Five ways to keep your costs lower when divorcing
Divorce is often emotionally and financially challenging. While it’s unfortunately unavoidable to incur some costs, there are ways to keep your overall spending to a minimum. As you embark on the difficult process of divorce, consider these five cost-cutting strategies.
If you want to ensure you are fully informed during every step of your divorce, hire a knowledgeable Lake Charles family law attorney with The Johnson Firm. To schedule your consultation, contact us online or call (337) 433-1414.
1. Create a budget
Creating a budget tailored to the costs associated with your divorce can help you stay on top of your spending. First, outline your income sources and fixed expenses, such as your mortgage or rent, and determine how much you have left over for divorce-related costs.
Next, list out all of the expected costs associated with your divorce. This may include court fees, attorney’s fees, private investigator’s fees, travel expenses, and any other miscellaneous costs you could incur–an attorney can help you estimate some of those expenses during your consultation.
Consider creating a spreadsheet to track each expense and its due date. From there, divide each expense by the number of pay periods until it’s due, and add that amount to your budget. This strategy will help you determine which costs to prioritize and which are worth delaying (when possible).
2. Consider a collaborative divorce
In a collaborative divorce, both parties agree to work together toward an amicable resolution outside of court. This process is often more cost-effective than a traditional divorce proceeding since it requires fewer court appearances and legal fees.
Additionally, because it’s a negotiation process, both parties have more control over the outcome of their divorce settlement. This means that couples are more likely to reach agreements that meet the needs of both parties and minimize unnecessary costs post-divorce.
There’s only one potential downside to collaborative divorce: both parties must be willing to cooperate. If there’s a lot of tension between the two of you, this method may not be the best option. Our Lake Charles family law attorneys can help you assess your specific situation and determine if this route is right for you.
3. Work with a therapist
Divorce attorneys wear many hats, but it’s not always the best idea to rely on them for emotional support — especially when you’re concerned about cost. Therapists are specifically trained to provide the tools needed to cope with the difficult feelings that come along with divorce.
Many therapists are relatively inexpensive, which can ultimately save you from spending more on legal fees when you’re tempted to sift through your emotions in your attorney’s office.
Additionally, working with a therapist can save you from making costly mistakes or rash decisions in the heat of an argument. It can also help you learn how to better communicate with your ex, making it easier to resolve disagreements outside of court.
4. Organize your divorce documents
Gathering the necessary paperwork for your divorce is a time-consuming task — and if you’re paying an attorney by the hour, that means more money out of your pocket. The more organized you are going into the divorce process, the less time your attorney will need to spend collecting and organizing documents, which results in fewer fees.
Begin by making a list of all the documents you’ll need to provide to your attorney. This may include tax returns, pay stubs, marriage certificates, bank account information and statements, retirement plan statements, and any other relevant documents.
Once you have a plan, create a filing system that will help you stay organized as you gather each document. This can be as simple as creating a folder for each category of documents or setting up an online filing system with folders, labels, and tags.
5. Simplify your retirement funds
Retirement funds are among the most complex — and expensive — assets to divide during a divorce. In most cases, a legal document known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is required to grant one spouse the right to receive a portion of the other’s retirement benefits. Drafting and executing this document takes time, which means added legal fees — but there are ways to simplify the process.
One option is to swap other assets for the retirement funds so that it’s an equitable division without dividing the retirement account itself. For example, you may be able to negotiate an arrangement where one spouse keeps a high-value asset like the house and the other keeps their retirement fund.
Alternatively, you can consider rolling the retirement fund into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and then transferring the money to your soon-to-be ex. IRA division doesn’t require a QDRO, so it may be a less expensive option.
Learn more about your options
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to divorce, so the best way to save money on your divorce is to understand all of the options available to you. Creative problem-solving and a robust legal background can open up a world of possibilities when it comes to finding an affordable resolution — and a skilled divorce attorney can offer both.
At The Johnson Firm, we handle each case with the understanding that every divorce is unique in both budget and circumstance. When you turn to us during this challenging time, we’ll work closely with you to create a customized solution that meets your needs.
Start your journey today by calling (337) 433-1414 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you find the most cost-effective path forward.