Divorce isn’t a topic most couples like to talk about, especially since it involves a wide range of feelings, but it’s important to be objective. If you and your spouse have tried everything, but just can’t seem to make your marriage work, going your separate ways may be the best option for both of you. Eventually, you’re both going to be happ…ier, and although the effects on any children you may have are likely to be major, they’re ultimately going to be better off as well. Apart from the emotional strains of a divorce, there are also financial issues to consider. If divorce is on the horizon for you, read on to learn how to reduce the overall expenses of this difficult and tenuous period in your life.
1. Get a Good Lawyer
While your first impulse may be to go out and hire a top lawyer to get every penny you can from your spouse, that’s probably not the best route to take. The priciest lawyers can cost as much as $500 per billable hour. Instead, let your emotions cool off and find an affordable attorney who you feel comfortable with and one you trust. Your friend’s “killer” lawyer may not be a comfortable fit for you and your situation. Also be certain that your attorney works in family law.
2. Keep Negotiations Amicable
If your divorce is uncontested, billable hours are going to be greatly lower, saving you substantial money on attorney’s fees. If possible, meet with your spouse to discuss if there are any matters where you and your spouse can reach an agreement on (dividing personal property/furniture, or perhaps creating a parenting schedule). Update your lawyers on the results of those conversations, so they can provide more direction.
3. Disclosure All Income and Assets
This may not save you money initially, but can help you stay out of the judge’s way, who can impose serious fines and penalties if you try to hide income or assets. No reputable lawyer is ever going to suggest that you conceal information, and it’s simply not a good strategy to undertake. By being honest in your financial reporting to the court, you’re going to be much better off in the end.
4. Work Efficiently with Your Lawyer
Once you retain a lawyer, ask for a complete list of all documents and any other information you’re going to need for your initial consultation or the following meeting. This will not only save you money, but it will also keep your case moving forward, avoiding any unnecessary delays. Throughout the whole process, remember to always keep your lawyer in the loop, ask relevant questions, be prepared for all meetings, and—most importantly–use your time with him/her efficiently.
5. Check your Bills
Has there been some over-spending after you separated from your spouse? Is your spouse generating expenses which should not be your responsibility? Your bills are very telling about your and your spouse’s expenses and lifestyle. The bills will help you understand what you might need to cut back on if separation and divorce do not leave you with enough income to cover every expense. They will also show you your spouse’s expenditures, some of which might be difficult to justify as reasonable expenses going forward.
Once the agreement is reached, signed and entered as an official final court order, make sure you live up to it. Being late with child support or spousal support payments will also cost you more attorney fees when your ex takes you back to court. If you agree to make payments on the 1st or the 10th of each month, then do so. The sooner you and your ex can create a stable, amicable post-marriage relationship, the better off both of you, and your children, will be.