How to Have an Inexpensive Divorce - Collaborative Family Law Association of St. Louis

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How to Have an Inexpensive Divorce

Susan Amato

No one wants a long, expensive, and contentious divorce.  While sometimes unavoidable, there are many things that you and your soon-to-be former spouse can do to keep the process of the dissolution of your marriage as civil and efficient as possible.

7 Tips to Lower Your Divorce Costs

1. Understand Your “Process Options”

Most divorces end with an agreement not a trial, but the path to the agreement can look very different depending on the process you follow.  It’s important to choose a process that gives you and your spouse as much help as you need to reach an agreement, not more and not less. Do your homework so that you understand the differences between traditional litigation, a collaborative process, mediation and a simple non-contested divorce, before you dive in to the legal process and substantive negotiations. Choose a process that is most likely to work for your situation.  A meeting with your spouse and a mediator or divorce coach can help you to assess what path may work best for your family.

2. Be Organized

Regardless of the process you use, your lawyer will need detailed financial and other information from you throughout your case. Giving your lawyer the needed information in a timely and organized way will help your lawyer to be more efficient.  Follow up phone calls and the need for multiple edits will add to the cost of your legal bills.

3. Try not to Scare Each Other

Often during a divorce process, trust is low and anxiety is high.  Making unanticipated financial moves or taking unilateral action regarding your children can set off an adversarial snowball which can be difficult to stop.  If you and your spouse can manage finances wisely and treat each other fairly while your marriage is unwinding you will avoid expensive interventions by your lawyers and the court while you are making your final decisions.

4. Manage Your Emotions

Strong emotions are normal during a divorce process but they can get in the way of making good business and financial decisions.  Working with a therapist as you move through this transition can help you to keep your cool during a difficult time.

5. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Disagreements over household goods, furnishings or personal items can take on emotional significance well beyond their financial value.  Talk with your mediator, lawyer or therapist about ways to approach division of these items in an orderly way without involving your lawyers in those negotiations.

6. Minimize New Relationships

Even though your marriage is ending, the introduction of a new person in your life before things are finalized can cause strong emotional reactions in your spouse.  This is can be even more so if children are introduced to new relationships.  Extra marital relationships can sometimes impact your financial settlement, but even when that is not the case, these relationships can make your divorce more contentious and expensive.  Waiting to move on until your marriage has ended will help the dissolution go more smoothly.

7. Say Yes When You Can

When dealing with your custody arrangements, if your spouse needs accommodation, whether to reschedule a weekend, or have a child for a special occasion, say yes if you can.  This will set the groundwork for a cooperative co-parenting relationship rather than starting things off on an adversarial track.

It takes two to keep things from escalating from a problem to be solved to a war to be waged, but if you follow the above steps you will increase the chances that the dissolution of your marriage, while tough territory under any circumstances, will be as civil and efficient as possible.

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