It’s one of the first questions my clients ask. How much is this going to cost?
The answer of course is a pineapple. It depends very much on you and how you are going to handle it.
Here’s five things you can do to save money on your divorce:
1. Stay out of court
Going to court should be an absolute last resort. Court proceedings are expensive, nasty, emotionally draining and not rewarding. Ultimately if you are one of the very small number of cases which proceed to a final hearing, you will have a decision imposed on you by someone who doesn’t know you, or your children. Even if you “win” you will come away with certain aspects of the process and the decision that you are not happy about nor comfortable with.
Ask your lawyer about other options rather than going to court. There are several other approaches you can try. Mediation, negotiation and collaboration are a few.
2. Learn to communicate with your ex, respectfully and effectively
This won’t come easily and it will take time. Practice and persistence will be important. Use email or a messaging app like Divvito. Resist the temptation to fire straight back, whether it be email, text or face to face. Use the 30 minute rule or walk around the block before responding. Be respectful and limit your interaction to the things you need to say, leave out the things you might only want to say.
It won’t be easy but the more you are able to communicate with your partner, personally without the use of lawyers, the cheaper your divorce will be. A lot of the costs in legal matters often occur in correspondence wars between lawyers. Don’t let this happen to you. Work at it. Don’t give up. Give your ex the benefit of the doubt sometimes.
3. Get your documents organised
If your separation involves a division of your property it will be necessary for each of you to disclose your financial position to the other. This will involve providing documents such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements. Rather than have your lawyer organise these documents, organise them yourself. Make them easy to identify and easy to follow. Label each PDF descriptively so that everyone can see immediately what the document is from the PDF label.
Organise these PDFs into files and share them in Dropbox. This way they can be securely shared with everyone who needs to see them.
4. Find someone to talk to
When separation occurs you are going to be emotionally vulnerable. You are dealing with a whole range of emotions. Anger, fear, regret, sadness will probably visit you at some stage.You won’t always be yourself and you won’t always think straight. Your family and friends mean well but they will be partisan, on one side or the other. Their input won’t always be helpful.
Finding someone completely objective, unknown to you and your partner previously, is a great way of getting a fresh and independent perspective and helping you marshal your thoughts for the future. This might cost you some money in the short term if you decide to talk to a counsellor but in the long term it will help. Being able to unload your thoughts to an independent person can be therapeutic and restorative. It can lead to better decision making. This will save you money and help you feel better sooner.
5. Don’t use your lawyer as your counsellor
There are going to be times during the separation process when you will feel sick in the stomach. Whether it is an unpleasant telephone call or interaction with your ex, a legal letter or something else.
When these times occur resist the urge to call your lawyer straight away. Ask yourself “Do I really need advice about this? Can it wait until there is an opportunity later?”
Approaching these moments will get you out of the legal, adversarial mindset and save you money.
Andrew Capelin is an experienced family lawyer and mediator and the principal of Capelin Law. You can get in touch here.