“Marriage is grand. Divorce is about Twenty Grand.”
- Jay Leno
Let’s face it: divorce can be expensive. Contested cases, as well as grey divorces, often lend themselves to higher legal fees that can result in financial hardships for both parties. While some pricey divorces are inevitable, there are ways to keep costs low and your bank account padded. Below, the staff at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. have compiled the top 5 money saving divorce strategies.
1. Hire an Attorney
You may think that hiring an attorney is counterintuitive to the act of saving money on your divorce. While this may be true in rare circumstances, such as in very simple uncontested cases, it is generally false.
Retaining a legitimate matrimonial law attorney, even for an uncontested matter, is a smart financial move. There are many instances where people will attempt to represent themselves, or turn to low-cost divorce centers, in an attempt to save money. This usually backfires because of the person’s lack of experience with matrimonial law and the court system. Your lawyer will be able to ensure that documents are drafted, filed, and served properly, all within the court’s required time frame. Paying one retainer before your case begins can save you thousands of dollars down the road.
Contested and more complicated actions always require the help of a divorce or family law attorney. Discovery, depositions, motion practice, and litigation, are all impossible for a layperson to tackle on their own. Don’t assume you can handle this on your own. Play it smart and hire a lawyer before you get in over your head.
2. Pitch In
Most family law attorneys bill their clients per hour, meaning you will be charged a set amount of money for each hour your lawyer spends working on your case. This includes locating financial records and tax returns, indexing account statements, insurance policies, and other assets. To help lessen the amount of time your attorney spends doing this kind of work, as well as to keep your bill to a minimum, try pitching in and helping with some of the legwork your case requires.
By using our free Financial Checklist, you can easily keep track of your assets, liabilities, properties, and various insurance accounts. Write down what statements and documents you have in your possession, then contact financial institutions to request others. When providing documents to your attorney, send them on a disc or flash drive, so the law firm’s staff can easily and quickly transfer the documents to your e-file.
Having a complete and organized index of all relevant financial information will not only make the discovery and equitable distribution phases of divorce easier, but lend a hand in accelerating the drafting of your Statement of Net Worth.
3. Be Rational
Divorce can be an emotional hard hitter, but it is important to think with your head and not your heart if you are trying to have a more cost effective case. Fighting fire with fire will have a huge negative impact on your financial future post-divorce.
At Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C., we have seen countless litigants fight over the little things, such as a work of art, a collectible, or a vehicle. These tangible assets can easily be replaced, and often for far less than it costs to duke it out in court and have a judge determine which party will retain ownership of the property. Sometimes the smart move involves cutting your losses and walking away from a battle.
More serious situations, such as being falsely accused of child abuse, also require rational thinking. You may want to be quick to defend yourself, but this tactic can often result in prolonged litigation, and heated arguments with your ex-spouse. Instead, contact your attorney immediately, and listen to their advice. Let them handle the matter, as they are experts and will be able to sort out the allegations. Thinking, and acting, irrationally, can cause more problems, and even hurt your relationship with your children.
4. Consider Alternatives to Litigation
Some New Yorkers are able to save big on their divorce by avoiding the court room. Litigation is expensive and time consuming, with especially complex cases taking years to be finalized. Speak to your attorney to determine which kind of divorce is right for you.
If you have an amicable relationship with your ex, then you may want to consider letting your attorney negotiate a settlement on your behalf. This can save you tens of thousands of dollars, as well as your time (which is priceless!).
Contested and high net worth actions will require quite a bit more work than their uncontested counterparts, however, they don’t always have to result in extensive litigation. Our dedicated attorneys routinely settle complicated matters before they are due to proceed to trial, thanks to their tenacity and experience with complex motion practice. We understand that litigating a divorce or family court case can be expensive, and we tirelessly fight for our client’s best interests and work towards keeping them out of the court room.
5. Be Open, Honest, and Trusting
The best tactic you can use to save money during your divorce is to be open and honest with your attorney. During your initial consultation, discuss your desired outcome regarding equitable distribution, child custody and support, alimony, etc. It is important that you and your prospective attorney are on the same page prior to your action being filed.
It is normal to change your mind regarding certain aspects of your divorce in the middle of your case, but you need to keep your lawyer informed. It is not uncommon for an attorney to spend days advocating for a certain position regarding custody or assets, which can become quite costly. Save your money and let your lawyer know if you have changed your mind.
Trusting your lawyer is imperative to the success of your case, as well as a proven method to keep your legal fees low. Your attorney has spent years learning and interpreting matrimonial and family law, and he or she is an expert in their field. Trust them to fight for your rights, and listen to them when they tell you the likely outcomes of a particular motion you want argued, or tactic you would like to try. Your attorney is ethically bound to represent your best interests, and they cannot do this if you are unwilling to place your case (and trust) in their hands.
Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. is a New York City based matrimonial and family law firm, specializing in complex divorce actions. For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, contact 718-875-7584, or visit us online.