“How can I get the cheapest divorce possible?”
I get a lot of questions about how to get the cheapest divorce possible. And for good reason: the average cost of divorce in California is $27,000 – per person. That’s insane. At Hello Divorce, we’re proud that we’ve managed to lower the average cost of divorce for our users to just $1,500. We’ve done that by speeding up the paperwork process through our Divorce Navigator app, which helps you complete all of your California divorce paperwork online through a guided series of questions. Save your work as you go, work at your own pace. When you’re done, the click of a button lets you print your official California divorce paperwork, with our easy to follow instructions for how to file.
Don’t pay a lawyer for the things you can do on your own.
Most lawyers have no incentive to help you speed through the divorce process, because your quick, cheap divorce only means less money on the table for them. You can save a lot by being judicious about when and how you work with an attorney.
You don’t need a lawyer to fill out your divorce paperwork. You can save quite a bit by completing that on your own and asking your lawyer or a paralegal (even cheaper) to review it for you to confirm everything looks correct before you file. In fact, before you even start working with a lawyer, make sure to ask whether they offer “unbundled services” – meaning, a la carte services you can pick and choose from as you wish, as opposed to a hefty monthly retainer.
At Hello Divorce, we offer a wide range of transparent, flat-rate services, from document review to child and spousal support calculation, to mediation, legal or litigation coaching, trial briefs, child support mediation and so much more. Prices are all flat-rate, so you know exactly how much you’ll be paying and what you’ll get in return. See the full list of our services here.
Ask your ex to cover your legal fees.
The court is able to award fees in the amount that are “reasonably necessary” to properly litigate and/or negotiate a divorce. “Need based” fees can be requested at any point during your divorce. The judge will look at both your and your ex’s need for funds and at your ability to pay. Even if both spouses are well off, the court can award fees if one spouse has significantly more income, assets and/or liquidity.
A word of caution: this isn’t an easy process – but, it could be worth the time and save you money if the judge rules in your favor.
Consider the tax implications of divorce.
Beth Logan, an Enrolled Agent with Kozlog Tax Advisers recommends weighing the tax implications when it comes to decisions around separating marital assets. She explains that different assets have different tax implications:
“A taxpayer in a lower bracket may pay no tax on the gain of a long-term capital asset, while a high-income earner could pay as much as 20 percent. Another asset, like a home, may have no tax implication for either spouse. Therefore, giving the lower taxed spouse the taxable assets and the higher-taxed spouse the untaxed assets will result in more after tax value for both. Understanding the after-tax value of each asset to each spouse can help a couple save on taxes.”
Use your divorce lawyer’s time wisely.
The emails and phone calls you make to your lawyer add up. So, don’t email questions when they pop up; instead, keep a draft open and send one email, once a week at most, and only if you truly need to. You might even find you are able to find the answers you need on your own. (To state the obvious: the articles and resources on Hello Divorce are a treasure trove of information, so search our site first!)
Working with a paralegal or a legal document assistant when you have paperwork or questions about paperwork can save you money.
And, when your lawyer asks you to do something: do it.
“If your attorney is asking for you to create a budget, to meet with an accountant or have the home appraised it is probably for good reason, says Melissa Fecak, founder of South Jersey Divorce Solutions. “If you then appear in your lawyer’s office or in court unprepared, you will have wasted attorney’s fees, time (where you probably had to take off of work, and are losing money there too), and you may even be subject to sanctions or other financial ramifications. It also costs you almost nothing to collect you last year’s credit card statements or bank statements. If your attorney has to gather them and go through them, you are paying for his or her time.”
And as lovely as your lawyer may be, remember – they’re there to work for you, not to be your friend. “One of the things I always try to impress upon clients is that I am not a therapist. I understand and feel for them in this difficult time. I truly do care about their feelings and needs. However, every time a client is calling me to complain about what a jerk their spouse is it costs him or her money,” said Ms. Fecak. She adds, “If they have a question about their case, custody, support, any legal issue – then they should call me and we will discuss the question. But if they just need to vent or want to complain about their soon-to-be-ex-spouse, it is less expensive and more helpful to contact a therapist. Like most attorneys, I can happily refer my clients to several counselors and therapists who will be happy to help them deal with the emotional issues.”
At the end of the day, getting the cheapest divorce possible comes down to this: your ability to track down documentation on your own, and your commitment to educating yourself as much as possible about the divorce process.
Do you want the cheapest divorce possible? Schedule your FREE 15-minute divorce strategy call now with a member of our legal team to discuss the most affordable, efficient way to proceed with your divorce.