If you’re worried about how much a divorce may cost, you’re not alone. Divorce can be expensive, but the good news is there are actions you can take that will help minimize legal fees.
- Do your homework
Start by interviewing lawyers, and make sure you are comfortable with their hourly rates. Many family lawyers offer discount consultations, and they should be upfront about their rate, and the billing process.
Experienced lawyers will charge more, but it may not be in your best interest to hire the most expensive lawyer you can find if your case is not complex. If your case is straightforward, you may be able to retain legal counsel for a flat rate.
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- Hire a family lawyer that is willing to resolve issues out of court
It is not always possible for divorcing couples to avoid court. But most family lawyers will do all they can to keep their clients out of court. Why? Court is where costs can really add up. Furthermore, this experience can put a lot of emotion strain on the parties involved, and the children, if there are any.
- Keep expectations realistic
If you expect to get everything you want, you’re going to be disappointed. There is a very strong change that your ex is not going to agree to end the relationship on all of your terms and conditions. A skilled family lawyer can help you identify what is worth pursuing, and when you may have to negotiate.
- Take deadlines seriously
If you’re proceeding with a divorce, you will be asked to organize and submit a variety of documents, including your marriage certificate, financial statements, and income tax returns, to your lawyer or law clerk. Proving them with the correct information, in a time manner, will ensure they do not have to do extra work, or send you additional reminders. As a result, they won’t have to bill you for that work.
If you do have questions about the information you need to provide, try to send them all in one email so that you are not having extended conversations.
- Consider mediation
Hiring another professional may sound costly, but mediators can save you money and time in the long run. Unlike family lawyers, you and your ex will share the mediator. Furthermore, both of you have shared control over the outcome of any resolutions made through mediation. You may not solve all of your issues through mediation, but resolving even some of those issues on your own terms leaves is an excellent alternative to having a judge make those decisions for you.
- Look for solutions, not fights
Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make is using your divorce to get revenge on your ex. This is not only costly, but counterproductive to your case. You don’t have to be friends, but if you and your ex can keep anger and resentment to a minimum, and work collaboratively instead of working against each other, you will have a much happier (and affordable) end result.
- Don’t use your lawyer as your therapist
Divorce is an emotional event, and many people find it helpful to work through their feelings with a counsellor or therapist. Family lawyers are humans too, and they will lend a sympathetic ear, but don’t make a habit of using your lawyer as a therapist. Lawyers do charge based on time, and their time is best spent working on resolving your case and providing you with legal guidance.