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Ways to save money on divorce costs

by Maren Swanson

This may be obvious, but what lawyers have to sell is their time.  As an experienced divorce attorney (and formerly divorced person), I have some tips to pass along.  You should end up with a fair result in your divorce case, but how much you pay for it will depend on the amount of time it takes to get there.

So, how can you save time and money and get the best possible result in your divorce?

  • Don’t get hung up on your spouse’s misconduct. You may think the cause of your divorce is important to your case. Usually, it is not. Minnesota has “no-fault” divorce. All you have to “prove” to get divorced is that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage – and if one spouse says there has been, there has been. Marital misconduct is not supposed to affect financial issues like division of property and spousal maintenance. The only time misconduct affects custody or parenting time is if it truly hurts the children – like if a parent is neglecting the children or if a new boyfriend or girlfriend is an abuser. Sometimes people try to use evidence of marital misconduct to influence the judge; generally that is a waste of time and money.
  • Choose your lawyer carefully. It is amazing how often clients find lawyers who match them. Reasonable clients find reasonable lawyers. Clients who want to punish their spouses by attacking them and prolonging the legal proceedings find lawyers who are willing to do that and are happy to take the fees generated by divorce warfare. No one wins by turning divorce into a war. Best advice is that you be reasonable and look for a reasonable lawyer. When interviewing lawyers, ask how they would characterize their approach to divorce cases. Listen for words like reasonableness, compromise, best interests, minimizing conflict. Ask for references from other clients.
  • Don’t talk too much. Your lawyer is interested in you as a person, and everyone has a story to tell. But every minute (or hour) you spend telling your story, whether to your lawyer or her assistant, will probably be billed to you at regular hourly rates. So save the long version for friends, family and counselors and stick to the essentials with your lawyer.

More tips will be posted later this week.

I look forward to meeting anyone who needs high quality representation in a divorce. I offer a free consultation up to a half-hour; contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation and your needs.

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