An affordable divorce lawyer might still send you a huge divorce bill. You might be making your divorce more expensive. A cheap divorce lawyer may still be expensive if they have more billing hours because you’re making your divorce more expensive.
The key to beating divorce costs isn’t just to hire an affordable divorce lawyer; you should be trying to reduce your costs yourself.
Communicate With Your Spouse
Resentment is common in a divorce. You might resent your spouse, and there is sure to be fear, anxiety and anger involved. You’re ending a life with someone else, and if the communication has gone silent, you’re going to go through an expensive divorce.
In the ideal world, a couple would:
- Set aside their differences
- Sit at the kitchen table
- Hash out the details of their divorce
If you can do this one thing, you’ll be able to lower the number of billable hours of your attorney.
But most couples allow emotions to dictate the path of their divorce and end up bickering over the small details. That small clock you purchased in France for $100 is not worth three hours of lawyer fees.
The emotional cost of a divorce is often one of the reasons for high billable hours.
Try to Avoid the Court Gamble
A battle in the courtroom is not the ideal situation. Couples often seek justice in the courtroom, and when they have expectations of the court being 100% just, they’re often disappointed. Justice can be elusive.
The vast majority of divorces, some 95%, end up being settled out of court.
If you want to take your divorce to court, you’re risking a lot of money in the process. You’re:
- In pain
Emotions that land you in the courtroom are not worth the cost. Before you even rush to law experts, you want to sit down with your partner.
It might take a few attempts, but try to find a neutral place to just sit and talk with your partner. Don’t go into the process with resentment or anger. Instead, you want to go into the divorce process with an open mind.
The common occurrence is:
- You’ll agree on some issues
- Disagree on other issues
If you have one major point of disagreement or several, judge how important this point is to you. Perhaps you can negotiate something else in the divorce to agree on this point. If not, you can always choose to discuss your disagreements with a mediator.
A mediator is less expensive than even an affordable divorce lawyer.
Split Assets Fairly
Your goal in an affordable divorce is not to involve your lawyer in every moment of the divorce. But it’s difficult to not call on a lawyer when asset division is unfair. A hard pill to swallow is to split your assets as fairly as possible.
This is, perhaps, the hardest part of a divorce besides custody issues.
A person cannot expect to leave their spouse with just a small savings account and get the:
- Retirement savings
This is a recipe for a length divorce. If you’re going to get the house, you need to concede on other points. When both spouses can’t decide on a major asset, such as a house, maybe it’s a good idea to sell the home and split the proceeds.
It’s also unacceptable to be guilted into taking less than you deserve.
Perhaps your wife has been working longer than you and added more to her retirement account than you. Since you feel that she earned the money, it’s plausible that you might agree to take just 40% of the retirement account.
Don’t make this mistake.
If you’re entitled to 50% of an asset, don’t take less than your fair share. Oftentimes, a person who takes less will regret doing so in the future.
Ensure that you know the cost of homeownership when you’re a single person. The average maintenance costs for a home are 1% – 3% annually. Oftentimes, the home is the biggest factor in a divorce, and then a person finds out that they are having trouble keeping up with home costs.
Selling the home as a joint asset may help you avoid some taxes and capital gains which may have been avoided if the asset was sold jointly.
Assets need to be split fairly, but fairly doesn’t mean that you should take less. If needed, consult with a tax professional to ensure that the asset’s value is properly understood.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to cut your divorce costs before hiring an affordable divorce lawyer.