The cost of a divorce/custody matter is entirely based on how reasonable, fair and honest the couple is with each other. If both parties can communicate calmly, not lie about assets or income and not fight about inconsequential things, I can do a divorce for $1,500 and have it finalized in a matter of weeks. Absent such equanimity -and it’s safe to say most divorces are – couples typically spend thousands of dollars and months of legal wrangling to go their separate ways. That’s why during this emotionally tense and often acrimonious life event, it pays to stay calm and be candid about finances.
Here are some key things you can do to make the divorce process easy and affordable for you:
- Maintain control. Though it seems that lawyers are the ones calling the shots when it comes to how much a divorce/custody legal action will cost, couples actually have more control than they think.
- Be Reasonable. A big waste of time and money is when clients insist on fighting over minor, little things because ‘it’s the principle of the matter’ . Being unreasonable only to prove a point will only hurt you financially.
- Consider Mediation. Some couples choose to forgo attorneys in favor of working with a mediator. It’s important to remember that a mediator’s job is to help facilitate communication between both parties so that they can reach an agreement. And while it can be cost effective, (mediators can charge less than half the rate of the average divorce attorney) and save time, using a mediator does not ensure that any agreement reached is fair to both parties. This is something I tell all parties that I see as a family law mediator.
- Fight about minor parenting issues. Yes, it’s important to be a steady presence in the lives of your children throughout everything, but do you really need lawyers to argue on your behalf the exact times for soccer practice drop-offs or the amount of time kids spend with the grandparents? Having lawyers go back and forth negotiating these simple points only adds hours to the process and increases the cost.
- Treat your lawyer like a therapist. Attorneys are paid an hourly rate to handle issues related to your finances and children. They aren’t a sounding board for why your marriage ended. Keep your legal bills from mounting by saving these emotional discussions for close friends or even a therapist. Contact me for a therapist referral, I would be more than happy to connect you with one that fits you the best.
In the end, if the other party is out to get blood, and is not acting reasonable and not being cooperative, no matter what you try to do to keep legal fees down, it will inevitably be an expensive process.