Divorce is expensive. Just like construction, divorce always takes longer and costs more than you think it will. While there is no way to completely avoid the expense of divorce, there are a few simple things you can do to help keep your divorce legal fees low. Here are:
3 Tips to Help You Keep Your Divorce Legal Fees Low
1. Tip #1: Get organized.
In order to give you legal advice that is appropriate for your situation, your lawyer is going to need to see your financial information. If it takes you months to put your documents together, and then you dump them in a disorganized mess on your lawyer’s desk, your lawyer is going to have to spend time putting those documents together properly. That will cost you money.
If you want to keep your divorce legal fees low, make copies of all of your financial documents for your lawyer. Group the documents by type (that is, keep all of your checking account statements together, all of your paycheck stubs together etc.) and put each group of documents in chronological order.
If you really want to save money, make your own spread sheet with all of your income and expenses on it. Make another one with all of your assets and debts on it.
The more organized you are, the less work your attorney will have to do to understand and analyze your financial situation. That can translate into big savings for you.
2. Tips #2: Do your homework … on time!
The more legwork you can do in your own case, the less work your lawyer has to do. While you can’t draft legal documents, you can gather and organize your own financial documents. You can make your own budget and balance sheet. You can also prepare the first draft of your own financial disclosure statement.
(NOTE: A financial disclosure form of some sort is generally required in any contested divorce case. What that document is called will vary depending upon the county and state you are located in.)
If you want to keep your divorce legal fees low, you also have to make sure that you respond to your lawyer in a timely way. Every time your lawyer has to call, write, or email you asking you to finish these documents, it costs you money. Every time your lawyer has to go to court to report to the judge that s/he doesn’t have all of the paperwork done yet, but that “you are working on it,” it costs you money.
The more prompt you are, the more you will save in legal fees.
3. Tips #3: Only use your lawyer to answer legal questions.
Your lawyer is not your therapist, or your coach. Your lawyer is not qualified to diagnose your spouse’s mental health issues, nor is your lawyer able to tell you why you married such a crazy person. Your lawyer is probably not an expert in children’s developmental issues either. If you hare having problems with your kids, or you want to vent about your spouse, you would be much better off finding a good therapist or a good friend to talk to.
What’s more, time is money. Your lawyer is probably the most expensive divorce professional you have hired. If you use your lawyer to answer your legal questions, and save your emotional issues for your therapist, that will definitely help to keep your legal fees low.