The horror stories you’ve heard about divorce are absolutely true. Once-happy couples spend tens of thousands of dollars doing battle in their own version of the Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas movie “War of the Roses.” Though it’s not at all uncommon for couples to spend six figures on splitting, it’s by no means a necessity. Just as you had options when you wed, the same holds true for your divorce. It’s all a question of your priorities and how badly you want to fight. If you’re both on board with cutting through the noise and taking care of business, you can end your marriage with relative ease and much less expense.
Though there are specific steps you can take to minimize your expense, affordable divorces in Pennsylvania all start with the same key attribute: both spouses have agreed to move on as efficiently as possible. If one of the two of you is committed to making the other pay (whether financially or emotionally), you should both prepare to write big checks to your attorneys. On the other hand, if you can both be amicable and agree on the basics, you’ll end up saving a lot.
With that in mind, here are our recommendations for cutting the cost of your divorce.
- Read up on Pennsylvania divorces. By doing a minimal amount of research you can learn the basics of the process and the various elements that need to be resolved. Not only will that set you up for substantive discussions, but it will also minimize the number of questions you’ll have for your attorneys – and cut the time that they’re going to bill you. It takes most people until after they’ve received their first legal bill to realize that every time they call their lawyer with a “quick question” or to complain about their soon-to-be-ex, the clock is running and they’re being charged.
- Make a list of the essential elements to be resolved — equitable distribution, child custody, child support, alimony/spousal support — and then set a time to meet with each other to discuss them. Trying to hammer them all out at once may be too much depending on your personalities and other factors, but the more you can agree to before you meet with attorneys, the better off you’ll be in terms of both time and expense. The caveat to this is that the agreement you reach must be fair: If one of you dominates or bullies the other into agreeing to something unreasonable, then the other’s attorney is going to nix the whole thing.
- When you do have questions, ask your attorney’s staff rather than your attorney. There’s a very good chance that they will have been asked the same question dozens of times before and know the answer. There’s no magic to hearing words out of your lawyer’s mouth, but there is a big price tag.
- Stop complaining to your lawyer. Divorcing couples would be amazed if they realized how much of their legal bills are spent on complaining about their spouse – or the divorce process. If your soon-to-be-ex did something to make you crazy, or made your child cry, or acted out at a party that you both attended, your lawyer can’t change it and won’t do anything about it. The time that you spend talking about it to legal counsel is just throwing money away. Calling your friends or your siblings makes a lot more sense.
If you let your attorney know that you’re both interested in saving money on the divorce, they will be happy to accommodate your wishes and tell you exactly what to do to make that happen. They may recommend a mediator or give you a list of questions to discuss on your own so that you can resolve the big issues yourselves. The more things you can agree to, the less chance that you’ll end up in court, which is where the really big money gets spent.
For more guidance on navigating divorce, contact us today to set up a time to discuss your situation.