Updated on August 24, 2022
Divorce is a financial challenge in the best of times. The truth is that both you and your divorcing spouse will experience financial setbacks with your divorce, and keeping your divorce costs as low as possible (while still receiving the professional legal guidance you need) is the universal goal.
Contrary to popular belief, however, divorce does not necessarily have to be a costly process. You may worry that you won’t be able to afford a divorce, but reading these 14 tips on how to reduce the cost of your divorce in Texas may give you the solutions you need to get started with your Texas divorce.
If you want to get a divorce in Texas but don’t want to break the bank, consult with a Fort Hood divorce lawyer to find out how you can save money when filing for divorce.
1. Research Texas Divorce Laws
You should learn more about Texas divorce laws in order to reduce the cost of your divorce. As a rule of thumb, the more you know about the legal process, the less you will need to pay your attorney to explain the law to you. As you learn more about Texas divorce laws, you will understand your rights and know what you can do to achieve a favorable outcome.
However, do not expect to become a legal expert overnight. You still need an experienced Fort Hood attorney to help you navigate the divorce process and stay organized throughout your case. Contact a lawyer for the legal knowledge and guidance you need to move efficiently through your divorce process.
2. Stay Organized
The divorce process involves a large amount of paperwork. You must collect a number of documents and file various forms, motions, and petitions during a divorce case. It is essential to be organized when handling all those documents and papers in order to save you time, which will keep your divorce costs down.
3. Formulate a Game Plan
In the end, every divorce—no matter how hotly contested or mild-mannered, and no matter how high the assets or how straightforward the financials—comes down to agreeing to the same basic terms:
The division of your marital property, which is often the most difficult divorce term to resolve
Your child custody arrangements if you have children
Child support, as applicable to your situation
Alimony, which is called spousal maintenance in Texas
Within this framework, it is important to have a plan. If you and your divorcing spouse see eye to eye on any of these terms, you will not need to address them while paying for legal guidance. Further, once you come to grips with your divorce priorities, it becomes easier to let go of the details and concerns that are less important to you, which can shave off considerable expense.
While there is much to gain from carefully negotiating aspects of your divorce that you are perfectly willing to compromise on, it is important to ensure that your strategies and priorities protect your financial and parental rights. Review your divorce terms carefully with your dedicated Fort Hood divorce attorney to ensure that your future is well protected.
4. Organize Your Own Raw Materials
Your financial documents are going to play an important role in the division of marital property, child support, and alimony. The more effort you put into gathering and organizing these important elements of your divorce, the less time your legal team will need to pour into it, which can save you money and ensure that your financial rights are well represented and protected.
Below are examples of documents you should share with your lawyer:
Other loan information
Your and your spouse’s income statements
Your financial portfolio
Your household expenses, including utilities, groceries, clothing, and entertainment costs
Your insurance costs (“Can I Stay on My Ex-Spouse’s Health Insurance After Texas Divorce?”)
Your family’s out-of-pocket medical costs
Deeds to all property
Car titles and information related to any car loans
Credit card statements
Lines of credit
Your separate retirement accounts
Your tax statements for several years back
Information regarding additional assets, such as art, jewelry, watches, collections, recreational vehicles, or anything else of value
Your financial documents will be unique to you and your situation, but the more comprehensive and the better organized your records are, the better prepared your legal team will be to hit the ground running.
5. Be Willing to Negotiate and Compromise
Divorce is not a walk in the park, and no one expects you and your divorcing spouse to get along perfectly. Disagreements and conflicts can drive up the cost of your divorce because they require more court hearings and legal actions to be resolved. However, if you can keep your divorce civil, it is likely to cost you less.
The best thing you can do to save money during the divorce process is be willing to reach an agreement with your spouse through negotiations and compromise. Opt for mediation and collaborative divorce instead of litigation. Traditional divorce litigation is more expensive, stressful, and unpredictable than negotiating a settlement agreement out of court.
Adopting a collaborative approach to divorce includes the following resolutions:
Setting an intention to work together in good faith to hammer out mutually acceptable divorce terms
Setting your differences aside to the best of your ability and focusing on making compromises that allow you to meet in the middle
Working proactively with your respective divorce attorneys to find the middle ground you seek
The most efficient and effective way to approach your negotiations is in the spirit of compromise. However, this does not mean caving in to your divorcing spouse’s demands. Instead, it means setting your priorities and compromising accordingly, which can lead to considerable savings and to divorce terms that work for you.
It is, however, important to note that if your divorcing spouse wants to make your divorce as difficult as possible, there is very little you can do to stop him or her from doing so—other than by working closely with your experienced Fort Hood divorce lawyer. If you are unsure how to deal with a difficult divorcing spouse, contact a lawyer today for advice on how to move forward.
6. Try Mediation
As mentioned earlier, traditional divorce litigation can be quite costly. While going to court may be necessary to resolve some contested issues, you should consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation to finalize your divorce for as little as possible.
Mediation is not only cheaper and more confidential than traditional divorce litigation, but it also allows you to have more control over the outcome of your divorce.
7. Keep Your Emotions Under Control
Divorce is an emotional process, but allowing your emotions to guide your divorce terms is unwise. Allowing your emotions to intervene can lead to very costly negotiations that could ultimately drive you to court, which is generally the most expensive option.
Instead, your divorce negotiations should focus on the facts as they relate to the circumstances involved. You should learn to control your emotions and focus on what is really important to you. Do not fight over insignificant things. Try to minimize areas that trigger uncontrollable emotions or negative feelings.
If you are having difficulty controlling your emotions during divorce, enlist the help of an experienced divorce attorney. He or she will give impartial, unbiased legal counsel and help you find clarity as you work through your divorce terms.
