I am not getting a divorce. In fact, this November, my husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I realize that not all marriages make it to the quarter-century mark and, unfortunately, end in divorce. If this describes you, then you may need information on how to save money on your divorce.
If you’ve ever been through a divorce, you know they can be expensive. That’s why I’ve asked my friend Brette Sember, author of the new book Save Money on Your Divorce: Real Ways to Reduce the Costs, to write a guest post on how to save money on your divorce.
Take it away, Brette.
How to Save Money on Your Divorce
While a divorce may be one of the most difficult and necessary things you ever do, it can also be the most expensive. Divorce turns your finances upside down. Not only are you taking the same total family income that supported one household and suddenly squeezing it to support two, but you’re also facing enormous legal bills. A typical divorce that goes to trial costs tens of thousands of dollars.
Getting out of your marriage does not mean you have to bankrupt yourself though. There are lots of ways to trim big and small legal costs throughout the process, as described in Save Money on Your Divorce: Real Ways to Reduce the Costs. Here are just a few:
Choose a less expensive process
The biggest way to save money is to choose a divorce path that avoids a trial and focuses on settlement. Mediation is the least expensive way to work through a contested divorce, saving you thousands when you and your spouse meet with a mediator who helps you find common ground. Collaborative divorce is also a good option, in which your attorneys work with each other specifically to reach a settlement.
Work with a lower-profile attorney
Lawyers who advertise or are in big firms on the top floor of a skyscraper charge more than those who have a small office and one partner and one secretary. They all have the same degree and often the same level of experience, but the more they spend on their visibility, the more it costs you. Save $50 an hour or more.
The attorney whose office is one block away from the courthouse is going to cost you less than the one who has a 20-minute drive there because lawyers charge you for their travel time to court.
If your case is going to trial, your lawyer may want to schedule a deposition. You and your spouse meet with your lawyers and a court reporter in a conference room and are asked questions under oath. In some cases this can be a way for your lawyer to get important information and prepare for trial but in most cases it’s a waste of time and money. You can fill your lawyer in on all the facts yourself. Save thousands by skipping this.
Organize your financials
Your lawyer has to have a complete picture of what you own and owe. Instead of paying your lawyer or his or her staff to organize this, do it yourself. Gather documentation for everything, organize it, label it, and create a cover sheet that summarizes the contents. You’ll save several hours of work by your lawyer or his staff.
Have a friend serve your ex
To begin the divorce process, you or your ex has to be legally served with the papers. Your lawyer will pay a process server to do this. What most people don’t know is that anyone can serve legal papers if they complete the correct form, so you can ask a friend to do this and save the fee.
Divorce is a big, complex legal process, but there are ways to trim the costs throughout the entire process. Find out more money saving ideas in Save Money on Your Divorce: Real Ways to Reduce the Costs.
Brette Sember is a former divorce and family law attorney and mediator. She is the author of many books about divorce and custody, including How to Win Your Custody Case, The No-Fight Divorce Book and How to Get Custody of Your Dog. She is also the author of several cookbooks, including the money-saving guide Leftover Love: 52 Creative Recipes for Using Your Leftovers.