The costs and time associated with a divorce vary tremendously depending on the extenuating circumstances of each individual case; however, there are some fairly simple guidelines you can follow that could help reduce the financial burden and time spent in court.
Below are just a few tips from divorce attorneys on how to avoid common mistakes frequently made by clients:
Obtain financial records and maintain accurate accounts
Do not make your attorney obtain the information and do not simply guess. It will be much cheaper to have all your information available and organized when your lawyer asks for it. Making speculations that are inexact can also cause a mess down the line.
Be honest with your attorney
It is hard to stress this fact enough, but full disclosure no matter what is a necessity during divorce. Surprises that pop up can drag out the proceeding instead of letting your attorney prepare for them.
Follow your attorney’s instructions and advice
Your attorney is the subject-matter expert when it comes to divorce, and their intention is always moving toward your goals. If you deviate from their recommendations, it can create complications that will end up costing you more.
On that note, never take legal advice from your soon-to-be ex and be cautious about acting on advice from any other third party
It might seem obvious, but your spouse going to be opposing you in court and therefore is not a reliable source of legal counsel. Additionally, even advice from friends who have gone through divorce should be considered carefully. All divorces have differing circumstances, so it is best to check with your attorney if anything you hear is applicable to your case.
Always get back to your attorney in a timely manner if they attempt to contact you
Your attorney is contacting you for the purpose of forwarding the divorce, and withholding communication can tie your attorney’s hands. With some vital aspects of the case, any sort of delay can end up costing you more in the long run.
Ask questions any time you are not clear what to do
Divorce can be complicated, particularly for first-timers. Never feel embarrassed to ask for clarification if you do not understand what needs to be done or the reason behind it. Your attorney should always be willing to break complex legal matters down so you can understand it.
Maintain a journal of interactions with the opposing party and a placement calendar if children are involved
Organized documentation of any pertinent information allows you to make efficient use of your time when it comes to describing potentially relevant situations to your attorney.
Choose your battles
What may seem like a big deal to you at the time could end up costing much more if the courts disagree on the severity of the claims. Don’t let emotions drive you to make frivolous claims in the hopes of proving some small point, because litigation fees will often outweigh the off chance of winning your argument.
Prepare for when you have to testify
Certain gestures and actions that occur naturally because you are nervous can come across as “lying” to the judge, such as shifty eyes, looking down or stuttering. Practicing your testimony helps create confidence and adds to your credibility when you keep a level head on the witness stand.
Don’t try to hide any assets, such as the “secret” bank account
Attorneys are better at finding these than people think, and you will spend a lot of time and money trying to explain why hid the asset. Additionally, you could end up forfeiting all of it due to your “bad-faith conduct” instead of the standard one-half split.