A divorce may be mentally and emotionally draining for those involved, but the divorce process does not have to drain your finances.
Here are our 10 tips on saving money when divorcing or completing a property settlement.
- Understand your fee agreement. The fee agreement should tell you whether you will be charged for a paralegal or legal assistant’s time, if your lawyer charges for travel, copying, mailing, and so forth. Be clear on what will be charged for during the process and at what rate.
- Be organized. Irrespective of whether you are planning for a meeting, to send an email or making a phone call, ensure your thoughts are co-ordinated. Preparing a list of questions and points that you want to discuss with your lawyer will help you to remain focused and allow you to get to the answers you need in a time-efficient way. By organizing your documents and records in a way that can easily be accessed will reduce time in a meeting or call and can save you time that you may be billed for.
- Fill out your financial disclosure statement. You have more insight into your finances than anyone else, so by filling in the first draft of your financial statement using documents like credit card balances, mortgage statements, and tax returns will significantly reduce the time your lawyer needs to gather information on your behalf.
- Contact paralegals and legal assistants only when appropriate. Legal assistants and paralegals bill at lower rates than your lawyer. If you need answers on administrative issues like an update on your case or a court date, it is more cost-effective for you to contact the paralegal or legal assistant. Not only will it generally be quicker to get an answer but save you being billed by your lawyer at higher rates for a quick question.
- Hire the appropriate professionals. In addition to your lawyer, it may be necessary to hire other professionals. These professionals could include people like accountants and appraisers. The right professional can assist in providing valuations of privately owned businesses, identify assets, value investments, property, and explain the tax implications of different settlement options. Hiring the appropriate professional can save time but more importantly, getting a good evaluation will save you money.
- Take the emotion out of the process. It can be challenging to remove the emotion from your separation; however, it will save you time when you remember that you hired your lawyer to give you legal advice based on the facts of your legal matter. Other professionals can help you with the emotional aspect of what you are going through.
- Reach an agreement on personal property items. When both parties can work together to divide the furniture and personal property it significantly reduces the time your lawyer needs to get involved in with arguments such as who gets a couch. Make a list of the items you want and exchange them with your spouse. If there is an item you both want, consider the cost of the item. It does not make sense to pay each lawyer hundreds of dollars an hour to argue over a couch that is worth $500.
- Consider alternative dispute resolution. Trials are expensive. You can reduce the expense of your case by working with a mediator. Mediation allows both parties to have more control and have a say in the outcome of your divorce. Even if you do not reach an agreement on all the issues, mediation can help narrow and limit the issues for trial. Reaching an agreement is always more cost-effective than litigation.
- Be honest with your lawyer. By being upfront with your lawyer about all the potential issues in your case will allow your lawyer to form an effective plan on how to deal with each issue from the start. Concealing information or assets from your lawyer can be costly to you.
- Review your bills. As with all bills, it is important to review them each month and ensure you understand what was charged for and ask questions immediately and not at the end of the case.
Shanahan Family Law offers a flat-rate service as well as a complimentary consultation upfront to assess your situation. Book a time with our expert team today.