Divorce is expensive. Shocker of the year, right? Sorry to completely blow your mind like that.
Kidding, of course. It surprises absolutely no one to learn that divorce costs a lot of money. Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to cut down on the expenses and save during divorce.
How much a divorce costs exactly depends on many factors. In terms of simple cases, usually shorter marriages with few shared assets and no children, divorce may cost little more than filing fees.
That said, the more you have to deal with, the more complicated things get, the more it usually costs.
Children and tons of property complicate the process. The more conflict there is, the longer things often take. If you need to hire a divorce lawyer, that obviously adds a big expense to the mix.
Considering all of this, what can you do? How can you save money during divorce? Her are five tips to help you pare down some of those expenses related to lawyers. They’re not the only ones, but these have proven effective many times.
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Knowing your rights and what to expect often helps save money during divorce. The more you know, the easier it is to work with an attorney or mediator to reach an agreement.
Understanding the process also allows you to do some of the legwork yourself instead of paying someone else.
Taking a hands-on approach, one coordinated with your representation makes sure you’re doing everything you can to help your case. Educating yourself also helps you understand what your lawyer is doing and why.
It’s important to work with your attorney to complete the crucial steps and the right time. Otherwise, you run the risk of undermining the work they’ve done and potentially creating more they can bill you for.
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Get organized. Having all of your paperwork and documents together and ready to go is essential to streamlining the process. It saves both time and money. Having your attorney organize everything on your behalf is an expensive proposition. Again, this strategy cuts down on the billable hours and can save you money in divorce.
Don’t spend money to have your attorney do work you can do for yourself.
Arrange information, documents, and files in a way that helps them understand your case and your situation. If you already have access to your ex’s financial records, they don’t have to track them down. Even if you don’t want to organize it all yourself, you can even hire a temporary personal assistant to do the work for you. That costs, but it’s still likely less than you’d pay most divorce lawyers.
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Your lawyer is on your side. That said, they can’t help you if they don’t know the whole truth. Clients who withhold information often undermine their own cases. Failing to share important details can hinder their ability to protect your rights.
Giving your attorney all the information upfront gives them a full, accurate picture of your situation.
That way they can chart the best course of action. If you do something like try to hide assets, and that gets found out, it creates a number of potential speedbumps. It takes time to navigate those speed bumps and repair any damage. And guess what? An attorney is going to charge for that.
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Pick Your Battles
As we said earlier, the more there is to deal with, the longer the process takes. If you want to save money on your divorce, you need to simplify things. Too many couples fight about everything. That takes up time, which–say it out loud–your attorney will bill you for.
Know what’s most important. Be realistic about where you’re willing to compromise and where you aren’t.
Don’t argue about who gets that box of tangled old Christmas lights just to stick it to your ex. There’s no point paying $500 in fees for something with no sentimental value that you can replace for $100. It happens all the time. But if you have a clear, honest idea of what you’re willing to fight for, you’ll usually fare much better.
Part of picking your battles is about knowing when not to fight. But it’s also about knowing the right time to fight. Don’t be a pushover just to save a few dollars. The decisions made now impact your life for years. It’s okay to spend money, just spend it efficiently and on the things that actually matter.
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Not Your Therapist
Your divorce lawyer is not your therapist. If you understand that simple fact, you can save money during divorce.
Divorce lawyers are privy to intimate details about your life, often things no one else knows, even close friends. Too often this leads people to unburden themselves.
Make no mistake, your attorney is on your side, wants the best outcome for you, and should empathize with your situation. But their job is not to offer emotional support and help you deal with personal problems. Nor is this in your best interest. Idling chatting with an attorney about your dating life is time you get charged for, but also time they’re not able to work on your case.
Talking to a therapist, counselor, or a support group is fantastic and healthy. It’s often a key part of dealing with the complex emotions of divorce, recovering, and moving on. Also, a mental health professional has more tools and resources to help you through an emotional, turbulent time than your lawyer. If you avoid using your attorney like a shrink, you may save money during divorce.
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Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of an earlier post and has been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.