Divorce can be a very expensive process. This is made all the more frustrating because, at the time of divorce, you may be in the most difficult financial position you have been in. Here are a few tips to try and keep costs low during the divorce process.
Do as much work as you can yourself
It is important to be knowledgeable about divorce so that you can make educated and economical decisions. Your lawyer can certainly teach you all you need to know about Ontario divorce law, but much of this can be learned on your own, saving vast amounts of legal fees and giving you some ownership of the process. This site is an excellent resource for legal and practical information. You may also find information you need on the website of the Attorney General.
Settle as soon as possible
Court should not be (and is not) the norm in family law. Most cases are settled privately. This saves money and time and allows you and your spouse to be in control of your own future. Some cases require litigation, but this should be viewed only as a last resort after all else has failed. Court is expensive both in terms of money and time. When working towards a settlement, it’s important to decide on those aspects that you and your spouse can agree on, first. This sets the stage for later agreement and builds trust and faith in each other, and in the process. You can then either compromise on the difficult issues or ask a court to decide a few remaining items. Meanwhile, much time, money and heartache will have been saved.
Beware of legal fees
Lawyers’ hourly billing can sometimes get out of control. Be sure that you know the amount of time that will be spent on your case and that you keep track of the time as it escalates. Frequent updates help to ensure that time is being well-spent and will allow you to know where to draw the line. Again, some of the work can be done by you so canvass that option with your lawyer as well. It is difficult to predict an actual fee for the service you will require, but lawyers should be able to give you an estimate of how much your case will cost.
Balance your costs and benefits
You must ensure that throughout the divorce process you are making level-headed decisions. It is rare in family law not to come to a point where it is more costly to continue negotiating and going to court than to reach a less lucrative settlement. Don’t be emotional about it. Don’t get into the trap of preferring to give your lawyer heaps of money rather than giving your spouse $500. Sometimes it really must be a business decision.