It's important to understand that divorce isn't just a legal journey but an emotional and financial one as well. According to divorcesupport.about.com, the typical divorce costs $15,000 but can go as high as $30,000. Thankfully, in a time when DIY projects are everywhere, there are cost-cutting DIY opportunities throughout the divorce process, so finalizing the end of your marriage doesn't always have to break the bank.
Keep Costs Down
Educate yourself first: Ask family, friends and trusted colleagues for attorney referrals. Go online and research potential attorneys' fees and credentials. Also find out what type of information an attorney might need once he or she take your case. The more prepared you are, the less you will be billed per hour. (For related reading, see: Divorce Planning Checklist: What You Need to Know.)
Opt for an amicable divorce when possible: The more you and your future ex-spouse can accomplish together, the better. Schedule a session with a trusted moderator, and review financial documents and make decisions together. Record the session and consult with your attorney afterwards.
Another option is a collaborative law divorce. During a collaborative law divorce, a couple uses mediation and negotiations to process their divorce. In certain situations, collaborative divorce can be more cost-effective and less stressful than the traditional approach.
According to Nolo.com, pursuing mediation could save couples anywhere from a hundred to a few hundreds of dollars per hour. Nolo.com writes, "Using mediation to negotiate a divorce agreement is almost always going to take less time, cost less, and result in a more solid agreement than using a lawyer to take the same case through the courts. When you are going to have an ongoing relationship with your ex-spouse, such as when you have kids together, mediation can help to improve communication and make your future interactions a little bit easier." (For more, see: Get Through Divorce With Your Finances Intact.)
Keep in mind why the attorney is there: Divorce is a very stressful time, and you may benefit immensely from legal counsel and expertise. However, always keep in mind that attorneys usually charge by the hour, and keep conversations with your attorney brief and professional. Prepare questions well in advance to avoid extra charges for longer conversations. It is important to understand that the primary role of attorneys is to assist with legal matters, not necessarily to provide emotional support.
Ask the executive assistant: While you can always contact your attorney directly, consider following up with his executive assistant or paralegal for information, such as if a document was filed or if the attorney received an important fax. This simple step can eliminate extra charges off the attorney's bill. (For related reading, see: Crowdfunding Your Divorce.)
Remember that honesty is the best policy: Time is money, and by being transparent about financial matters, the easier the divorce process will be. Have documents readily available for your attorney, and make sure you didn't overlook anything such as credit cards or restricted stock. The attorney needs all the current and relevant information to help you receive your fair share in a divorce proceeding and to make the process go as smoothly as possible. (For related reading, see: 5 Financial Mistakes to Avoid During a Divorce.)