Use dispute resolution-mediation programs wherever possible. Divorce is an emotional time, and spite often plays a part in negotiations. However, time spent on negotiations is money spent, and coming to agreements on issues is cheaper than fighting over them. Arguing over emotional issues, such as child visitation and custody, can also cause more trauma to your children; and that helps no one.
Make at least three copies of all documents requested: one set for your attorney, one set for opposing counsel, and one set for yourself. Send your attorney and opposing counsel attorney’s copies to your attorney. Let your attorney go through them and send what is relevant to opposing counsel. Further, put all the documents in the order requested. Although copying will cost you time and money, it will be far cheaper than having your attorney’s staff make the copies and/or put them in the order requested.
Understand the divorce process itself. Educate yourself regarding the process by checking out books at your library, obtaining pamphlets from your local bar association or court system. Familiarize yourself with common terms used in the process, such as “no-fault divorce”, “age of majority”, and so on.
Get a good lawyer, one with experience in family law and divorce. The hourly fee may be higher, but will be more cost effective if he/she saves you time in completing your divorce and/or gets you a better settlement. Keep in mind that a good divorce attorney is aware of the issues presented in divorce, such as child issues, spousal support, financial issues, retirement pensions, and property issues, and will know how to tailor your needs.
Don’t fight over small personal property items such as kitchenware and knickknacks. It is cheaper to replace your favorite CDs and DVDs and make copies of beloved photos than spend the hourly rates for attorneys to divide them.
Keep the lines of communication open with your attorney. Don’t hold back on pertinent information. It makes the attorney work harder costing you more money. Conversely, don’t use your attorney as your emotional therapist. If you need help adjusting emotionally, hire someone specifically trained for this purpose.
Wherever possible, get rid of joint accounts. Close all joint credit card accounts and/or accounts where your soon-to-be-ex’s name is listed as a user. Open separate accounts in your own name. Also, closely monitor your remaining joint accounts to ensure payments are being made and assets are properly maintained.
Use e-mail communications whenever possible. You will still be charged for the communication, but communicating is not limited to office hours or mail delivery time.
Remember, a good family law specialist will help you through this difficult time, but the more you understand how the system works, the more you can help yourself, and thus help your case.