One of the biggest hurdles of the divorce process is the overall cost, a figure that varies drastically from case-to-case.
With attorney fees, court fees, increased living expenses, possible child support or alimony obligations, etc., ending a marriage can quickly become an expensive endeavor, and the financial uncertainty only adds to the challenges you face.
Although you are not able to control every aspect of the divorce, there are steps you can take to reduce the total cost and hopefully avoid piling up unnecessary expenses.
Do the legwork yourself
Minimizing attorney fees is one area in particular that can make a significant difference in the total cost of your divorce, and a simple way you can accomplish this is to help out with preparation whenever possible.
For example, you most likely have the ability to collect financial documents on our own, so why have your attorney do that at a rate of $200+ per hour?
Organization can go a long way when it comes to reducing the amount of work your attorney must perform, so don’t be afraid to ask how you can help to reduce their workload.
Make efficient use of your attorney’s time
Divorce can be a confusing process, which often leads men to seek answers and reassurance by contacting their attorney every time something comes up. However, you need to be aware that responding to every phone call and email will more than likely be billed against your retainer.
To avoid the feeling of being nickeled and dimed, you should save all your questions for one email at the end of the day and be sure all communication with your attorney is truly important.
You may be surprised how often something that feels like an emergency in the moment resolves itself, and simply venting to your attorney about your wife creates an awfully expensive sounding board.
Work to avoid litigation
Although divorce is naturally a contentious process, it is beneficial for both parties to agree on a settlement outside of court for a number of reasons, the first of which is it drastically lowers your attorney fees.
If you can agree on the terms of your divorce outside of the courtroom, your attorney will not have to spend hours preparing your case for trial. This alone can save you thousands and may be worth compromising on certain issues.
As an added bonus, you also have more control over your settlement since there is no guarantee the judge will rule in your favor, making litigation far more of a gamble.
Consider alternative dispute resolution
There are many options available outside the courtroom to help couples overcome the hostility associated with divorce, which can save you money by helping avoid litigation.
Services like mediation and collaborative divorce can help you achieve an agreeable settlement even when you and your spouse are on opposite ends of important issues.
While you will still have to pay for mediation sessions, the cost-saving bonus of resolving disputed issues often far outweighs the mediator’s fees. Even if you are not able to reach a decision on everything, any issue that is decided in mediation is one fewer that needs to be litigated in court.
Don’t fight over the little things
The quicker you can get your divorce over with, the cheaper it will be in the long run. However, many divorcing couples end up getting stuck fighting over minor personal property items.
Dragging out the divorce process because you and your spouse can’t agree on who gets to keep the living room set or Kitchen Aid mixer is a good way to increase the overall cost of your divorce when it stalls mediation or settlement negotiations.
Additionally, the added fees often exceed the cost of the property you’re fighting over, so it’s typically better just to let things go.
Keep your emotions in check
Anger, joy, hurt, resentment and liberation are just a few of the many emotions you will likely feel throughout the divorce process. And while you may experience a sense of relief at times, you must work to minimize the impact negative emotions have on your proceedings.
Taking a stand out of spite because you know it will aggravate your soon-to-be ex may bring a certain level of satisfaction, but in the greater scheme of things, it only serves to create friction that is not conducive to resolving your divorce quickly and efficiently.
The goal should be to reduce hostility whenever possible, and controlling your emotions will help you avoid creating problems that can be avoided.
Many aspects of the divorce process that increase the cost are out of your control; however, there are still steps you can take to reduce the financial burden.
By managing attorney fees, utilizing alternative dispute resolution and negotiating a settlement out of court, you will save a significant amount of time and money on the overall cost of your divorce.
Mat Camp is a former Lexicon Services Online Editor, who focused on providing a comprehensive look into all aspects of the divorce experience. On MensDivorce.com, he concentrated on issues, such as parenting time, custodial rights, mediation, the division of assets, and so much more.
Mr. Camp used the wealth of experience of Cordell & Cordell attorneys to bring tangible answers to reader questions in Ask a Lawyer articles, as well as offer a step by step process through the divorce experience with Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph E. Cordell in Divorce 101: A Guide for Men.
Mr. Camp used thorough research to highlight the challenging reality that those who go through divorce or child custody issues face. He helped foster the continued success of the Men’s Divorce Survival Guide, the Men’s Divorce Podcast, and the Men’s Divorce YouTube series “Attorney Bites.”