How can I keep the cost of divorce down? 33 Answers as of August 05, 2011

My wife and I are separating, what is the best way to keep costs down?

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Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
Mediation.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/5/2011
Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law
Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law | Gregory T. Buckley
The most obvious thing that you can do is to not hire an attorney. However, depending on the complexity of your situation, that may not be a good alternative.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 7/25/2011
Osterman Law LLC
Osterman Law LLC | Mark D. Osterman
Use a dissolution form. You can get them on-line. Work out every detail. What you cannot agree on, find a way to mediate. Your church pastor or paidmediators. But be careful: Paid mediators are great for big ticket items like houses and savings or investments with a gazzilion bucks. My experience in paid mediators is that they are steeply biased by sex, personality or even jealousy. Use a mediator that does not need to meet the parties and will reject any claims of spousal abuse for the award. Its better to go to court than to get into that dog and pony show. Good luck!
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 7/20/2011
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
If you have children, reconcile. If you have no children, divorce by agreement. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 7/25/2011
Neville J. Bedford Attorney at Law
Neville J. Bedford Attorney at Law | Neville J. Bedford
have all of the issues resolved and agreed before you go to court. Enlist a mediator to help if you can't negotiate directly and then hire an attorney to put a "nominal" divorce through the court. 401Divorce
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 7/19/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    If you both actually agree on everything, then you could do it on the Internet or with a Paralegal, but, in my experience, you should both at least consult with a divorce lawyer to learn your rights and remedies so you know what you're doing before you "settle" your case. Otherwise, you might settle it and it is unfair to you or her unknowingly because you just didn't understand the laws around divorce and equitable distribution.You could also use a Mediator who wouldmeet with both of you and then draftthe agreement and you may either choose to sign it or consult with an attorney at that point. I like consultation beforehand so you know what you're doing when you're trying to settle the case. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/19/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Simply put, be prepared. If the two of you can agree to things, that keeps cost down, since there is no need to go to court or lawyers to address simple things. So, start with a list of what you want and what you expect, then ask her for the same thing. The more the two of you agree to the less this will cost. Then, if you find you can agree to everything, hire only one lawyer. If you do not agree to everything, those things you did agree to will save you money. Then hire lawyers but prepare for your time with your lawyer - make the most of that time, show up on time with documents asked for, bring more is always better. Think, what would your lawyer want or need? This is really simple but so many clients assume that we can get VIN numbers off cars, legal descriptions of property, boat hull numbers, etc. We can, but it takes time and we charge for looking this stuff up, you can save your lawyer time and yourself money by bringing in simple information. I want every client to bring these items as soon as possible: 1. Recent mortgage statement and most recent property tax statement for the house 2. If possible, a copy of the Hud 1 or original promissory note on the house 3. Copy of the rental agreement/lease if you do not own the house 4. Copy of the car insurance card - the one you carry in the car - it has VIN numbers, and other important information 5. Copy of health insurance cards 6. Copy of most recent pay stubs, both yours and your spouses 7. Copies of credit card statements for the last 2 months 8. Bank statements for two months for all bank accounts, including any investment accounts, trade accounts, 401K or retirement accounts, checking, savings, etc. 9. If the car is financed, a copy of any account info on the car note 10. If either of you own a company, the corporate books or formation docs, or any information you have or can provide on that subject. 11. Any evidence you have that you think your lawyer may want or need such as cell phone records, texts, e-mails, love-letters, pictures, journals, hotel receipts, etc. 12. Last but certainly not least, a list of people who have witnessed things that you think are important (if you think it is important, it most likely is, so bring a list of witnesses along with addresses and phone numbers) This next one is very important: Realize the simple truth - your spouse knows you, and you know your spouse, that means you know how to annoy one another. Don't annoy him or her, don't make this difficult, and do not tell them "my lawyer says . . ." or "I am going to tell my lawyer to . . ." Either just do it or at least don't threaten them. Annoying one another sends each of you to your lawyers for referee time (when you call your lawyer because your spouse said XYZ and you want to know if this is true, you will be charged for the call). So, write down questions, issues, and things you want to talk about. When it is important enough to spend the money on it, send an e-mail with the list of topics and ask for an appointment. Send this to the paralegal or secretary, not the lawyer. Be sure to tell the secretary or paralegal these are the items you want to talk about and ask for a time when you can come in. Think of it this way, if you call with no appointment because your spouse said XYZ, your lawyer has to get the message, think about it, call you back talk for 5-10 minutes. You get billed .3 up to .5 hours of attorney time on one question. Set an appointment where the lawyer has an hour set aside for you, you can ask 8-10 questions and get better answers, then leave, you are billed 1 hour for all of it which saves you a lot of money. Finally, remember this, if you call or visit your lawyer seeking therapy, you will get it, but it will not be cheap. Finding a friend to talk to, a confidant or minister is a lot less expensive and you can use your lawyer for legal questions, let your minister handle the hurt feelings.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/19/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    don't argue about silly things.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/18/2011
