What can you do to keep costs down in a Colorado divorce? Some divorce proceedings are naturally and appropriately more expensive than others, but there are things you can do to work with your lawyer, and your former spouse, to keep the attorney fees under control.
This blog post will provide tips for minimizing conflict and simplifying the divorce process with the goal to keep costs down in a Colorado divorce. It will discuss the use of mediation and other alternative dispute resolution options to avoid trial, and will talk about how using a lawyer in your Colorado divorce now can keep it from costing more in the future.
Conflict Costs Money
The higher the conflict between you and your former spouse, the more you can expect your divorce to cost. When partners split amicably, often it is the spouses themselves who do most of the work of dividing assets, negotiating parenting time schedules, and other details of the divorce. In high-conflict cases, everything needs to go through the lawyer. And lawyer time equals money.
To keep costs down in your divorce, try to keep the conflict low. Obviously, there is a reason why your marriage is ending. But if you can find a way to work with your spouse in ending the relationship, you can often reduce the time your lawyer needs to put into your case, and pay less to reach the same result. Some strategies to remove conflict include:
- Communicating entirely through writing or email (rather than calls or meetings)
- Working with a personal therapist or coach to handle the emotional aspects of divorce
- Focusing on one issue at a time rather than dealing with everything at once
- Thinking of your spouse as a business partner
- Prioritizing your needs and wants
Keep Costs Down by Doing Background Work Yourself
DIY divorce is a popular trend in Colorado, and across the country. The results of people trying to handle their own divorces are mixed. Without a lawyer involved people can often miss important steps or fail to consider issues that come back to hurt them later on. But just because you hire a lawyer to write the documents and appear beside you in court doesn’t mean you can’t do some of the work yourself.
Remember that your lawyer doesn’t know you, your life, or your financial circumstances. All he or she has to go on is what you provide, or what they can obtain through the legal discovery process. And discovery costs money. Requests for production of documents and interrogatories take attorney time to prepare, get responses, and review the produced information. Subpoenas to third parties (like banks, mortgage companies, or utility providers) often have document production fees or witness fees attached.
If you want to keep costs down in your divorce action, talk to your lawyer about doing the legwork yourself. Ask your lawyer for a list of documents and evidence that you need for your case. Then get to work:
- Pulling the most recent statement for all your financial accounts
- Inventorying high-value personal property (like cars, boats, firearms, and collectibles)
- Requesting health insurance and pension benefit statements from your providers
- Gathering credit card balances
- Putting together a budget of the household’s monthly expenses and who paid what prior to separation
- Gathering emails, instant messages, and other documents that support your story of why a divorce is needed (such as proof of adultery or abuse)
Use Mediation or Arbitration to Avoid the Cost of Trial
Most Colorado divorce cases do not go to trial. In many cases, the parties and their attorneys are able to work out an arrangement themselves with the help of a neutral third party or mediator. Sometimes, the court will order you and your spouse to attend mediation before your contested hearing to see if you can work things out.
The good news is that mediation, arbitration, and other alternative dispute resolution techniques can save you time and money and help you keep costs down in a Colorado divorce. Mediation often happens faster, and does not require the same degree of preparation as going to trial. While your divorce lawyer will likely prepare a mediation statement, you won’t have to pay for the extensive litigation preparation, witness fees, and other costs that come with taking a divorce case to trial.
Mediation works best if you come at it with the right mindset. We recommend that our clients look forward, thinking about what they will need after the divorce is final, rather than backward to what caused the divorce in the first place. We work with our clients to come up with goals and priorities, so that they will know a good deal when they see it. By setting your sites on resolution, rather than retaliation, you can improve the chances that your case will settle at mediation and you won’t have to pay for a trial.
No one can guarantee how much your Colorado divorce will cost. What happens in your divorce isn’t entirely up to you, or your attorney. Your former spouse can make things easy or hard. Emotions, financial circumstances, issues, and schedules can all affect the bottom line. But there are things you can do to keep costs down. If you are worried about the expense of attorney fees, talk to your lawyer early about strategies to share the work and minimize conflict. It could save you a lot of money.
At Aviso Law, LLC, our divorce lawyers know you would rather not spend a lot of money on your divorce case. We are here to serve you and your family. We will help you identify your priorities, and create strategies to help you keep costs down. We will also assist with mediation and negotiations to help you resolve your divorce without the cost of trial. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.