10 Ways to Save Money In Your Divorce
Going through a divorce can be mentally and emotionally draining. However, the divorce process does not have to drain your finances. Here are some tips on saving money and limiting the costs of attorney fees through your divorce.
- Understand Your Fee Agreement. Read your fee agreement and understand what you will be charged for during the divorce process. Your fee agreement should tell you if you will be charged for paralegal/legal assistant's time. The fee agreement will also tell you if your attorney charges for travel, copying, mailing, etc. Know what you will be charged for and at what rate.
- Be Organized. Whether you are preparing for a meeting, sending an email, or placing a phone call, make sure you have organized your thoughts. Prepare a list of questions and topics that you want to discuss. This will help you stay focused and allow you to get the answers you want in a time effective manner. Organize your documents so that you can quickly find whatever you need or what is being requested of you.
- Fill out your Financial Disclosure Statement. You are in the best position to know your finances. Fill out the first draft of your financial disclosure statement and gather supporting documents such as: bank statements, credit card balances, mortgage statement, retirement account balances, and past tax returns. This will limit the information gathering that has to be done by your attorney through discovery.
- Contact Paralegals and Legal Assistants When Appropriate. Paralegals and Legal Assistants bill at lower rates than attorneys, if they bill at all. If you need answers on administrative issues such as what is happening in your case, when is your next court date, or you need a copy of a pleading, contact the paralegal or legal assistant. This will result in saving you money and getting a quick response. Contact your attorney when you have questions that require legal advice.
- Hire the Appropriate Professionals. In addition to a lawyer it may be necessary to hire other professionals. These professionals include: accountants, financial planners, and appraisers. These experts can assist in providing valuations of privately owned businesses, identifying assets, valuing investment and retirement accounts, valuing real property, and explaining the tax implications of different settlement options. Hiring the appropriate professional can save time and money.
- Take the Emotion Out of the Process. You hired an attorney to give you legal advice based on the facts of your case. Your attorney is not appropriately trained to help you deal with the emotional struggles that come with a divorce. If you are struggling with the emotion aspect of the divorce process you can save yourself money by hiring a counselor or therapist.
- Reach an Agreement on Personal Property Items. Work with your spouse to divide the tangible personal property such as household furnishings. There is nothing cost effective about paying an attorney to argue over your furniture. Make a list of the items you want and exchange the list with your spouse. If there are a couple items that you cannot agree upon consider the cost of the item. It does not make sense to pay each of your attorneys hundreds of dollars an hour to argue over a couch that is worth $500.00.
- Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution. Trials are expensive. Consider participating in a settlement conference or engaging a mediator. Mediation allows the parties to take control and have a say in the outcome of their divorce. Even if you do not reach an agreement on all the issues, mediation can be helpful in narrowing and limiting the issues for trial. Reaching an agreement is always more cost effective than litigation.
- Be Honest With Your Attorney. Be up front with your attorney about all the potential issues in your divorce. Being honest with your attorney will allow your attorney to form an effective plan on how to deal with each issue from the start. Concealing information or assets from your attorney can be a costly mistake.
- Review Your Bills. Review your bills each month to see what you were charged for and ensure that you understand the charges. If you have questions about the bill ask immediately, do not wait until your divorce is completed.