Divorce should be a fairly straightforward process if both spouses have mutually agreed to part ways. Yet, even in the most amicable of splits, the divorce itself can sometimes run into the thousands. So what is it that’s costing couples so much? And is there some way to cut back on your expenses at this difficult time?
The price of going to court
If you go the route of a trial to decide the outcome of issues related to our divorce, whether it is a child custody battle, alimony discussions, or the divisions of marital assets and debt, things can get expensive. Unlike a collaborative divorce or a divorce settled via mediation, a divorce that is presented in court before a judge needs to run a longer course. Your divorce attorneys will need to spend considerable time building a case for you, gathering witnesses, testimony and more, and that’s an expense you will have to bear.
Running the course
During the divorce process, there are some stages that have very clear guidelines on a last date by which a certain document or response must be given. Your attorney must track this and rush to ensure everything is in order by the date given. This might mean prioritizing your requirements over others and also putting in a fair bit of legwork to get things done. And that’s what you need to pay for. It is worth it to ensure you meet deadlines and don’t let tardiness work as a negative against you if the case goes to trial.
Fighting your spouse
Many divorces end up being very expensive simply because of the number of hours, weeks and months spent with two attorneys facing off to get their client the best deal possible. Fighting your spouse through the legal system is very expensive and in many cases, avoidable.
Divorce attorneys often end up acting as facilitators for their clients. If you rely entirely on them to iron out every single detail of your divorce it is going to cost you. Remember, your attorney will bill you on the time they are spending on your divorce. It doesn’t matter whether the scope of discussions that day were on insignificant details or big ones. So pick when and where you do need them involved, and figure out if some areas can be settled between you and your spouse. This is actually an area where there could some avoidable expenses during divorce, so here are some pointers to see if you could cut the billable hours.
- Tackle smaller issues independently: While it may feel better to have a lawyer around, if you and your soon-to-be-ex are on talking terms, try and resolve the less contentious issues on your own or have preliminary discussions. This will help save precious attorney hours to deal with more pressing issues, and save you some money.
- Deal with the contested aspects: If you have a preliminary discussion with your spouse on areas where you have differing views, you will be able to better brief your attorney as well. It will give you a good sense of where your spouse stands on a certain issue and help arm them better before you schedule you a four-way meeting or before you head into mediation.
- Use mediation: Divorce mediation can help you resolve your issues out of court and has the distinct advantage of allowing you to have greater control on the final outcome. By pre-empting the need to go to court, you potentially save thousands.
Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law lawyer and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.