If you’re considering divorce, one of the first questions you might ask is “how much does a divorce cost?” The answer to that question is, of course, “it depends,” because there are several factors that contribute to the overall cost of a divorce.
Regardless of how large or small your estate is, the costs of divorce litigation can really add up each month, so first and foremost it’s important for you to work with a divorce attorney that will be open with you about what you can expect based on your unique circumstances. There aren’t very many law firms that are willing to tell you how you can save money during your divorce.
The keys to paying less for your divorce are simple:
- Find an attorney that believes in reducing conflict during your divorce, and remember that reducing conflict doesn’t equate to weakness
- Remember that although divorce lawyers have worked with a lot of couples through divorce and family law issues, lawyers aren’t therapists
- Understand that there are limits to what your lawyer can do for you
- Be highly organized
Reducing Conflict During Divorce
Attorneys make a living by charging you hourly for their counsel and services, so the more you fight, the more expensive divorce can be. In some practices, attorneys operate like technicians focusing solely on “winning” the case, so make sure you always understand what your lawyer is doing and why. Ask about the alternatives, and try to choose the least aggressive path. “Winning” can be expensive and often doesn’t lead to a better result in the end
A good divorce attorney should look beyond the technicalities and help you focus on your long-term financial goals and your family’s well-being after divorce. Your divorce attorney should help you understand steps that can be taken to mitigate conflict between you and your spouse. There are divorce law firms that know how to significantly reduce conflict. The lower your conflict, the lower your legal fees will be.
Find a Therapist or Supportive Sounding Board
Your attorney will need to know the important details about your relationship history and your children, and good attorneys are often good counselors. However, attorneys can’t help you resolve emotional and psychological problems. An attorney can help you develop a reasonable path for resolving issues and guide you through gathering important information, but an attorney can’t make all of your problems go away. You still need to live your life and you may need emotional support to do that.
Before calling an attorney, talk with a therapist or a trusted friend about your concerns and feelings, and then write down a list of legal questions you may have for your attorney. As a result, meetings with your attorney will be more concise. Sometimes it’s more efficient if you email a list of concerns to your attorney between your meetings. In order to write your concerns down, you’ll be forced to think through them carefully, which can often lead to reduced legal fees. If your attorney thinks something is particularly important and needs attention, he or she should call you and talk about it.
Remember that Your Lawyer Can’t Change Your Spouse
Your divorce lawyer can’t change your spouse’s behavior or make your spouse stop talking bad about you to your kids. An attorney can obtain a restraining order, but he or she can’t force your spouse to comply. Your attorney can’t make your spouse get a job, bring your children home on time, etc.
Every time you consider calling your attorney about an issue with your spouse, ask yourself if there is a legal solution to the problem, or if you’re asking your lawyer to do something he or she can’t really do. Lawyers can’t make other people do anything – they can only obtain court relief.
Be Organized During Your Divorce
Being organized helps your attorney work faster. The more organized you are, the more you can help your attorney and the less your attorney fees will be. Ask your divorce attorney for a checklist so you know what you should collect and organize, such as:
- IRS returns
- Bank statements
- Proof of business income
- Profit and loss statements, etc
You can find a financial checklist here: Meridian Family Law Financial Checklist
Provide everything your attorney has requested ahead of the deadline so your attorney doesn’t have to hurriedly organize everything before a court deadline. Scrambling at the last minute usually means more people have to help, which increases legal fees.
Court deadlines are hard set and the required pleadings need to be filed in a timely manner or they won’t be considered. Make sure you’re available when your attorney needs you to review materials.
Also, instead of calling your attorney every day to ask questions, keep a list of your questions throughout the week so you can ask all of them at once. Scheduling a phone call once a week is much more efficient and less expensive than calling your attorney daily.
Are you looking for a divorce lawyer in Seattle?
The attorneys at Meridian Family Law handle divorce and family law matters in King, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties. We strive to reduce conflict with a holistic approach to divorce, bringing together best practices from law, mediation training, collaborative law, child development, and conflict management. Our approach often reduces the cost of divorce for our clients. Learn more by visiting our How We Work page, or call 206-569-5346 to schedule a consultation with a Seattle divorce attorney.