Lately, when you watch or read the news a lot of what you see is discussion of how the economy is not rebounding as most hoped it would, or at least not as quickly as many predicted. Friends are worried about keeping their jobs. The housing market is not where it once was. Yet taxes and utilities keep rising.
Given all of the above, if you are facing the decision to file for divorce, the process and cost of divorce is very likely at the forefront of your mind. We have had many clients come in and confide that, quite frankly, they want to be divorced and they feel it is best for their family but they are worried that they cannot afford the cost of the process.
Some of them even begin the legal divorce process on their own, and end up hiring an attorney to right the ship, which can also drive the costs of divorce up.
My advice is, first, not to handle your divorce yourself, especially if there are children involved. The paperwork that finalizes your divorce will include custody and parentage provisions that will be in place until your child is eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever happens later. For many families, that is quite a long time and you need to ensure that your parenting provisions are complete, unambiguous and that they reflect the best interests of your children. And without the specialized advice of a family law attorney, that often is not possible and it is not an easy task to accomplish.
If your divorce does not involve children, be aware that your property settlement cannot be modified at a later date. With very few exceptions, you get one shot at getting what you want.
Tips for Keeping the Cost of Divorce Low.
So you’ve decided you need an attorney. You have found one that you feel is a good fit, and one that makes you feel comfortable. So how do you keep the divorce costs down? One of your first steps is COMMUNICATION. Clearly communicate your needs to your attorney and make it evident what you want to accomplish from your case. Try not to use your divorce attorney as your therapist; while it is oftentimes not easy to distinguish between the two, I can bet that your divorce attorney charges more per hour than your therapist!
Also – ask questions. You are not a divorce attorney and you are not expected to know the process. That is our job. Ask if some aspects of your case can be handled by a paralegal or another attorney that bills at a lower rate. If a large part of your case involves the exchange of financial information (called discovery), try to keep your materials as organized as possible, make spreadsheets, and maybe even consider making copies of the documents for your counsel. All of this in the end saves YOU money.
It’s also imperative that you listen to the advice that your attorney gives you. At PUCC I | PIRTLE, we are not here to needlessly increase the costs of your divorce. We give you advice on how to best handle your case – in the most expeditious and cost-effective manner to achieve the results you deserve. So be sure to listen – because we will tell you how to best protect your assets and how to ensure that your marital estate is not spent on divorce fees and costs.
And finally, make sure to keep your expectations reasonable. The best way to do so is, again, to ask questions. If we are advised of your assets and the custodial status quo, we can give you a reasonable expectation of an outcome. We will not set your expectations so high that they cannot be met by agreement of the parties or by litigation and a trial; that does not benefit you in any way, and ultimately it does not benefit us as your attorneys.
You know what is best for your family; if you believe divorce is what is needed to move your family unit in the right direction, do not be afraid of the cost of the divorce process. You can keep costs down by choosing the right attorney and being informed through the process today.
Call us today to make an appointment for a free consultation with a divorce attorney.