Before we show you how you can save on the costs of divorce, let’s get this out of the way: do not rely on so-called “free” or low-cost do-it-yourself divorce forms. Virginia is not only a great state, it is unique, with divorce laws that do not align with every other state. Divorce is never a one-size-fits-all event, so please save yourself time and heartache by trying these sure-fire cost savers instead.
Working Together Can Save You Money
Contested divorce in Virginia is far costlier than uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse can find a way to settle property division, child custody, visitation and spousal support before contacting an attorney, you will both save a lot of money.
Options for getting the heavy lifting done ahead of the lawyers:
- Work with each other to decide who gets what real estate, how debts are to be divided, and how you will divide retirement, savings, and stock accounts AND stick to it
- After you do reach out to an experienced Virginia divorce attorney, make plain your desire to hold negotiation conferences, settlement conferences, or collaborative divorce; your attorney is duty-bound to follow your wishes if you are serious about avoiding litigation
Getting a Separation Agreement Can Save You Money
You may think you can save court costs and some attorney fees by attempting to separate on your own, without legal support. Unfortunately this penny-wise, pound-foolish strategy will not hold the legal weight of using an attorney to document a separation.
With a separation agreement in hand, you both know the starting date of the waiting period, even if you have not settled every other aspect of separation. After six months (with no children) or a year (with children), you again contact a family law attorney and start the uncontested divorce process.
A separation agreement crafted by your divorce attorney is evidence that you have met the requirements under Code of Virginia § 20-91, (9)(a):
On the application of either party if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year. In any case where the parties have entered into a separation agreement and there are no minor children either born of the parties, born of either party and adopted by the other or adopted by both parties, a divorce may be decreed on application if and when the husband and wife have lived separately and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for six months.
Picking Your Battles Can Save You Money
What do you treasure more, your freedom from a broken marriage, or possessions? While you should never sign a blank check, you should also avoid getting hung up on division of the marital property. The faster you get through property division, child custody, child visitation and spousal support, the faster you get on with your life.
An easy way to move the property settlement along without an attorney is to make a comprehensive list of the property to be divided:
- Real estate including vacation homes, time shares, rental properties, and storage units
- Automobiles, RVs, ATVs, boats, trailers, and lawn equipment
- Tools, personal effects, books, electronics, computers, and sports equipment
- Savings, checking, retirement and investment accounts
- Artwork, jewelry, clothing, footwear, watches, furs, collectibles, and antiques
- Intellectual property (royalties and patents)
- Marital debt
Within each category, rank the items as most important to you to least important. If you have 20 items on a list, be ready to give away the bottom 10. If you both approach the uncontested divorce and property settlement with generous hearts (realizing you are literally buying your way to freedom), you will be surprised how little you really have to lose. You may also be surprised at how little of your attorneys’ time you both will need to get through property settlement.
Knowing How Your Attorney Charges Can Save You Money
When shopping for a Virginia divorce lawyer, be honest about your financial constraints. While your attorney cannot control the Circuit Court judge or your wife’s actions, you can strive to limit your own attorney’s billable hours by understanding fee structure. Billable hours include everything:
- Communication in any form (text, email, letter, telephone, in-person)
- Court time
- Conferences, meetings, consultations
- Research, depositions, filings
A typical fee structure is to retain your attorney’s services by paying a set amount at the outset of legal work. Your attorney bills hours toward that retainer. As the hours climb, you replenish the retainer.
For economical, efficient help with your Virginia divorce, The Firm For Men is the answer. Contact us online or by telephoning 757-383-9184 today. We value your time, respect your money, and fight for your rights.