marriage. However, there are things you can do to help you save time and money on your divorce.
1. Agree on As Much As Possible
If you and your spouse can agree on all the issues involved in your divorce settlement, then you are doing yourself a financial favor. If you can at least agree on most of the issues involving child custody, distribution of assets, and alimony, then you are ahead of most. If you and your spouse can agree on every aspect of the divorce and file the pleadings yourself, then you can even file an agreed settlement divorce, in which you will only have to pay court filing fees.
Most states provide all necessary forms for divorce on the state’s website. If you and your spouse fill out and file the necessary forms yourself, you can save money. Many people, however, still hire an attorney to assist them in completely the necessary forms, as they do not always feel comfortable filling out and filing legal documents on their own.
2. Select the Right Attorney for You
Just because an attorney is pricey does not mean he/she is the best attorney. Experience, special skills, and expertise all contribute to the fees an attorney will charge you. If you and your spouse can agree on custody, then an attorney with a specialty for custody cases is most likely not needed. If you and your spouse cannot agree on custody and ongoing financial support, then an attorney will be needed and the attorney fees will be incurred. In custody disputes it is typically better to hire an attorney, who is more of a negotiator and mediator than a bully. Remember, it costs money to go to court, so settlement is a less expensive option.
3. Attorneys Charge by the Hour
Approach your divorce attorney with the understanding that he/she charges for their services. You can save money by effectively managing your engagement with your divorce attorney. Do your best to settle issues with your spouse, before requiring your attorney to step in and negotiate for you. Your attorney will not only charge you for time spent working with you, but they will also charge you for time spent working with your spouse and your spouse’s attorney.
If you lean on your attorney too much to solve all of your problems for you, it could end up costing you a pretty penny. It is oftentimes comforting to talk to somebody with an attentive ear, especially when you are going through the emotional turmoil of a divorce. Using your attorney as your therapist can become very, very expensive. If you need to work through the emotional issues surrounding your divorce, then it is more cost effective to see a real therapist.
4. Understand Your Financial Situation
In many cases you are not the one handling the family finances. Your spouse may know everything about your financial situation, and you know little to nothing. Get an understanding of your current financial situation. Get a hold of a copy of your credit report, so you are in the know about all of your open credit sources. The more you know about your financial situation, the better able you will be to discuss the distribution of assets.
Like with anything in life, the more you are able to do yourself, the less it will cost you. The more you need to rely on the expertise of others, the more it will cost you. The more you and your spouse can agree on ahead of the divorce settlement and the more you understand about your current financial situation, the easier and less costly the divorce will be. Also, remember to use your attorney wisely, to help you save money on your divorce.