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Heather Jones

Divorce can be a very costly undertaking. If the divorce drags on long enough and it takes a great deal of effort to resolve the issues, it can impact one or both parties for many years. If you’ve come across this article, hopefully, you are looking for ways to make your divorce less expensive. Expenses like paying for appraisals, mediations, and attorney fees should be kept in your mind when you file for divorce. There are answers to the question, “what is the least expensive route to filing for divorce?” Read on to find out ways you can minimize expenses during a divorce.  

gavel with two wedding bands

Start Before You Even Get Married


The start of a relationship can be a very happy and optimistic time for a lot of people. Unfortunately, it can also be a time when people tend to be more willing to ignore red flags or agree to things that they will regret later. No one likes to think about things not working out, let alone discuss them with their partner. The hard truth here is that if you are going to get married, you have to think about the possibility of divorce. If you have assets that you acquired or worked for while you were single, you need to think about taking the appropriate steps to keep those assets separate. Try to remove emotion from the equation when making decisions about your separate property. Have a frank discussion with your future spouse about a pre-nuptial agreement and how you would like to avoid co-mingling funds and property acquired before the marriage.  


Remember that a pre-nuptial agreement can be personalized to you and your future spouse. You can agree that some property will be co-mingled but excludes other property. Signing a prenup does not mean that the other person can’t get anything, but it does mean that not everything is on the table when the marriage is divided. Try to create an agreement that both of you would be comfortable with. A little preparation now with an agreement in signed writing could make all the difference in how smoothly a divorce goes through if the marriage does not work out.  

Woman taking off her wedding band after a divorce

Try To Come to Some Agreements on Your Own


This one is tricky but worth it if the relationship at the time supports it. What that means is that you and your spouse agree that the marriage is not working and it needs to end. If at all possible, sit down on your own and discuss what each spouse wants and what they are willing to part with. If there are children involved, see if the two of you can decide what is best for them right now. If a property is involved, see if you can agree on how it should be split; the same goes for debt. No one knows your life and finances like the two of you do, and if the two of you can decide together how the divorce should go, you’re far ahead of many other couples who are divorcing. Even if you can’t agree on everything, agreeing on some things will put you in a better position to spend less money.  


Use Your Attorney for The Critical Stuff


Your attorney is an excellent resource for guiding your case through the legal system and helping you to understand the process and relevant law. If the divorce is contentious, then your attorney can be your advocate and make sure that your legal rights are represented. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse aren’t fighting over all of the details, your attorney can perform less work on your behalf. Less work performed by your attorney means lower legal bills. In other words, it is up to you if you want to put your attorney in the position where they just take care of the significant issues on your case or if your attorney has to deal with every little possible thing that could come up in your divorce. It’s essential to really understand what is being said here. It’s not that your attorney shouldn’t have to do anything; it’s that it will be more expensive if your attorney has to do everything. If your attorney has to mediate a dispute over who gets the antique salt and pepper shakers, your attorney can certainly do that for you, but it will cost you. Wouldn’t you rather have your attorney spend their time moving your divorce forward rather than fighting over houseware? Think carefully about that every time you find yourself wanting to fight over the little things.  

Certificate of Divorce with pen

Pick Your Battles


This builds on what was just shared above, make a choice not to fight over the “little things.” What the little things are is different for everybody. Only you can determine what is really important, what you refuse to budge on, and what you will compromise on. Take time to think about this before you get into the divorce process. Try to work out as much as you can with your soon-to-be ex-spouse if at all possible, and then decide what is important to you. Maybe it’s the house or spending a certain amount of time with the children. Maybe it’s the family dogs. It could be anything, but you need to decide what you absolutely need to be firm about and stick to it. Changing your mind or going back and forth is just as expensive as fighting over every single thing. A divorce inevitably causes an incredible number of bad feelings for a lot of people, and spending a bunch of money to fight with your spouse in court is not going to make you feel better. Make wise choices about what you are willing to fight for, and it can help control costs.  


