If concerns about the financial cost of divorce are keeping you trapped in a hopeless marriage, you’re not alone.
In my experience of over 20 years of exclusive family law practice, concerns about financial costs and the children are the two most common reasons why spouses avoid or postpone divorce.
Financial concerns often include fear of giving away hard-earned money to their spouse and not having enough left to meet their own financial needs – and how long they might be tied to their spouse financially.
On top of that, there is the common concern based on a widespread mistrust of lawyers – fed by not just the media, but also the many horror stories of our neighbors, family, and friends. There is the popular perception of lawyers putting billable hours ahead of their clients’ needs. By the same token, many divorce lawyers expect you to write them blank checks – one after the other – with no apparent end in sight – as you remain no closer to being divorced.
So, it’s not surprising that many people considering divorce view the cost of lawyers as a big unknown and fear walking away with nothing once the divorce is final. But here are 4 powerful things you can do right now:
1. Be ruthlessly focused when seeking out the right divorce and family lawyer.
You might start by recognizing that not all family lawyers are created equally. Hiring the right attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make when starting the divorce process. Be sure to seek out a good experienced attorney that uses a conciliatory problem-solving and settlement approach, instead of a belligerent gladiator who simply likes to fight.
What you might not know is the best and most reputable family lawyers can actually save you money by using their expertise for cost-effective settlement strategies, including, divorce mediation, for example, and creative problem-solving.
And an experienced family lawyer can generally give you an estimate of costs based on the specific legal services best for your circumstances.
Finally, make sure your lawyer will keep you informed of each next step of the divorce advised, along with the likely costs and implications. After all, your lawyer can avoid key issues and provisions being overlooked that can land you in court after the divorce.
It can be far more expensive to pay an attorney to try and fix a bad divorce judgment after the fact than to have a competent family lawyer in your corner in the first place. Overlooking such key issues not only can harm you financially, but it can also require costly and unpredictable legal action to correct. And when it comes to things like alimony, and dividing retirement plans, premarital assets, inheritances, and businesses, you will generally learn what is fair under New Jersey law.
And perhaps most important is making sure your children’s needs in the divorce are properly taken care of.
2. Know what you have.
If you’re not familiar with the marital finances, it can cost more in legal fees to ensure you get a viable and fair financial settlement in the divorce. Therefore, you should be aware of all assets and debts in either or both spouse’s names.
3. Know your expenses.
It is also important to know your monthly expenses and to anticipate what they will be after the divorce. This knowledge can go a long way in helping to achieve the right divorce financial settlement for you.
4. Focus on the big picture.
You can keep legal costs down by choosing your battles wisely. Know what is most important for you to move on with your life. It’s typically far better to save your time, money and energy for building your life after divorce.
If you find yourself becoming controlled by your imagination of what could happen in divorce, stop. Instead, spring into forward-moving action while trusting yourself. You are much stronger than you realize. And you will get through this.
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