When it comes to taking that first step toward a divorce, the first thought of many people is “How can I possibly afford to pay for a divorce?” In reality, many people can’t simply “afford” to get divorced. This usually isn’t something people budget for. Regardless, many people still manage to get divorced every year because it is a necessary move. You simply cannot worry about how you are going to pay for all of your divorce without knowing what “all” really means. It’s very easy to overthink in this situation, especially when you don’t have all the answers yet.
One key area of cost concern you may have is an attorney. Many people make the mistake of thinking they can’t afford an attorney and therefore cannot use one for their divorce. This type of thinking can come with a steep price. Whether it’s being on the receiving end of an unfair settlement or making mistakes with paperwork that cost you money and time, not having an attorney by your side can really add to your stress level and overall expenses. As you consider whether to hire an attorney for your divorce, here’s what to keep in mind.
Do Your Research
Research, ask around and interview until you find the right attorney for your divorce. Take your time to find the right person. Look at reviews, speak to trusted colleagues and friends, and look around. Take notes at your consultations. You will likely know when you find the right person, and that doesn’t have to be the first attorney you meet with.
Understand the Costs
Make sure you receive an explanation, in writing, of how you will be charged and for what. It can seem overwhelming to receive a fee schedule when you are worried about costs, but you must know what you will likely end up paying so you can budget accordingly. No honest attorney will refuse to explain their fee structures to you. If you feel like the attorney is being evasive when it comes to what they charge, it’s time to move on to the next name on your list.
Handle the Retainer
Once you decide you have found the right attorney, pay the retainer. This is a lump sum that the attorney will ask for up front to cover the initial expenses. It is also refundable and often negotiable. Retainers vary based on many factors, including the attorney’s location. When you are shopping around, ask what the retainer will cover and how it would be reimbursed should the need arise. Don’t be afraid to express concerns, ask questions and even share disapproval. Remember that the attorney is working for and being paid by you, and they need clients to stay in business. They are also in a business to make money, so keep that in mind as well.
Ask Any Questions You Have
If something seems off or you are confused about all or part of the process, don’t be afraid to ask for answers and explanations you can understand. Call the attorney’s office or send a text or email about your concerns or questions. Unless you are contacting the attorney nonstop every day, you are not “bothering” them. They understand that their clients have questions and expect to give answers and explanations during the divorce process.
Above all else, trust in yourself that you are making the right decision. Even if you are worried about money or how things will go, you need to know that you will be okay and that you are making a wise move.