7 Steps to Save Money During a Divorce
Do you want to save money during a divorce?
I have never met someone going through a divorce who doesn’t want to do this. Why?
A divorce can cost upwards $10,000, and that’s with only minimal litigation.
Maybe you are saying to yourself, “We have little to no equity in our house, a couple of children and a few credit card payments to divide. We want 50/50 custody. Both of us want a fair split.”
Even with a lawyer only protecting your rights and making sure the child support calculations are correct, the cost can still bury you in debt and disrupt your new life, because these things take negotiation and time. During divorce, a lawyer’s time = money.
Trust me, even with the simplest issues at hand, you are going to want to save money during your divorce.
Are you now saying to yourself, “we don’t need lawyers”?
Don’t get me started on the risks of NOT using a lawyer. That can be a financial nightmare for years to come. My simple advice on this subject is to always have a lawyer at least review your paperwork and double check your numbers. Forgetting even one issue can be disastrous. Keep in mind, though, there are ways to have a lawyer and still save money during a divorce.
Here are our 7 Steps to Save Money During a Divorce which start during your consultation with your potential attorney:
1. Get the most out of your attorney consultation. A free consultation may not always be the best option. You get what you pay for. Oftentimes when it’s a freebie, you may not even be meeting with an attorney, so your legal questions cannot and will not be answered. If you are meeting with an attorney, the attorney may not want to tip his or her hand, so he or she may not provide information on the types of strategies for you to consider.
2. Know the terms of the consultation. If there is a written consultation policy, read it. Understand what you reading (and signing). How long will the consult last? How much will it cost? Will the attorney answer your questions or only quote you a retainer fee? Will the attorney run any numbers for you?
It is unlikely there is any consultation policy that is meant to take advantage of you. However, you can only know what to expect of the consult by fully understanding the terms beforehand.
Not knowing what to foresee from the consult could leave you feeling cheated or like your questions were not answered. Take responsibility for making sure the communication is what you want it to be. Be clear on what you can expect to get out of your consult.
3. Take all pertinent paperwork with you. If you do get to meet with a lawyer during your consultation, make sure to set aside enough time to have her or him look at your paperwork and answer any questions you may have about it. Having this paperwork will allow the attorney to start formulating a case strategy and set a sufficient retainer amount.
4. Be on time for your consultation. If you can’t make it on time or need to reschedule, call as soon as you know. This could set the tone for your relationship with your new legal team.
5. When you do consult with your attorney, try to leave extreme emotions at home. This won’t be easy because you’ll be forced to talk about your situation. Some emotion will surface, and that is expected. However, if you want to get the most out of your consultation, try to stick to the relevant facts of your case as much as possible. It is important for you to communicate what is happening in your life, but you want to balance that against letting the attorney talk and give you his or her feedback on your case.
6. While at the attorney’s office, look around. Is the place a mess? Are ringing phones going unanswered? Are you being forced to wait way past your scheduled time? This might be a peek into what you might expect from this firm. You have to consider whether the office staff will answer the phone when you call and will return e-mails in a timely manner. Will your paperwork get lost in the stacks of paper already there? The office atmosphere may or may not be an indicator of the service you can expect, but why take that chance?
7. Ask questions to determine what values your attorney possesses. This will help you determine whether your lawyer is more likely than not to be on the same page regarding your priorities. For example, what is more important to you: possessions vs. child custody? While an attorney may feel certain things are important matters, you may not agree. Ask questions and communicate your expectations so your attorney won’t waste time on something you could care less about.
Your first experience with your potential legal team will tell you a lot about what to expect. The biggest waste of money would be to having to change legal representation in the middle of your case. You should like your attorney: you will be spending time with him or her for the next several months.
If you do, you are guaranteed to save money during your divorce.