Saving Money on Your Divorce
By understanding which areas you may be billed for, you can better prepare and save money. Divorces can rack up costs quickly, from attorney hourly rates to document preparation costs. You can reduce these costs by getting organized, acting logically, understanding the process and knowing how you can contribute, and being upfront with your attorney.
First things first, gather your information in one place. Label a divorce folder, and use it to hold identification documents, paperwork, and certificates. The court will need to know details about your life, including your marriage, children, assets, and finances.
Give your attorney all the information they need from the very beginning and save yourself the headache of tracking down all of the pertinent paperwork they will ask for later. Some documents you might include are:
- Account numbers and statements for all financial documents (mortgage, bank account, student loans, car loans, and credit cards)
- Current Bank information including statements for the past year, any and investment documents, and current retirement paperwork
- Deeds/titles for cars and homes
- An inventory/list of your community personal property
- Insurance policies and information including life insurance and car insurance
- A proposed list of division of community assets and debts
Make copies of all of these documents and keep them in your divorce folder. You will save time because your attorney will not have to bill more hours gathering information, thereby saving you money.
Keep a Level Head and Act Logically
Making emotionally-fueled decisions is not only tiring, it's expensive. The more time your attorney spends on your case, the more it is going to cost you. If you and your spouse can come to logical and rational solutions to issues over property, child custody, and division of community property and debt, you will save hours of billable attorney work. If you and your spouse refuse to agree on anything, you may need to involve an arbitrator, mediator, or even take the case to court, which will cost significantly more.
Save yourself the money. Sit down with your spouse, have your attorneys talk, or even hire a mediator. Discuss the necessary decisions you want to make to avoid a costly trial and keep tensions low.
The more issues you solve between you and your spouse, the less your attorneys will have to go back and forth, racking up an expensive bill. You will be grateful for the time, stress, and money it will save you to act logically and keep emotions out of the process.
Understand the Process and Your Role
Educating yourself on the divorce process can greatly help you save money. For example, if you know to provide all necessary information to your lawyer at the start, you will save money because your attorney will not have to waste time tracking down the information from you later during your case.
Know that you play a role in the work your attorney is doing, and be prepared to help in any way needed. The less time your attorney has to work on your case, the lower your bill will be.
Be Completely Honest
It can be embarrassing to share highly private or personal information with your attorney, and that is understandable. However, your lawyer is not there to judge you, they are there to help you. The information you provide will determine the direction your case takes, so it is very important that you are completely open and honest.
It may be awkward to talk about your finances, employment, relationships, or secrets, but it will be much more awkward if your spouse uses that information against you later on and your attorney is blindsided. Your lawyer will be able to work around sensitive information you provide, but they won't be able to help you if they do not know the whole story.
You will save money on your case if your attorney does not have to spend time rethinking their strategy every time new information pops up. Just be clear and honest from the start.