Two things that can get out of control before you know it during a divorce is cost and stress. Here are a few tips to keep both down:
Some divorces can feel like a part-time job. You can make your life easier by doing a comprehensive document organizational effort at the start. Whether it be electronic, paper or both, establish a system for knowing what is where, so every time you need something, it doesn’t require a 20-minute hunt.
Try to work it out before lawyering up
If it’s an amicable divorce, have a frank talk about your thoughts and feelings about your split. This should include property and assets, arrangements for children, health insurance and other necessities and obligations.
A good way to kick things off is to make a list of everything you and your spouse agree on, then expand from there. It may be possible to iron out most, if not all, issues without high-priced referees in the room.
Consider mediation or a collaborative divorce – avoid litigation
Mediation will save you both stress and money. However, this only works if you and your spouse are still on relatively good terms. The neutral mediator will guide you both through the negotiations, but this person does not have any decision-making power.
If mediation isn’t possible, or there are complex legal and financial issues to consider, then a collaborative divorce may be a better option. In this instance both parties have lawyers, meaning a four-way negotiation, but the proceedings are handled out of court. This tactic is designed to save time and money, though it still requires some flexibility and good will.
If saving money and keeping stress down are truly your goals, avoid litigation. If the collaborative approach fails, you will have to resort to litigation. Litigation is costly and nearly always ends with bad blood. The whole process starts from scratch, including new lawyers, and a much longer, bitter divorce is all but guaranteed.
Efficiency is key to limiting your lawyer’s billable hours
Some lawyers charge in 7.5-minute segments (eight segments per hour), though some will be willing to negotiate an hourly fee or even a flat fee. Either way, sending your lawyer long emails or dozens of short emails should be avoided.
As thoughts or issues come to mind, make a list and when you have several items ready, send them together in one, succinct email.
The same goes for lengthy phone calls. Your lawyer is not there to listen to your grievances. Keep calls concise and on point.
More stress reduction tips
Even the smoothest divorce can be stressful. Listen to your body. There are no awards for powering through a divorce without some self-care.