If you get divorced, you’ve been through enough. The last thing you need now is a $ 13,000 bill.
The average divorce in the United States costs a whopping $ 12,900and many cost tens of thousands more.
But a divorce doesn’t have to be financially ruinous. An inexpensive divorce is possible. We spoke to divorce lawyers who shared their advice to keep the price down.
11 Inexpensive Divorce Tips From Lawyers
Use a mediator instead of a lawyer
Most couples hire lawyers immediately when they get divorced, but even controversial divorces don’t necessarily need lawyers, says Dori Shwirtz, a lawyer who practices marriage and divorce mediation at Divorce harmony, a virtual divorce service.
Mediation is a process in which the parties are assisted by a neutral third party who helps the couple reach an out-of-court settlement. “Often the agreement they come to is the same conclusion that is reached after years of attorney-centered struggle in court,” says Shwirtz.
Look for free and discounted programs
If you can’t afford representation, look for free and discounted programs in your community, says Damian Turco, divorce attorney at Turco Legal in Massachusetts.
“There are thousands of not-for-profit legal aid organizations and many attorneys participate in pro bono or fee reduction programs based on income and wealth,” Turco says. Use the Find a lawyer from function JusticeApp, a free mobile app that aggregates resources, programs, and other free tools to help you manage your litigation.
As part of the divorce process, you need to collect financial information. Before starting the mediation, collect copies of the documents you will need Vicki Volper, a family law attorney in Westport, Conn.
This includes tax returns for the past three years; Your last pay slips; recent mortgage statements; Broker and bank statements for each account; Pension and pension statements; Credit card statements if you fail to pay off the cards in full each month; and credit reports for each spouse.
Do your homework
Your mediator has an agenda for each meeting and will likely have work for you outside of the meetings.
“For example, you might be asked to have your home appraised or the value of your car,” says Volper. “Communicate with your spouse. Decide who is responsible for receiving what information between mediation sessions. “
Don’t treat your lawyer like a therapist
If you find that the emotional pain of divorce is affecting your negotiating and compromising skills, an independent psychiatrist can help.
“Don’t run legal bills when you talk to your attorney about your feelings,” says Volper.
Put your questions together
When you have 10 questions to ask your attorney, call once to ask all questions instead of calling 10 times, says Eric Klein, a family law attorney. The same applies to emails. This is because most divorce lawyers charge at least 15 minutes whether you use all of the time or not.
“If the customer follows this simple strategy, they can save thousands of dollars by the end of the case,” says Klein.
Send each document in the correct order
Find a blank page of a bank statement with only one page number? Submit this page to your lawyer along with the others and don’t assume that it isn’t needed as your spouse’s lawyer will insist.
“If the client withholds that one page, they may pay $ 250 in fees to show it to the opposing attorney,” he says. “Providing documents to your attorney in the order they are photocopied can save you additional fees of $ 250 to $ 1,000 for your attorney and trainee attorney to organize the documents.”
be on time
Show up for a hearing five minutes late and the judge may have already started the next case.
“Your case will be moved to the bottom of the list and you may have to wait up to three hours for your case to be heard,” says Klein. “Multiply three hours by the hourly rate of $ 300 an hour and your delay will only cost you $ 1,200 – since you will be billed for the attorney’s waiting time.”
Talk to your lawyer about your budget
“In our practice, when we are aware of our clients’ financial constraints, I often offer opportunities to review records and highlight specific topics, create outlines and schedules, and draft the actual sections of pleadings instead of paying me to do them. Says Kris Balekian Hayes, managing partner of Balekian Hayes, based in Dallas.
Try to agree
Make as many arrangements as you can with your spouse, says Hayes. All legal disputes are expensive, so as few disputes as possible are possible. Try having these difficult conversations with your spouse that can lead to an agreement and save both of your legal fees, she says.
While you may love your coffee table, it might cost you $ 1,000 to fight your spouse for it – or $ 150 to just replace it.
“Throwing good money at bad is easy when you are emotionally charged, so try your best to make real estate decisions as sensibly as you can as most things can be substituted for,” says Hayes.
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com