Almost everyone who calls us about divorce cases here at Merchant Law wants to know how much the divorce is going to cost. Even high net worth couples want to know what to expect so they can plan accordingly.
Nobody wants to spend an excessive amount of money on an event that’s already hurting them. Fortunately there are ways to keep divorce costs under control.
#1) Get All Your Paperwork in One Place
We recommend you gather all of your asset and liability documents in one place even before you come to see us. This will allow us to get a full picture of what’s happening and will prevent billable hours where we’re running back and forth trying to get information from you and your spouse.
Remember, we’ll need everything. Bank accounts, tax records, business records, real property deeds, investment accounts, insurance policies, retirement accounts, information about vehicles and boats, credit card accounts, loan statements, even Bitcoin accounts. A great deal of the divorce process will revolve around getting your assets and debts divided properly. Organization makes the process run much smoother.
#2) Set Realistic Expectations
Chances are you’re not going to walk away with “everything,” even if you and your spouse have only been married for a year. You’re not going to get out of paying some form of spousal support if your ex was a house spouse for 20 years, raising your children and keeping your home while you went and pursued your career.
There are certain precedents that the courts have set while dealing with divorce cases. Your lawyer can explain what your best case and worst case scenarios look like should your case go to trial. While there may always be surprises, your goal should be to stay out of court as much as possible. Those surprises may not always be pleasant for you, no matter how good your lawyer is.
Using these best and worst case scenarios you can craft an idea of what a realistic divorce settlement looks like and get on with trying to land somewhere in the middle of those two realities.
#3) Commit to the Negotiation Process
If your case goes to divorce court you’ve lost control of the process. Judges can be unpredictable. Ideally, you want your case to be on a judge’s desk just long enough to get your reasonable settlement approved.
That means you’re going to have to sit down and negotiate. Treat the process like a business arrangement. Do your best to keep emotion out of it. Vindictiveness and anger cost far more money than a cool-headed discussion of what is and isn’t reasonable given both your situation and the boundaries of the law.
#4) Pick Your Battles
Don’t get into an extended battle over a single replaceable piece of furniture. We’ve seen it happen, and it doesn’t help anyone. Don’t let yourself get into a mindset that the other spouse wronged you and that the divorce agreement has to punish them. The courts don’t care, so you shouldn’t either.
Instead, think about pushing for a reasonable amount of spousal support given your marriage length and your financial situation, or focus on creating a co-parenting agreement you can live with.
#5) Avoid Playing Games
Spouses who try to hide assets, make accusations, or put kids in the middle do tend to make the process drag out longer than it has to. These tactics also often backfire. Judges have seen them, and they often respond by levying sanctions against the offending party.
Speak frankly and honestly with your lawyer at all times so they can help you prepare the best possible case given your situation. This is the only way your lawyer will be able to strategize properly on your behalf.
Got questions? Need help putting your divorce settlement together? Reach out to the lawyers at Merchant Law to schedule a consultation today.