If you can afford a divorce lawyer, you should hire one. There’s too much at stake and too many complexities in divorce to risk “winging it” without expert advice. However, you can save some money by delaying hiring a lawyer while you complete a number of tasks:
- File for divorce yourself using forms available on your state’s court system website
- Use a certified divorce planner or certified divorce financial analyst who charge substantially less than lawyers, to
- Help you organize your financial paperwork
- Help you prepare your financial disclosure statement
- Discuss with you other divorce-related issues such as pensions, alimony deductions, etc.
- Consult a divorce coach, if necessary, regarding organizing your finances and dealing with non-financial issues such as caring for, and making decisions about your children
Note that you should use this approach only if:
- You have consulted with a matrimonial attorney who indicates that there are no pressing matters requiring immediate legal representation such as pendente lite (temporary) support or custody issues
- You and your children are not at risk of harm from your spouse
- You have very little money available for attorneys’ fees
- There are experienced CDPs or CDFAs in your area
There’s another approach to legal representation that also saves fees by reducing lawyers’ billable hours. It’s called “unbundled representation” and it’s available in most states. In unbundled representation arrangements, lawyers are paid to handle only certain parts of a case. I will be discussing unbundled representation in a later blog in this series.
If you are going through a divorce, you have enough problems. You don’t need to add a crushing legal bill to the pile. Under the right circumstances, you can limit legal fees by limiting the amount of time your lawyer spends on your case.
Learn more about saving legal fees in Larry Sarezky’s new book Divorce, Simply Stated. www.DivorceSimplyStated.com