Saving Money on your Divorce: Preparing
Getting a divorce can be costly here in Bucks County, but you can make the best of what could be a bad situation. If your relationship is ending, you should not allow the cost of a divorce to prevent you from starting your new life. This is especially true if your spouse abuses you and wants to manipulate you through the process (driving up legal bills).
How Much Will a Divorce Cost?
In most cases, the cost will vary. Carefully read the costs and fees spelled out in our representation agreement before retaining us. There will be an upfront retainer (like a security deposit). You then will be charged hourly for our services and your costs will be drawn down from the retainer.
There are also fees for filing legal documents, using experts, obtaining custody evaluations, and other costs. Most law firms bill their time in six-minute increments. Partners, associates, and paralegals bill at different rates.
We disclose our costs early in the process, so there will be no surprises. Most of the fees are incurred when you need to appear in court. Courts are very busy and cases back up. Depending on the scheduling and how a day goes, we may spend a lot of time waiting. We also spend time preparing for the matter before going to court.
Simplifying the Divorce Makes It More Affordable
As your case’s complexity increases, so do the costs. That can come about in three ways:
- The facts are complicated
- One or both parties are combative and unreasonable
- A combination of the two
We need a good grasp of your case’s issues and facts. That takes time which costs money. We may also need to hire an accountant if one or both parties own a business or substantial investments are involved. Relationships with children, who may have special needs, and how they should reconcile with the divorce may require the help of a child psychologist.
The divorce will get costly if one or both spouses see the legal proceedings as another venue to drag the other through the mud and make their lives miserable. The more in dispute, the more time we spend:
- In court
- Writing letters
- Writing, responding to, and filing motions
- In meetings with clients
- On phone calls with opposing counsel
We may also hire a mediator to try to get the parties to agree to put out the fire. In the worst-case scenario, the parties battle it out during a trial and then stretch the process further with appeals.
Do the Homework
You will save some money if you do a good job gathering and organizing evidence. The more complicated your financial and family lives, the more documents and evidence there will be. This can involve:
- Tax returns
- Bank records
- Investment accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Documents about a family-owned business
- Stock options
- Job benefits
- Titles to vehicles, real estate, and artwork
- Documents of a child’s school performance and physical, emotional, or psychological disabilities
Our time costs you money. The more documents you obtain, the fewer we must try to find. The better you organize these records, the less time we must spend putting them together, and the less time it takes to review them.
You May Qualify for a Flat Fee
The simpler your lives, the lower your cost. If you have no assets, custody, or alimony issues and only need a simple divorce, you may only pay a flat fee (assuming nothing unexpected comes up. If it does, we will charge extra by the hour). This may be because you simply lack these issues or the two of you have a valid, comprehensive prenuptial agreement that neither of you challenges.
No Matter What You Can Afford, We Can Answer Questions
We understand our clients do not have limitless resources. If you are considering a divorce and want to learn more about what it may cost, contact Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., today to see how we can help you.