Reduce Costs Of A Divorce Lawyer

Money thrown out like trashDid you ever hear the expression, “the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client?” Divorce is one of those events when you really should hire a lawyer rather than try to do-it-yourself. You can’t possibly be objective in what is probably the most emotional legal battle you will ever face. However, if you believe you can file a “no-fault” divorce and you meet your state residential requirements, you may want to consider some of the comparatively inexpensive documents that are available on-line.

Most divorce attorneys charge you based on the amount of time they spend on your case. Breaking up a marriage stirs up many feelings of anger and sadness, so it’s natural to want to talk to your lawyer about it. Just remember, you may be on the clock while you shout obscenities about your soon-to-be ex-spouse, or wonder out loud where it all went so wrong.

Always keep in mind that your divorce lawyer is your hired gun, not your friend or your therapist. As much as humanly possible, save your emotional talks for your pals (who generally listen for free, or maybe for a round or three of drinks) or a counselor, who probably charges a lot less than your divorce attorney does.

Divorce and custody proceedings can be very expensive. One apt description is to imagine that you and your spouse sell all your assets for cash, then race to the top of a tall building to see who can throw the most money out of the window fastest.

The key to keeping your legal costs down in a divorce and/or custody battle is doing your homework and being organized. Divorce laws vary widely in every state, so your lawyer will tell you specifically what information or documents she needs. Generally, you need to provide lists of your assets and liabilities. Be prepared with the following information, for you and your spouse:

  • What bank accounts are in your name? Include checking and savings accounts, as well as money market accounts, and investment accounts
  • What is the current balance of each account?
  • Do you have 401(k) or other retirement accounts? What is the current balance?
  • What accounts are in both your names (joint accounts)?
  • Do you have liabilities such as credit card debt or car loans? How much?
  • Who owns the house and the car(s)?
  • Do you have stock options?
  • What assets did you own before you married?
  • Are you entitled to receive a pension?
  • What are your expected Social Security benefits?
  • Did you sign a prenuptial or ante-nuptial agreement?
  • Did you receive an inheritance, either before or after you got married?
  • Did you obtain a degree or professional license during your marriage? In some states, your spouse may be entitled to a portion of your future earnings.
  • Do you own a business? What is the value of the goodwill?
  • If you will be seeking alimony or child support, prepare a realistic budget of your expected expenses, rather than just a demand for an unsubstantiated dollar amount.

    If you present your lawyer with organized information, it will cut down the amount of time (translation: money) he has to spend asking questions and wading through piles of paper. Your money is better spent getting his advice on how to get the best and quickest settlement possible under the law of your state, rather than adding up numbers or listening while you provide personal information that is not, strictly speaking, relevant to your case.

    Courtesy of our manager at

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    4 Responses to Reduce Costs Of A Divorce Lawyer

    1. Ruby says:

      Good post! Agree that a lot of the work can be done by divorcing parties themselves. Had a friend who was going through divorce and that’s what they did. Even though they both hired attorneys, they maintained decent relationship with each other and were able to draft separation agreement which was later accepted by both their attorneys.

    2. contrary1 says:

      All good points. Unfortunately, I know that from personal experience.
      I also was upfront re; my budget & got a workable contract to pay the attorney fees. Told him to hold the line re; spending & that I wanted to use the para legal for everything possible (much cheaper). Money well spent in the long run…..whatever I spent was WAY cheaper than staying married!

    3. Dustin Jones says:

      Great post! I’m sure this information will help many people. A divorce can be costly, I know first hand.

    4. John says:

      This is a great listing. I have to second your advice: BE ULTRA
      ORGANIZED. Look at it this way: If you’re super organized, every MINUTE you save your lawyer from figuring something out, looking something up, or picking up the phone, you save six bucks. When you’re about to call your lawyer, prepare the agenda of your conversation like it was a long-distance call in 1975. Cover your objectives, ask if there’s anything else you can do for your lawyer, and hang up.Do a rough draft of your agreement with your spouse if you can keep it together long enough to do so. Bickering with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is free. Doing it in front of two lawyers costs $12/minute.Use the internet to get educated on your rights (and on those of your spouse). You might just spend less time arguing if you both know the score. Great post!

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