Some Keys To A Financially Smart Divorce

on Aug 10, 2017 in Divorce

Divorces are expensive.  Division of property, child support payments, alimony payments and attorney fees are some of the expenses in a divorce.  Below are some steps minimizing those expenses.

Be Prepared and Organized

Attorneys need information and documentation to prepare your divorce.  Gather all information and documents on your own, without the help of your attorney.  When your attorney asks for something, provide it as soon as possible.  As a general rule, if an attorney asks for something, it’s because they need it to represent your best interests.

Documentation required often includes: bank accounts (checking and savings), retirement accounts, vehicle titles, property deeds, and investment accounts.

Tracking down documents does not require a law degree or other legal training.  Doing as much as possible on your own saves your attorney time and saves you money.  Obtaining documentation in the possession of the other party requires action from your attorney.

Hire an Experienced Divorce Attorney

Attorneys are expensive.  However, the cost of an attorney is a short term, immediate cost.  The mistake of representing yourself is an expensive, ongoing, long term cost.  Do not rely on your soon to be ex-spouse’s attorney.  That attorney represents your spouse, not you.  Even if that attorney is respectful and “seems nice,” he or she does not have your best interests in mind.

An experienced divorce attorney costs more on an hourly basis.  However, an experienced attorney will be more efficient and more effective.  This results in a better outcome and reduces the cost of your divorce in the long term.

Hire an attorney you get along with.  You are not trying to find a new friend, but you will be spending a significant amount of time with your attorney, on the phone, in the office, and in court.  It helps to work with someone you like.

Communicate Efficiently

Divorce attorneys bill by the hour.  Every time you call, email or text your attorney, it is costing you money.  Do not pick up your phone whenever a thought pops into your head.  Instead, think about the issue.  Is this actually urgent or can it wait?  What information do you need on this issue?  Consider contacting your attorney when you have multiple matters to discuss.  Have all the information you need to discuss an issue with your attorney.  Some issues may be appropriate for your attorney’s staff.  Contact them first.

Following these tips reduces the number of calls and emails to your attorney.  It will also make the contacts you have much more efficient.  This saves money on attorney fees.

Decide What Is Really Important To You

Your attorney will represent your interests.  However, she can only do so if you can communicate what you want and how important the issues are.  Do you want custody of your children?  Do you want the family home?  Do you want to preserve your retirement benefits?  Obviously, every party in a divorce has a list of wants.  Also obviously, you will not get everything.  It is important to decide what your priorities are and communicate those to your attorney.  Your attorney can then spend his or her time and energy — and your costs — on those issues.

Negotiate and Do Not Fight About Everything

Fighting about an issue takes your attorney time and therefore costs you money.  Fighting will often not get you the result you want.  Instead, empower your attorney to negotiate on your behalf.  Many issues in a divorce are resolved by a conversation between the attorneys.  Frequently, one thing is most important to one spouse and something else will be most important to the other spouse.  Trade offs allow both parties to get what they want most.  Remember, when the parties cannot resolve an issue, the court will.  A negotiated settlement is the only way to achieve certainty.

Use Mediation or a Consider a Collaborative Law Divorce

Alternative dispute resolution can be used to help resolve disputed issues.  In a mediation, the third party mediator meets with the parties and their attorneys, and then goes back and forth, suggesting likely outcomes and possible resolutions.  In a collaborative law divorce, the parties work together to achieve a divorce that best meets the needs of the parties, with particular attention paid to the needs of the children.

Anything that can be done to achieve a negotiated settlement will save money and reduce uncertainty.

Remember the Children

The parties in a divorce must place the needs of the children ahead of their own wants and perceived needs.  Following the needs of your children will also ultimately bring you happiness.  Happy, healthy children are most important for parents.  Do not focus so much on petty battles with your spouse to the detriment of your children.  Ultimately, if both parties focus on the best interests of the children, it will save them money in both the short and long term.

Be Honest With Your Attorney

Provide your attorney with complete and accurate information.  He or she must have all of the facts, even if a particular fact seems bad to you.  Often, the facts you are worried about are not as bad as you think.  Even if it is, your attorney can deal with a bad fact if he or she knows the truth as soon as possible.  In the long run, honesty saves you money because your attorney is not left scrambling for a solution to a problem he or she was not aware of.   Further, if you are honest with your attorney it will save you money because it will result in a better outcome for you.

Focus on the Long Term Financially

Do not focus on the short term outcome of your divorce.  Look at where an outcome will leave you in five to ten years.  As a result, you will achieve a better settlement for you and your children.  Also, do not ignore your retirement.  It is easy in the short term to sacrifice your retirement account because it seems so distant.  However, this may not be in your best long term financial interests.

If You are Considering Divorce

If you are considering divorce, contact our attorneys at Fait & DiLima.  We specialize in divorce and family law issues.  We are happy to meet with you to discuss your case.  We have offices in Rockville and Fredrick to serve you.


Additional Reading

Divorce: Why You Should Consider Alternatives to Litigation