How to Divorce without Breaking the Bank
Nothing is free in life, and this is also true of divorce. Unfortunately, many couples have heard nightmare stories of men and women forced into bankruptcy in order to dissolve their marriages. Does this fate await you?
The answer is a resounding “No,” but that doesn’t mean that getting divorced cheaply is easy. Below, we offer some tips for how to go about getting divorced in a way that makes sense financially.
Compromise where Possible
There are many expenses associated with divorce, including the sudden need to establish a second home and to live on only one income. However, divorce has another expense: attorneys’ fees. Lawyers charge for the work they do, but you can minimize the expense.
How? Reach agreement on as many issues as possible with your spouse. Do you need to fight over child custody? Devising a custody arrangement voluntarily can save time and money. Is it vital that you fight over who gets the marital home? You can agree to sell it and split the proceeds.
When couples reach agreement, they are often much more satisfied with their divorce, and there are strategies for making this possible. For example, you might participate in mediation, which can help couples find common ground. Of course, mediation also costs money, but it can be cheaper in the long run than fighting an issue by going to court.
To properly represent you, an attorney needs to see a lot of financial documents including tax information, property deeds, etc. Talk to your attorney ahead of time and get everything in order for her to look at. Doing this yourself is better than paying your attorney to organize the paperwork.
Think about the Kind of Divorce You Want
Changing a divorce strategy midstream is costly and time-consuming. Clients can save money by thinking hard about what they want from the divorce upfront.
Often, clients are swayed by their emotions, in particular a desire to strike back at a spouse. If they find out their husband wants to keep a vacation property in the divorce settlement, suddenly they want the summer property, also. What they really want is to fight. But fighting is expensive. Manage your emotions to streamline the divorce process.
Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have
Some people wrongly assume they will be getting certain marital assets in a divorce and begin spending them before they have a divorce decree in hand. It is always possible to get less than hoped in terms of marital property, so live as frugally as possible.
Seek Financial Support from Your Spouse
Pennsylvania law allows men and women to seek child support or alimony during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. Asking for this support upfront can help defray living costs.
Don’t Treat Your Attorney as Your Therapist
This great tip comes from CNBC, which reminds us that attorneys handle legal issues. If you need emotional support or a sounding board to discuss why your marriage failed, try to meet with family or friends.
Discuss Fees Upfront
We encourage clients to ask questions during an initial consultation, and this includes questions about fees. You should ask an attorney how much they charge. Also ask who else will work on a case, such as a junior attorney, paralegal, etc.
At Barbara Flum Stein & Associates, we are happy to discuss how much a divorce is likely to cost you and develop strategies for containing costs. Contact one of our Media divorce lawyers for more information.