There are many, many ways you can control the costs of divorce. Most of these will require you to do legwork on your own, but the savings can be significant. And who doesn’t want to have more money in their pocket as they start out new?!!
Now don’t get me wrong — there will be expenses that come with your divorce. There are fees for filing the divorce, there will be legal fees (which you can help control), and other costs that may include moving (if you have to move house), setting up new accounts, paying for other professionals, etc. What you want to do is to see how you can control the costs in front of you and not let them get out of control. More money is more money — are you with me?
Legal fees are often the largest expense in a divorce. Depending on which legal option you choose, you may have to pay a retainer to an attorney, or an hourly rate (which can be quite steep). I do not recommend that you skip legal representation; I have seen so many people try to do a divorce on their own without any legal review and who greatly regretted it later.
Two suggestions for managing legal expenses:
First — do your homework on working with an attorney before you engage them. - Research the ways you can get divorced to learn which might be the best for you. - Gather and organize the paperwork that you will need so that you are prepared for the meeting. - Talk to people you trust who have gone through a divorce about what they did and who they used — their experience will be totally different from yours, but you will get an idea of what they had to do. Ask them what they suggest about managing the costs — they might be a great source of help for you.
Secondly — try to manage your emotions on two fronts. - When you go in to your lawyer’s office you don’t want to spend an hour crying or screaming about your soon to be ex. Attorneys understand that this is an emotional process (notice the tissue boxes throughout their offices), but you are hiring them to help you navigate the legal process and not to help you with your emotional state. Remember -- that is what your therapist/best friend/running partner are for.
Also — managing emotions during the process can make things go more smoothly with your soon to be ex and can help to avoid running up hourly fees with your attorney. Every time you complain to your attorney through a call, email, text, or office visit you are racking up billable hours for them. These can add up and drain your retainer quickly, or make your next bill very large.
If you are able to discuss any of the issues with your soon to be ex, outside of an attorney’s office, you might be able to come to some agreement that you can bring to the attorneys yourselves, thus saving the time the lawyers would spend doing the same thing.
If you are not able to discuss things with your soon to be ex in a somewhat calm way, do your own work and be prepared when you speak with your attorney.
Remember that YOU have a lot of control over your divorce expenses, from being prepared for your legal meetings to keeping your emotions out of the legal process (and therefore out of your lawyer’s bills!).