8. Divvy Up Your Household Items between Yourselves
While the division of your marital property is critical to your financial future, this is far less true when it comes to the division of your household items. In fact, the adage that less is more comes to mind. While you will need the basics, if you are like most couples, you likely have enough for both of you to begin with.
It is never worth the legal cost of arguing over a pan, rice cooker, hair dryer, or anything else. If it becomes a heated battle, you can save yourself time, heartache, and expense by simply buying yourself a new one. Any attachment to the item in question you may feel likely has more to do with divorce emotions than with anything else, and reminding yourself of this fact can help.
However, if the item in question has considerable sentimental value, it is a different matter that you shouldn’t ignore.
9. Waive the Divorce Filing Fees
Depending on the county where you live, the divorce filing fee can range from $250 to $350. Not all people can afford to pay several hundreds of dollars to initiate the divorce proceedings, but you may qualify for a waiver of the filing fee by submitting an Affidavit of Indigency. By filing the Affidavit, you are asking the court to waive the filing fee.
You may qualify for a waiver if you are receiving public benefits and cannot afford court fees. Contact a lawyer to see if you qualify for an Affidavit of Indigency.
10. Choose Your Divorce Attorney Carefully
Even if you and your divorcing spouse are the poster couple for an amicable divorce, representing yourself is ill-advised and can prove expensive. Your divorce terms will directly affect your post-divorce finances, and there can be serious tax implications and other effects that are difficult to predict without the professional legal counsel of a divorce attorney.
It is important to find an experienced Fort Hood divorce attorney who is also a good fit for you, which can mean different things to different people, but the basics include the following characteristics:
An attorney with whom you are comfortable sharing personal information
An attorney whom you trust
An attorney who is available to you via phone, email, or in-person when you need him or her
An attorney who explains the legal process to you in a manner that you understand
An attorney who focuses on your divorce priorities
Hiring the wrong attorney and changing legal representation midway through your divorce can be an expensive mistake, and sticking with a divorce attorney who is not a good fit can be even worse. You should find the best divorce attorney in your county or city who specializes in the area of the law that fits your needs.
For example, if you and your spouse cannot agree on the division of property, you should look for a knowledgeable attorney with vast experience in property division matters.
Many law firms, including The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, offer a free consultation to prospective clients. Schedule a FREE consultation to ensure that you are hiring the right attorney for your specific case.
During a consultation, do not forget to ask a potential lawyer about their fees and costs of representation. The last thing you need is being overcharged or finding out about hidden legal fees after your divorce is finalized.
11. Avoid Paying for Appraisals
If possible, you should agree with your spouse on the values of the marital home, automobile, and other assets to avoid paying for appraisals. Appraisal fees can be quite substantial, which is why you and your spouse may want to try agreeing on a value to reduce the cost of your divorce.
12. Prepare a List of Questions for Your Attorney
It is important to organize your thoughts before speaking with your attorney to save money on attorney’s fees because many lawyers charge by the hour. You are going through a divorce, and you naturally have a lot of questions. Taking the time to prepare a list of questions for your attorney can help you cut to the chase and ensure that they are all addressed up front
Instead of contacting your attorney in a scattershot fashion or calling just to vent, get organized, have a plan regarding your meeting or phone call, and write down your important legal questions and concerns.
Additionally, emailing your attorney your game plan for your next meeting or call provides him or her with a heads up about what is to come as well as a better understanding of what your primary divorce concerns are, which means that he or she can be better prepared to tackle the issues at hand.
You and your divorce attorney are a team, and when you help streamline your efforts, you can help yourself save both time and money.
13. Speak with Your Attorney’s Associates and Paralegals Whenever Possible
You can lower your attorney’s fees by keeping your telephone conversations and meetings with your lawyer to a minimum. Another way to reduce your legal fees is to speak with your attorney’s associates, assistants, and paralegals unless you need legal advice.
Whenever possible, contact your divorce attorney’s paralegals and legal assistants to ask questions instead of speaking directly with your attorney because they bill at a lower rate.
14. Avoid Divorce Litigation
Taking your divorce case to trial can send the cost of your divorce through the roof in an instant. That is why you should avoid litigation at all costs. You should hire a skilled Fort Hood divorce attorney to help you reach an out-of-court agreement through negotiations and other alternative dispute resolution methods.
The least costly path forward involves settling each term with as little outside assistance as possible. Consider the following method for resolving divorce terms outside of court:
If there are any terms on which you and your soon-to-be-ex share similar views, you should attempt to hash them out between yourselves.
All remaining terms should be negotiated with the professional assistance of your divorce attorney.
If you hit a wall on a specific term—or terms—your respective divorce attorneys can negotiate on your behalf.
For any terms that remain, you can turn to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation, where a professional mediator will attempt to help you and your divorcing spouse explore your options and find middle ground.
By following this model, you can shed those terms you are able to settle along the way and can apply the guidance of professional legal counsel only as you need it.
One caveat that is important to mention is that if your divorcing spouse is determined to make your divorce as contentious as possible, there is likely very little you can do to stop him or her, and moving your divorce directly toward court may be your best and least expensive option.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Fort Hood Divorce Lawyer
Your concerns regarding the cost of divorce are understandable. Speak with a Fort Hood divorce lawyer to find out how you can lower the cost of your divorce in Texas. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to advise you on how to make your divorce less expensive.
At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, we are committed to providing our clients with effective strategies to help them achieve a favorable outcome at a lower cost. Call us at (254) 781-4222 or contact us online to talk about your particular situation during a FREE consultation.