Listen To Your Attorney


Sometimes people forget this straightforward fact, your attorney is on your side. Your attorney is there to help you, and if your attorney gives you advice or asks you to do something, it is to benefit you. If your attorney asks you for documents, don’t drag your feet or take a month to get to it; provide the documents. If your attorney asks you for documents, it is because it is necessary to complete your divorce. Please don’t give your attorney an old box full of loose papers. Try to organize the documents so that the attorney and their staff do not have to spend three hours trying to interpret what goes where and if you even provided what the attorney asked for. If your attorney calls you or sends you an email, try to get back to your attorney as quickly as possible, don’t force your attorney to spend time hunting you down. If your attorney is contacting you, it means that the attorney needs something from you in order for things to move forward, so respond promptly. If your attorney tells you not to do something, don’t do it. If your attorney took the time to tell you not to do something, it is for your protection, and failing to listen to your attorney could slow down the entire divorce process and end up costing money to fix.  


Additionally, if your divorce is complex enough to require what is referred to as discovery, where you provide documents and statements to the other side, don’t play games. The discovery process does not have to be difficult, but it can be time-consuming if one or both sides resist sharing information. Discovery disputes can take a long time to resolve, and in the legal industry, time is money. Failure to cooperate with discovery can also lead to penalties like court sanctions, which are typically financial charges that the court orders if one or both sides are being particularly stubborn and uncooperative. Paying sanctions will definitely increase the cost of a divorce, so cooperate with the discovery process if you have to go through it.  

family law

Try To Avoid Court


While this might seem impossible at first glance, consider the fact that you don’t have to go to court that often in a divorce that is not contentious. What that means is if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are not fighting over everything and are cooperating with the process, you will have fewer court appearances. Asking for a hearing, preparing for the hearing, and attending court is expensive, period. Going in front of the judge should really be for emergencies, temporary orders for the duration of the divorce, and final orders. If you are going to court every other month to fight over something, then your costs will escalate. If you are not fighting over everything, you will have fewer hearings, and costs will be lower. It’s that simple. Really the only time you should be going to court is for any hearing regarding custody or support and then to the final hearing where the court gives its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and the divorce decree and marital settlement agreement are entered into the record. You should not be filing motions every month to settle disputes if you want to keep your divorce costs reasonable.  


Talk To Support Staff First


If you have questions or an issue and need answers, you should reach out to the support staff of the attorney first. The reason that attorneys have support staff is that they can handle a lot of the more minor issues and share information that the client requires for a lower cost. While a member of the support staff can never, and should never, provide legal advice, the support staff can provide help in other ways. Your attorney will typically include at least their paralegal in conversations so that the paralegal is well informed about the case and what is going on. The paralegal should be able to help you with many things related to your case, and using their assistance will help keep costs low. On the flip side, the paralegal will be able to listen to your questions and concerns and determine if they need to go to the attorney for an answer or to be addressed. The paralegal or legal assistant will be a point of contact for you with the attorney and help to keep everything moving in the right direction. Try talking to the paralegal or legal assistant first before reaching out to the attorney directly in order to keep costs low.  


Consider A Joint or Collaborative Divorce


Building on many things that have been brought up in this article, if you want to keep costs low, you should consider discussing a joint divorce with your spouse. Different jurisdictions have different titles for this process, but it all boils down to one thing, you file for divorce together. Instead of one party filing a petition and the other party filing a response and then fighting, the parties file together with a joint petition. The parties decide what will be done in regard to the children, money, and property. Naturally, the less the spouses have, the easier this process is, but there are many people who have been able to get divorced this way, and they have saved themselves time, money, and a lot of stress. The takeaway here is simple, the more you fight, the more your divorce will probably cost. If you work together and compromise, the divorce will probably cost less. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done in many situations, but it is something to keep in mind. Even if both parties want to split up, it can create a lot of bad feelings and the urge to fight. Try to rise above the urge to fight and work together if you both want to save money on the divorce.  



Hopefully, this article has provided you with some ideas and insight on how to keep your divorce costs low. Ideally, a divorce can move smoothly from the initial filing to the final decree of divorce, but it is really up to the two people divorcing on how long that road is. Regardless of if you think the divorce will be smooth or rough, you should always consult with an experienced family law attorney who can assess your situation and tell you what you can probably expect. If you are contemplating divorce or if it has already begun and you are experiencing problems, feel free to give O’Flaherty Law a call; our experienced family law attorneys would be happy to help you.  

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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