We’ve all heard the horror stories about divorces that go off the rails and cost parties a fortune. It is popular wisdom that divorces are expensive. However, this does not have to be case, and there are many ways that parties can keep costs to a minimum during the divorce process. In fact, depending on the attorneys involved with the case, often the largest driving factor of costs is the parties themselves. So how do you lower your divorce costs?
1) Choose the right attorney personality. If you are going to use attorneys, selecting the correct types of attorney personalities is going to be critical. If you are going to try to use the meanest, “bulldog” attorney on the block, that person is not going to be motivated to find quick solutions for you. At the end of the day, attorneys charge for their time, so using your lawyer’s time to fight over small issues gets quite expensive quickly. If you and your spouse are serious about keeping costs down, you would both be well advised to find lawyers who aim to provide candid, problem-solving advise. A lawyer who is looking to sabotage or prolong a case should raise red flags.
2) Prepare to be patient. Remember that the divorce process in Oregon is more of a marathon than a sprint. Even parties who are fairly well aligned in their goals will find that the process takes time. Courts take time to schedule hearings, parties require time to exchange discovery, and delays routinely occur. That said, utilize your lawyer’s time wisely from the beginning. Often, clients will bombard their newly-hired attorney with phone calls and e-mails, disregarding how quickly time spent in responding to those messages can add up. Instead, try to consolidate your questions into a minimal number of emails or phone calls to your lawyer. Often, you will find you receive more complete answers if issues are addressed all at once, rather than piecemeal.
3) Be organized. In all likelihood, your lawyer will request a lot of financial documentation from you. Spend the time to organize this information for your lawyer. You don’t want to pay a paralegal or legal staff $100 / hour to organize bank statements and tax returns that you could have put in order for free. This doesn’t mean the law office will not need to spend some time organizing as well. However, the cost difference between legal staff time spent organizing bankers’ boxes full of haphazard papers vs. organized binders (or organized digital files) can be very substantial.
4) Review cost-benefit analysis of positions. Trial is generally the most expensive part of a divorce. If you are asking for temporary relief during your divorce, including temporary spousal or child support, you may have an entire second “mini-trial” before the final trial. Before you commit to having these hearings, look at what the estimated costs will be. By way of hypothetical example, does it make sense to have a temporary hearing that will cost $5,000-$7,000 when the best case outcome from that hearing would be $3,000 in temporary support? Sometimes the biggest cost savings come from the issues you choose to forego based on an honest cost/benefit analysis.
5) Be reasonable in settlement negotiations. Most cases settle short of trial, in part because of the high cost and uncertainty of trial outcomes. Perhaps the biggest cost-savings measures the parties can take is to engage in reasonable settlement negotiations. What is “reasonable” under your circumstance will require a candid conversation with your lawyer. There is truth to the notion that a “good” settlement leaves everybody a little bit unhappy, so this may require concessions. However, giving a little bit in settlement often results in relief from the uncertainty of trial outcomes, while also saving the often-large costs of a trial.
Contact our Oregon Divorce attorneys to schedule a discounted consultation. Learning about the divorce process for the first time can be overwhelming. It is not something that you need to do alone - let us help. Call us today to set up a free consultation with an experienced Oregon Family Law Lawyer and discuss the best legal approach for your case.
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