Researchers estimate that 40-50% of first marriages will end in divorce1, and successive marriages have even less chance of survival. Although Virginia has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country2, many circumstances put a marriage at a higher risk for divorce.
Sometimes you can resolve an issue that might lead to divorce and salvage the relationship. However, when divorce is the only solution to a troubled marriage, it can be an expensive endeavor. The choices you make during the process can have a direct, monetary impact on the amount you pay for the dissolution of your marriage. Many factors affect this price, but these seven tips can help you control the cost of your divorce proceedings.
1. Learn the Divorce Process
Once you’ve decided to seek a divorce, it’s important to understand the divorce process. This includes Virginia’s statues and laws that impact your proceedings. The more you know, the less questions you’ll have to ask your attorney. Thus, saving time, which translates to money. When choosing a divorce lawyer, do so wisely. While you want to save money, cheap service from inexperienced legal counsel can cost you more than you saved, in the long run.
2. Ask Your Attorney
Good (and honest) attorneys can guide you to potential alternatives to save time and money. However, if litigation is your only option, a lawyer can give you an idea of what to expect financially. Following a discussion of your assets, debts and preferred settlement, your attorney might also be able to estimate the judge’s decisions.
3. Know Your Options
In Virginia, you can file for a fault-based or no-fault divorce and a divorce can be contested or uncontested. The cheapest route is an uncontested, no-fault divorce. Even if you have a legitimate reason to file a fault-based divorce, you could save money by opting to file on a no-fault basis. But just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean it’s your best option, so discuss each scenario thoroughly with your lawyer first.
If you and your spouse can agree on the conditions of the divorce, uncontested divorce filings are substantially simpler, which translates to quicker and less expensive. Fault-based divorces are almost always contested. Your lawyer will have much more to prepare for a contested divorce, which leads to higher fees. Virginia has adopted an equitable division law for dividing up marital property and debts, so any option should include a fair division between spouses.
4. Use Time Efficiently
Attorneys charge an hourly rate, so use your time wisely. If your lawyer needs information gathered, see if you can do this for your lawyer, it will help minimize the time spent on your case. Instead of getting into lengthy phone or face-to-face conversations, see if you can send information via email or fax to save time. Whatever you do, don’t waste time extolling the latest outrage you’ve suffered from your spouse; call a friend instead. Keep all your attorney/client conversations on track by relating only relevant information.
5. Share Information
To make proceedings easier, and thus cheaper, exchange information voluntarily. This includes details about your income, assets and debts. By volunteering documentation with balances for your retirement accounts, home mortgage and car loans, no one wastes time gathering this information and you save money. Freely exchanging information with your spouse reduces attorney fees and other costs on both sides, so it’s mutually beneficial.
6. Get Professional Valuations
When you need a price tag placed on high ticket items, such as your home, car or valuable personal items, then always seek professional appraisals. Also, instead of each spouse paying for separate valuations of the same assets, share the cost. For example, placing a value on real estate can be accomplished by looking at the tax appraised value, speaking to a real estate agent or paying for a professional appraisal. Using professionals guarantees everything is priced appropriately.
7. Let It Go
Fighting over every little thing, especially those you don’t even care about, could end up costing you more than the item is actually worth. The more you fight, the faster your attorney’s fees rise, trying to reach a settlement. The fastest way to rack up extra costs is trying to irritate your spouse in senseless battles. To lower your cost, try reaching a preliminary agreement prior to involving your attorney.
Hire the Law Firm for Men
Divorce is an extremely personal experience that could sweep you into a lengthy court battle that ends up costing you a lot more than you’re prepared to spend. While an attorney isn’t required during a divorce proceeding, it’s highly advisable, especially for complex cases. If you’re a man, hiring a trained divorce lawyer for men is critical. The Firm For Men fights for men to have fair representation in divorce proceedings, including spousal and child support claims. Call us today at 757-383-9184 to schedule a consultation for your family law matter.