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
    The best way is to reach agreements on the issues that may exist, reduce them to writing and have them approved by a judge. The high cost comes when people are necessitating court involvement and judges making decisions.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 7/18/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Do as much of the work as you can yourselves. Don't disagree. Most people do not use attorneys. Use an attorney on an unbundled basis.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/18/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    A noncontested divorce is the cheapest way to keep the costs down. However, both parties would have to agree to all of the terms and conditions in the settlement agreement and the attorney would simply prepare the documents and file them.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/18/2011
    Donaldson Stewart, PC
    Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
    This is a difficult question to answer because it depends very much on your circumstances. If you and your wife are reaching agreements regarding the issues in the divorce, then you may be able best save costs by using the forms available from the court's website - this way, you might only be paying for filing fees. You might also consider working together with a mediator who can help work through any issues to facilitate a settlement and assist with the preparation of the documents. If there are disputed issues, then it is difficult to estimate what the costs might be if either or both of you hire an attorney. At the very least, I recommend you consult with an attorney (or together consult with a mediator) to discuss your options.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 7/18/2011
    Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C.
    Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C. | Fredric Harlan Aaron
    The only way to keep the cost of the divorce down is to try to settle the divorce in an amicable fashion. If your relationship with your wife is not acrimonious, you should consider going for mediation to work out the details of the divorce, and file the divorce as uncontested.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/18/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    If you two are still talking, and assets are less than $50,000 I am a big believer in mediation. An independent mediator can help you reach a good decision, which a good attorney can then transfer into the necessary court documents for a divorce. People end up on better terms too.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 7/18/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    First and foremost, the best way to keep the costs down is to commit to "no fighting" and to "working out a reasonable agreement" that both of you can live with. Calm, rational communication between spouses is absolutely "free". This principle is true regardless of whether either of you has an attorney, but it is far more important when there is an attorney involved. Depending on your exact situation, one or both of you may need to at least consult an attorney to learn enough about the legal issues and requirements that you can intelligently discuss and decide things. For example, you need to know what the court and the law believe is the required amount of child support before you agree to any specific amount because the court is not bound by any agreements affecting children and is required by law to require a certain minimum amount of support to be paid. You may also need to know more about pension requirements, health insurance benefits, and debt contracts.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 7/18/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    Here's a link to an article I wrote about how to save/reduce attorney fees: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/saving-on-attorney-fees?ref=result_5_ti tle Also, the more you and your spouse can reach agreements (hence, less fighting), then the less your fees will be. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/18/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    Settle it!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/18/2011
    Horizons Law Group, LLC
    Horizons Law Group, LLC | Michelle B. Fitzgerald
    Review your finances together or with an attorney or financial expert to discuss possible plan for division. Divorce mediation is also an option and way to keep costs down, or using pro se divorce services.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 7/18/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Generally, one of the best ways to keep down the costs of a divorce is to try to resolve all prepoerty, debt, and custody (and other) issues with your spouse and try to handle the matter, with a divorce lawyer's help, as an uncontested divorce. We handle both uncontested and contested divorces at the Goolsby Law Firm, LLC. It is important that you find a good divorce Georgia lawyer who can handle a simple uncontested divorce at an affordable rate. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/16/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    The costs of having attorneys prepare the paperwork for you is fairly low. Where things can get expensive is the amount of help the two of you need to get to a settlement. The more the two of you are going to fight the more expesive it is going to be, and the more the two of you can work to come to agreements on your own, the cheaper it will be. One idea to consider is hiring a mediator to help the two of you work through to an agreement (after getting legal advice from your respective attorneys), and then have your attorneys prepare the paperwork to get you divorced based on the agreement you reached in mediation.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/16/2011
    Law Office of Xochitl Anita Quezada
    Law Office of Xochitl Anita Quezada | Xochitl Anita Quezada
    Don't hire an attorney and fill out the papers yourselves. Do not go with a paralegal or secretarial service. They have no more legal experience than you do. You can also ask an attorney how much they would charge to help you fill out the paperwork.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/16/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    Cooperate with one another on achieving a comprehensive and fair settlement of all your issues.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/16/2011
