In our last blog, we talked about finding a Jefferson County MO divorce lawyer with a small budget and what factors go into the divorce process. This week, we are back with tips to keep divorce costs low.
Tips to Keep Costs Low
Use your attorney’s time wisely
Legal processes are not cheap. Ensure that when you are paying your lawyer, you are making it worthwhile. Do not waste the attorney’s time with issues they cannot help resolve. While they will help you, it is best to focus on the legal issues at hand when using their services.
Unless you can afford it, your attorney is not a therapist
Many attorneys are considered counselors and can serve as advisors. Divorce is a very emotional topic. Many attorneys are trained to handle much of the raw emotion involved. It is natural to form an emotional bond with an attorney as they must ask very personal questions regarding the relationship to assist their clients in the process. While this is acceptable make sure not to involve your attorney in issues that do not directly impact the case. Using their time for this will only cost you the money you cannot afford to be spending.
Communicate in writing whenever possible
When learning how to get a divorce on a budget phone calls are often a topic that is overlooked. Unlike most other situations it is typically better to communicate via email with your attorney rather than calling. While a phone call is absolutely necessary for certain situations such as for discussing settlement proposals, make sure to ask yourself if a phone call is required first. Typically clients that communicate by email have more information stored, making the process faster. And since they do not use a bunch of their attorney’s time on the phone, their costs are lower as well.
Combine your questions
Most attorneys bill based on the number of hours they spend interacting with a client. This can include emails as well. If possible, combine all your questions into one email, rather than sending many emails. For non-urgent questions and concerns, address many topics at once using short concise sentences in one email. You can get a large amount of information to your attorney that can be read in a short amount of time, as opposed to using a phone call which may cost you more.
Discuss interim issues when possible
If you are in a litigation process, it is advised that you resolve interim issues that have yet to be decided before the final agreement is reached or a trial is conducted. Getting an agreement regarding parental time, responsibility for expenses, temporary support, and occupancy of the home could save you a lot of money in legal fees.
Have realistic expectations and perform a cost benefit analysis
Many clients searching for how to get a divorce on a budget make the mistake of assuming the judge will rule in their favor. This causes them to naively make mistakes in settlement negotiations. Understanding that divorce is oftentimes disappointing for one or both parties is good practice. Do not assess a settlement offer by comparing it to what you believe is best or what your spouse deserves in your eyes. Instead, look at the cost of saying yes to that offer and compare it to the anticipated costs of trial and the risk of the case not going your way.
A common mistake that is made in divorce is focusing on all of the things the two spouses disagree on, whether that is selling the home, keeping their kids in private school, or who gets to keep what asset. This creates a winner and loser scenario. Instead, focus on creating solutions that suit both parties. Understand each other’s interests. A spouse wanting to stay in the home may be doing so to keep their kids at their current school so they may maintain their friendships. A spouse wanting to sell may be looking at their financial statements realizing, it is simply not cost-effective for them to take on that liability.
Have reasonable positions based on objective criteria
The worst thing you can do when trying to get a divorce with no money is positional bargaining. This essentially means each party takes an extreme position than slowly uses up time, money, and resources trying to meet in the middle. Instead, it is recommended to take a reasonable position, backed by objective criteria from the beginning, and share those criteria with both parties. Negotiating from a justifiable range reduces conflict and lowers cost.
Many couples make the mistake of using their attorney to negotiate the division of small items. Things such as family photos, furniture, dishes, and more. Outside of high-value pieces of art, antiques, and jewelry, most of these items are not valuable enough to justify the number of fees you will pay to keep them. However, many clients fight tooth and nail over symbolic objects much of the time, which leads to a huge cost in legal fees. Weight the cost of your attorney to the costs of the item when making decisions such as these.
Have More Questions?
Need to know more about how to get a divorce with no money? Contact a Jefferson County MO divorce lawyer at Flesner Wentzel today! Our staff will answer your questions and help you determine your next steps. We are happy to talk with you about your case and get you the legal help you need. We want you to have a smooth and cost-effective divorce process. So, for a trusted Jefferson County MO divorce lawyer, call Flesner Wentzel.
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