Contemplating divorce? Marriage is an expensive legal venture, with the Conde Nast Bridal Group estimating that the average wedding in America today is ringing in just under $30,000. Add real estate, joint assets, and personal belongings to the mix and the cost goes up.
If you're contemplating divorce, know that the cost of divorce is very high. The more invested you are financially in this marriage, the more it is going to cost you to divorce. Today's woman is much more financially self reliant than yesterday's, and stands to lose a lot more when it comes to the financial impact of divorce. And with the economy standing in the position that it is, the financial repercussions can mount up. Divorce law does not stipulate who gets what according to who hurt who most, so if you have a heavy financial position, you will want to know how to protect yourself financially in today's costly divorce process.
Lynn King has authored "What Every Woman Should Know About Marriage, Separation, and Divorce" from a financial and legal perspective. She says that she is often asked about the cost of divorce, as every woman today is looking for a way to save money here, no matter what their financial position may be. This question she likens to being asked how much a car costs, every divorce is different, just like every vehicle is. Depending on what bells and whistles or cutthroat options a lawyer will have in mind will determine all the difference in your legal fees and cost of divorce.
But financial columnist for Forbes, Leah Hoffman states that your cost of divorce will depend on how fiscally smart you are when it comes to the nitty gritty legal details. You may not know that your lawyer doesn't HAVE to do everything. With a little bit of education and preparedness, you can reduce your legal costs of divorce, and save yourself some money. The average divorce today costs $15,000 per person, and with half of American marriages ending this way, you can easily see why the divorce market is a $28 billion dollar game.
Here are six tips on how to cut some of those costs when you are contemplating divorce.
1. Do it Yourself. The easiest and cheapest divorce in America today is a Pro Se divorce. If you have few assets, no children, and your divorce will be uncontested, this is a do it yourself divorce that is perfectly legal and gaining popularity across America. A Pro Se divorce can save you thousands and cut quite the chunk out of that $15,000 divorce.
2. Do your emotional homework elsewhere. Almost all lawyers bill by the hour, which means that every minute will cost you a portion of your lawyer's hourly rate. Don't get caught up in the emotional drama of divorce when you are in your lawyer's office or have them on the phone. They are experienced in the emotions of divorce, but they can and they will charge you for their time. If your spouse has hurt your feelings, it won't matter when it comes down to the legal business, so save those vent sessions for your girls nights or your hairstylist. Or better yet, save your emotional issues for a therapy or coaching session.
3. Use Alternative Dispute processes. The alternative dispute resolution process will save you court time and court costs. A mediator or arbitrator can help you facilitate your divorce settlement without the costs of an expensive cut throat lawyer. Here you avoid court all together, and can save thousands in legal fees.
4. Have your spouse file the divorce, even if you are the one initiating. Filing fees can rack up, and you can circumvent these by having your spouse take these costs on. In most divorces, egos play a significant role in divorce costs, and if finances are a particular concern, you can have your spouse assume these costs for you. Emotionally it also makes you look like the "bigger person" so you win both ways here.
5. Use your lawyer's secretary or assistant as much as possible. These staff members in your lawyer's office bill their rates at a much lower rate than your lawyer's, and are educated on family law as well. They have some of the knowledge and experience you may need for answering peskier questions that will be time consuming for your lawyer. Handle as much as you can on the phone with them, and don't be afraid to ask some tough questions. They will help you out as much as they can, and if it gets too complicated will refer you to your lawyer. The more of the tough stuff you can weed out before your lawyer's clock starts ticking, the more you save.
6. Be as amicable as possible as early as possible. The more you can work out financially with your spouse before you see a lawyer is directly proportional to the amount of money you will save in legal fees. Work out whatever you can ahead of time and you will save money, plain and simple. The less time your lawyers have to work things out with each other, the fewer billable hours you will see on your invoice.
On top of all of the emotions you are experiencing, financial stress is a huge concern when you are contemplating divorce. In divorce law, some costs are as unavoidable as the marriage license fee that got you here to begin with. But that does not mean you can't be a little financially savvy and save some costs well before the legal hours begin. The better informed you are, the lower the cost of divorce.