Divorce can be very expensive. Not only are you separating households, now working with the same funds but supporting two homes (and two rents/mortgages, two sets of utilities, expenses of duplicate furniture, etc…), but you may be taking time off work (unpaid, of course) for court hearings, spending money on filing fees, and – of course – hiring a lawyer. And lawyers? Can be very expensive.
I do what I can to keep the costs down for my divorcing clients, from offering flexible options for payment (no, not monthly payments but I generally try to “break down” the case into more financially-manageable pieces for the client), family law coaching, and divorce mediation, but the cost is not entirely under my control. What my clients do – or don’t do – essentially drives the path and cost of the divorce. So, regardless of whether you have an attorney or not, here are some ways to keep the costs of your divorce down:
- Manage your emotions. Divorce is incredibly difficult even in the best of circumstances. It is likely that you have some strong emotions around it. But the court and legal process generally will not be concerned about these emotions, and the more you bring them into your divorce, the more you will likely pay. Whether it’s spending excessive time with your attorney discussing the emotional issues or pursuing a losing issue because of an emotional attachment, emotions can bankrupt you when they take center stage in your divorce.
- Get professional help. As a part of managing your emotions, get the support you need for them by finding qualified mental health professionals to help you through it. Your lawyer, your family, and your friends will be a great support during this time, but do not mistake any of them as qualified advice helping you through the roller coaster of emotions in divorce. Find a therapist if you need one.
- Get – and get rid of – qualified professional help when appropriate. Hire professionals who are going to work with you, for you, and who are on the same page as you. If you feel like your lawyer doesn’t care, or is gouging you, or won’t pay attention to you or return your calls, then get rid of him/her. Your divorce is yours, and you should have legal counsel that you feel comfortable with, who understands what is important to you, and who is reasonable and professional about fees. Same with your therapist.
- Play fair. The court and legal process in California has no patience for bids for revenge. Mud-slinging and nasty declarations for the purpose of hurting the other party can not only rebound and hurt you, but can cost you unbelievable amounts of money. They also drag on the process, increase the hostility between you and your spouse, and ultimately hurt your children.