GETTING DIVORCED IS OFTEN AN EXPENSIVE ENDEAVOR. WHY DOES IT COST SO MUCH? AND WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
It’s a crass saying, but often true: “It’s cheaper to keep her.” The same goes for him, too. The unfortunate reality is that getting divorced can be expensive when spouses disagree. And if they’re getting divorced, chances are they disagree on many things.
HERE ARE SOME COMMON ISSUES THAT DRIVE UP THE COST OF THE DIVORCE PROCESS: DON’T BE AFRAID TO SPEAK OPENLY TO YOUR ATTORNEY ABOUT THE COST OF THE CASE.
Who makes major life decisions for them? Who spends time with them? Who gets to go on vacation with them? How do you handle extracurricular activities? What if they have special medical needs?
Are you in the red or in the black? Are you both on the mortgage, or is one person on the title but not the mortgage? Is there a home equity line of credit? Are there multiple properties in different counties, states, or even countries? Can you agree to sell or keep? Are there funds to buy out the other person’s interest?
This is where many cases go off the rails. Alimony is entirely appropriate in many cases, but how much is paid and for what length of time is often the subject of intense and expensive debate.
CHILD ABUSE CLAIMS
This is a lightning rod issue that can quickly become the battle cry of a case. If child abuse has truly occurred during the marriage, then be prepared for an arduous and lengthy trial.
DRUG AND/OR ALCOHOL ABUSE
This is more common than you may think, and proving such abuse isn’t as simple as pointing to a Facebook post or text message. Attorneys must follow specific rules of evidence. If they don’t then your claim won’t make it past the allegation stage of the case.
This is also an increasingly common issue. If you want to make this a central pillar of your case, be prepared in most cases to budget for an expert. Psychologists and psychiatrists don’t come cheap.
Is this a close-knit family business or a large company with hundreds of employees? Are there restricted stocks? Goal-based bonuses or commissions? What level of control does the spouse exert over the direction and finances of the company? Is the spouse hiding money in the company’s assets? Is the spouse using company funds as personal funds?
INCOMPLETE FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE
The law requires financial affidavits and mutual disclosure of a comprehensive list of financial documents – things like bank statements, credit card statements, tax returns, retirement statements, etc. Often attorneys spend weeks or months chasing after their clients to obtain these documents, spending a lot of the client’s money in the process.
HOW CAN YOU REDUCE THE CHANCES THAT YOUR DIVORCE IS GOING TO COST MORE THAN YOU ANTICIPATE? HERE ARE 4 SIMPLE TIPS:
Let your attorney know your financial means at the beginning of the case.
It’s difficult to see beyond your present circumstances, but that’s why you’re hiring an attorney. They can give you a realistic outlook on what to expect. Pursuing certain positions may be more than you can afford.
Don’t force your attorney to continually follow up with you, nagging you for information that was requested weeks or months ago.
Setting realistic expectations at the outset will help prevent chasing arguments that have little chance of success, and will hopefully promote similar thinking by your spouse.
Don’t be afraid to speak openly to your attorney about the cost of the case. They want to get paid for the work they’re doing just as much as you want to make sure that you’re paying for work that truly needs to be done and will advance the cause of your case.