When you are approaching or going through a divorce or separation, it’s only natural to become concerned about the costs of the process. At this point, it’s likely that two households are now being supported by the same level of income that previously was only covering one, and finances can be very tight very quickly.
Fortunately, you and your spouse can take some steps to help keep all the costs down while still resolving all the matters involved in your case.
Keep Communication Up
In many cases, court costs skyrocket because spouses can’t communicate with each other. Instead, they go right for the court route, filing motions and bringing in all the filing fees, legal fees, and expert fees that path can entail. If the spouses and their attorneys had tried to resolve the issue or issues at hand before going to court to get a decision, they could have avoided those extra costs and made an agreement they could live with on their own instead.
While a court motion is sometimes necessary, it’s not always the way to go. Many divorce cases are handled without any motion ever being filed. If you are worried about your divorce costs, it’s important to try to resolve issues without having to go to court.
In addition, you should always weigh whether an expert is actually necessary in your case. For example, if your spouse runs their own business, you may want to hire someone to value it. However, before you do so, you should take a closer look at the financial documents given to your attorney at the onset of the case. If your spouse’s financial information seems to really correlate to what you had access to during your marriage, it may make sense to hold onto the funds you would have spent on the business expert instead.
Be Mindful When Interacting With Your Attorney and Their Staff
Each law firm’s retainer agreement will vary, but one thing will likely be the same: you’ll be billed for the time that staff and the attorneys put into your case. It’s vital to keep this in mind as it’s an area where many people tend to run up costs. If you need to ask your attorney a question or send them documents, you may want to wait until you have more than one question or issue unless it is an emergency. While your attorney will spend a bit more time on a longer email, it may prove to be more cost-effective than sending a bunch of smaller emails. Of course, you don’t want to be so conservative that your attorney is missing information; simply keep straight to the point.
Complete All Paperwork
You’ll likely be asked to complete a lot of paperwork related to your case. Discovery–during which you and your spouse exchange important documents about finances and other matters–is a very in-depth exchange where you will easily have to answer more than 100 questions on paper. It’s in your best interest to fill out the paperwork completely the first time, every time, for both your case and your legal bill.
If your attorney or their staff has to keep asking you for more information, it will boost your bill. You are the only person who can answer these questions, so it falls on you to answer completely. Be proactive in your own divorce by always providing as much information as you can.
An attorney consultation will provide you more than info about your case and the costs involved. Also, gauge your comfortableness with the attorney. In a matter as sensitive as divorce, you will want someone you feel comfortable with and can trust.