For many people, the shock of being served with divorce papers is followed by an even greater shock when they find out what it will cost them to hire a divorce lawyer. The initial shock is generally followed by a lesser (or bigger) “after shock” each month when they get the bill.
There are some options to controlling your divorce costs. Many people opt for the “do it yourself” method, or they hire a document preparer and try to stay out of court. These approaches may work well if there are truly no issues and the parties understand the nature and extent of their property and other issues. Divorce mediation is another option. A skilled divorce mediator can assist the parties in identifying and resolving the unique issues in their divorce and then help them prepare their own negotiated marital settlement agreement and cost only a fraction of what a divorce attorney might charge either party.
If indeed you decide it is best for you to hire a family law attorney to represent you in your divorce, remember they are not all the same. Many of these gunslingers enjoy a good fight, and are only too happy to brawl on your dime. They may be intentionally contentious in their dealings with opposing counsel just to force matters to be litigated. Others are negotiators who may go to court only when matters cannot be settled, most are somewhere in between. Be sure you know what kind of attorney you are hiring, as it may save you money in your divorce.
When doing the divorce accounting, do not forget to figure yourself into the equation. While an attorney’s overly aggressive tactics may be a source of high divorce costs, an unreasonable party can be even more to blame. Taking unreasonable or extreme positions that cannot be compromised forces you to litigate the issue. The more you go to court, the more your divorce will cost. Also, the level of contention has a big effect on the cost of your divorce. If you are busy adding fuel to the fire, the divorce price tag only goes up. So try to bury some of those old bones of contention.