Tips to Lower The Cost of Divorce
Divorce is always costly, no matter what anyone tells you. Moreover, it is almost impossible to predict how much you it will cost you by the end of it. But this does not mean that you cannot take steps to reduce your overall divorce costs and keep things within budget.
Improve Your Learning Curve
To begin with, learn about divorce laws and other family law matters in California as much as you can. The more aware you are, the less money you will end up paying your divorce lawyer to explain you every minor detail or to help you wriggle out of a self-created mess, which occurred because you did not know the law.
To obtain some basic information about the local rules and regulations related to divorce in Orange County, you could find reliable online resources through Google, check out the law section of your local library, or simply visit your divorce attorney’s website and blog.
You may also participate in internet discussion groups where lawyers answer questions for free, review some relevant cases from the family courts in Orange County, and make use of free online calculators to get an idea of child support payments. Your knowledge will make you more effective in your negotiations with your ex as well as make your interactions with your attorney more productive.
Avoid Litigation as far as Possible
Maintain a calm and objective approach throughout your divorce negotiations, and keep a clear goal to litigate only if all other options have been exhausted. Negotiations, settlement conferences, mediation and collaborative divorce are approaches that can help you achieve your goals from your divorce at a lower cost compared to litigation.
In the court, nobody really wins and it is usually lose-lose situation for both sides. A committed Orange County attorney will do everything possible to resolve your case without the court’s intervention. However, if your ex is determined to prolong the fight despite your best efforts, you may have to finally resort to a court-directed resolution of your divorce and related matters.
Put Your Financial Records in Order
Except for the sensitive issue of child custody, divorce is largely a financial transaction. If you are meticulous about putting your financial records in order, your divorce attorney will have to invest very little of their time on this task, and you will be able to save on the costs.
In many cases, the financial records are so convoluted, misplaced or missing that the attorney may end up spending much of their precious time on comprehending your true financial position and organizing your papers. Be thorough about collecting and maintaining your investment, banking and tax records so that your financial interests are fully protected and you don’t end up spending too much on that account.
A knowledgeable divorce lawyer will help you by listing out the financial documents they require from you. It may include your recent bank statements, vehicle loan or mortgage statements, credit card statements, three latest pay stubs, tax return copies of last three years, statements of your retirement accounts and investments, and copies of property deeds and titles. Digital documentation may cheaper than paper documents to process for your attorney.
Use Email as the Primary Communication
Phone calls may be convenient for you, but they will often take a lot more time of your lawyer and end up accomplishing little. Be conscious about utilizing your attorney’s time judiciously. A dedicated divorce lawyer in Orange County may encourage you to use email as the primary mode of communication. This will force you to be concise and clear, and you will restrict yourself to the relevant, objective issues.
Time is money so far as your attorney is concerned. Therefore, you need to make the best use of this valuable resource called time. It is not necessary to copy your lawyer on every message that you exchange with your spouse, and avoid the temptation of giving vent to your frustration and sharing other emotional issues with your attorney.
If a phone call to your attorney is unavoidable, make it a scheduled call always. This will give time to both of you to be well-prepared for the conversation and discuss the issues in a focused manner. Keep a pen and paper ready whenever you are on phone with your lawyer, so that you can take notes. The next time you need to recall a point, you can refer back to those notes rather than calling your attorney again for the same thing.
Simplify the Division of Retirement Accounts
One of the expensive items in your divorce process can be the division of retirement funds. Your divorce attorney will be required to draft a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) for this purpose. However, if you can convince your former spouse to an approximately equal division (“I keep my retirement funds, and you keep yours”), you can save on costs.
But if the other side is not agreeable to this idea, you may also consider the option of swapping other assets rather than utilizing a QDRO. For example: one party could keep the stocks and bonds, while the other could keep their retirement investments. Another alternative approach to avoiding a QDRO is that you can roll over your 401k accounts into IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts). The division of IRAs can be done without a QDRO.
Split Household Stuff Mutually with Your Ex
If your marriage lasted for a number of years, chances are you and your ex spouse would have plenty of household items to divide. If both of you can mutually agree on who gets what, you can relieve your attorneys from this task and save on your costs. Your divorce attorney should be the one giving you advice on how you should divide the dishes, rugs and furnishings.
Don’t forget that when former spouses squabble over petty things such as a table clock, it is usually not about the clock. All kinds of memories and emotions are behind that object. If you can clear your head about these emotional aspects and deal with issues objectively, it may be possible to resolve small item divisions rather than having to pay your attorney to do the hard negotiation on your behalf.
Reliable Divorce Lawyers will Help You Lower Your Costs
Attorneys with a high level of integrity who put their client’s interests above everything else will do everything to help you keep your divorce costs down. They will have the skills and knowledge to make swift and effective negotiations with the other side to resolve issues faster. At the same time, they will inform you about your rights, help you make the right decisions, and ensure that you do not make any costly mistakes at any step during the divorce process.
Therefore, your goal should be to choose a dependable and trusted divorce lawyer in Orange County rather than a low cost lawyer. With a dedicated lawyer, you will know upfront how your divorce case is likely to proceed, and have a realistic estimate of what it might cost you to achieve all your goals from the divorce.
Your attorney will help you remove emotions from the equation, and arrive a fair settlement with the other party early on in the process. They will take your case to trial only if the situation becomes desperate. That’s the way you can save real money in your divorce rather than trying to work with a low cost lawyer in the hope of saving on fees.