    Willick Law Group
    Willick Law Group | Marshal S. Willick
    Number 1: Agree on the terms. Then one of you hire competent counsel to reduce those terms to writing, everyone signs off, the papers are submitted, and you are done. To the degree that is impossible, keeping costs to a minimum is likewise impossible.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 7/16/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    The best way is to be agreeable in advance about all the issues and to find a lawyer who regularly does uncontested cases to draft the appropriate papers.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/16/2011
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
    By far the best way is for you and your wife to sit down and "agree" on all of the issues surrounding the divorce. This means agree on child custody, child support, spousal support, division of assets, everything. Then when you have agreed, you should come into an experienced family law attorney who will draft a marital settlement agreement that you both can sign. Then the lawyer can help you fill out the papers that must be filed with the court to make the agreement legal.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/16/2011
    Rhonda R. Werner Schultz, PL
    Rhonda R. Werner Schultz, PL | Rhonda R. Werner Schultz
    The more issues you and your Wife agree upon the lower the cost of your divorce. If the attorneys have to negotiate issues that takes time and costs you money. If you and your Wife agree on all issues, you can have an attorney prepare your agreement and present it to your Wife for her consideration. Once you have an agreement, the rest of the divorce process is relatively straight forward and should not cost a substantial amount of money.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 7/16/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    In a word: "Settle." In general, the more of a case you can settle, the cheaper it is likely to be. So, if you and your spouse are on good terms and able to work together, you may be able to realize a considerable savings. Now, you and your spouse will need to address all of the issues. This will include: 1. Dividing up all of the property. 2. Dividing up all of the debts. 3. If you have children, then, developing a parenting plan for the children. 4. If you have children, calculating child support. 5. If maintenance is an issue, figuring out the amount, duration, and conditions for termination. The more of this you can figure out by agreement, the less expensive going through a divorce is likely to be. Of course, it is never really "cheap." However, you can make it less expensive that it would otherwise be.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/15/2011
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    Hire a lawyer who knows what to do, who you can trust to keep the costs down. There is a lot involved in getting a divorce, and you need someone you can rely on. I can help you with this. And I will tell you up front what it will cost to do this for you. Give me a call, make an appointment to come see me, and let's get moving on this for you. No charge for the telephone call and no charge for the first office visit.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 7/15/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    Transparency is a common factor in low cost divorces. Your spouse has to believe that you are being open and honest with her and you have to believe that about her. If you have children, you should try to agree on custody and visitation. There's a lot of uncertainty during the time leading up to a divorce, so sometimes it is difficult to focus on the children's best interests when a parent is rightfully concerned about their own future well-being. Each of you should gather and exchange all financial records, such as retirement and bank account statements and wage and income records. You should try to agree on how to divide the household furniture and furnishings and personal property, and if possible, the other assets. If you two cannot work it out by yourselves, you could also enlist the services of a mediator.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/15/2011
    Law Office of Margaret D. Wilson
    Law Office of Margaret D. Wilson | Margaret Wilson
    As an attorney specializing in low to middle income client's I often get asked how a party can keep their costs down. First, if a party hires an attorney they need to realize that every time they call their attorney they are billing you. Second, they should talk with their spouse to see if they can reach a settlement agreement regarding some or all of the issues such as debt division, property division, support, etc. If the spouses agree there is no reason for a long drawn out expensive battle. Third, a person should talk to attorneys to see what they can do to reduce the costs of litigation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/15/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    The best way to keep costs down is to settle the issues between the two of you before seeing a lawyer so all that needs to be done is make sure that you have covered everything you need to cover, and that the law would allow whatever agreement you make, and draft all of the paperwork and make sure the case is handled property by a lawyer once you agree. The second best way to save costs is to mediate the case and try to settle any issues you are having trouble with in that process. The main issues you need to deal with are custody, parenting time, child support, division of property, division of debt, and spousal support. However, there can be several ancillary issues that you would not be aware of unless you consult with a lawyer. The best advise I can give you is to schedule a consultation with a family lawyer to explain your situation, get an idea of the law that would apply to your case so you have the knowledge of how to approach the issues you need to settle, and then attempt to discuss and settle the case between you and your spouse; if you can do that, then see a lawyer to get everything drawn up in proper form and make sure you have covered everything you need to cover, file the case and schedule an uncontested divorce hearing.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/15/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Not hire a lawyer
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/15/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    argue as little as possible
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 7/15/2011
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