Updated on May 8, 2023
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 18 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. Make Sure Divorce Is What You Want and Need
If your marriage is not on track and divorce seems like the only option, you owe it to yourself and to your family to take a step back and make sure this is really what you need and want.
There is no denying that some marriages are well and truly over, and if you have been served with divorce papers, the decision may be out of your hands. However, if you are driving the divorce, it is worth the effort to collect your thoughts and consider the following options:
Seeking professional marriage counseling
Turning to a trusted friend, clergy member, or loved one as a sounding board
Attempting to rekindle your commitment to your marriage
Having a heart-to-heart conversation with your spouse about how best to reframe your marital problems and address them head-on
While it may strike you as counterintuitive, consulting with a savvy divorce attorney can also help you bypass divorce and find a better way forward. To begin, a divorce attorney will help you better understand what divorce is likely to mean for you in relation to all the following arrangements:
Your child custody arrangements
Any spousal maintenance or alimony that may apply
While a divorce may be the best option for you, consulting with a divorce attorney does not close the door on other options.
2. 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.
3. Stay Organized
The divorce process involves a large amount of paperwork. You must collect various documents and file multiple 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.
4. 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.
5. Organize Your Own Raw Materials
Your financial documents will 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.
The fact is that, if you do not have all the financial information you need to make sound divorce decisions, it is far easier for your spouse to pull a fast one and cheat you out of your fair share of the assets.
Once you have made the difficult decision that a divorce is the right answer for you, it is time to address the matter of your family’s overall finances head-on by creating a comprehensive set of copies that represent every facet of your household’s income, assets, investments, and expenditures.
Having a paper trail paves the way for a smoother path forward and helps to ensure that information and documentation do not go missing as your divorce proceeds.
6. Set Realistic Divorce Priorities
It costs more to run two households than one, which means that divorce tends to leave both spouses worse well off financially. Of course, this does not mean that you will not come back stronger than ever over time, but it generally does mean that you will need to make some concessions early on.
Your knowledgeable divorce attorney will help you set realistic divorce priorities that support and balance your parental and financial rights. When these priorities are clear, it can afford you the clarity and insight necessary to engage in effective negotiations.
When every determination that needs to be made is afforded the same weight, it leaves you with no leverage and reduces your decision-making power in the divorce dynamic. Conversely, when you know where you can make concessions and where you must be firm, you are in a good position to engage in smooth negotiations that proceed apace and protect your rights.
7. 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. However, disagreements and conflicts can drive up the cost of your divorce because they require more court hearings and legal actions to be resolved. 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 to 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 and 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.
Even when your divorce doesn’t go as smoothly as you would hope, anything you can do to help keep the peace – that does not interfere with your rights – is a good thing. Consider all the following actions you can take to maintain peaceful negotiations:
If communicating with your spouse face-to-face turns into a scene every time you attempt it, make it your policy to take care of business over the phone, via text, or through email.
If negotiations between you and your spouse stall due to a breakdown in communication, allow your respective divorce attorneys to negotiate on your behalf.
Although it can be exceptionally difficult to accomplish, refrain from pushing your spouse’s buttons as the divorce proceeds. This will likely benefit you and your children in the long run, and this includes benefitting you financially.
Have a divorce strategy that prioritizes your primary concerns, so you can stay the course and resolve your divorce as effectively and efficiently as possible.
It is 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 working closely with your experienced Fort Hood divorce lawyer. If you are unsure how to deal with a difficult divorcing spouse, contact a lawyer for advice on how to move forward.
8. 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 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.
9. 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.
10. 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 you may feel to the item in question likely has more to do with divorce emotions than 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.
11. Watch Your Finances
It is far too easy to lose sight of your household’s finances as your divorce proceeds, and this can prove to be a considerable financial detriment.
Your Household Bills
To begin, the emotional roller coaster that is divorce has a way of demanding all your attention, which can make it difficult to keep up with your everyday responsibilities. When you add the financial burden and stress associated with divorce, losing sight of household expenses and bills is not unusual.
For example, if your spouse historically took care of the household bills but is no longer living in your family home and is no longer paying them, it can leave you in a precarious position. Further, missing a bill or two can snowball and lead to considerable fines and penalties – and even to stopped services.
While it is important to allow yourself the space you need to grieve the loss of your marriage and focus on your emotional health and well-being, it is also critical that you keep up with the mechanics of your home and life. Finding balance early on can help you save money over time.
Your Spouse’s Spending
One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is that it is almost impossible to predict how your spouse will react. Many people are surprised by the depths their spouses sink to. As your divorce proceeds, it is important to keep track of your household’s overall spending, including any credit card expenses your spouse might be racking up.
There are far too many ways to spend down marital assets, and if your spouse engages in any one of them, it can prove financially detrimental to you. Consider the following methods often used to tamper with marital assets:
Making lavish purchases
Giving things away
Moving money around in an effort to confuse the financial records
Taking out credit cards or other lines of credit unbeknownst to you
When it comes to protecting your assets and saving money in a divorce, being proactive is paramount.
12. 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.
13. 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.
Your trusted divorce attorney can help in all the following ways:
Your attorney will help to ensure that your case moves forward as effectively and efficiently as possible. The longer your case takes, the more costly it is likely to be, but your attorney has the legal insight and know-how to keep things moving in the right direction.
Your attorney will help you identify your divorce priorities, which can help you streamline your legal efforts.
Your attorney will help you skillfully negotiate divorce terms that protect your parental and financial rights.
Your attorney will help you explore your best negotiation options, which may include a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation.
Your attorney will know when it is time to cut your losses and head to court, which is often the best option when the other party is digging in their heels and refusing to engage in good-faith negotiations.
Your attorney will ensure that you are well prepared for trial if it becomes necessary.
It is important to find an experienced Fort Hood divorce attorney who is also a good fit for you. This fit 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 to be overcharged or to find out about hidden legal fees after your divorce is finalized.
14. 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.
15. Prepare for Meetings with Your Attorney
In order to save money on attorney’s fees, it is important to organize your thoughts before speaking with your attorney, because many lawyers charge by the hour. You are going through a divorce, and you naturally have a lot of questions. Taking time to prepare a list of questions for your attorney can help you cut to the chase and ensure that they are all addressed.
Instead of contacting your attorney in a scattershot fashion or calling just to vent, get organized, have a plan for your meeting or phone call, and write down your important legal questions and concerns.
As your divorce proceeds, you will have in-person and over-the-phone meetings with your attorney, and at each of these, you will have goals that need to be accomplished. As such, preparation is key. If your attorney asks for you to bring information or documentation, take time to compile and organize it ahead of time. This preparation can ultimately save time and effort.
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 streamline your efforts, you can save both time and money.
16. 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. These legal experts bill at a lower rate than your attorney, which will help you save money.
17. Resolve as Much as You Can between Yourselves
Every divorce comes down to resolving the divorce terms that apply to the situation at hand, including all of the following terms that apply:
Your legal custody (primary decision-making authority) and physical custody (parenting time schedule)
The more of these terms that you are able to resolve between you and your divorcing spouse, the fewer you will need to address under the direct guidance of your respective attorneys, at mediation, or in court.
While you should not commit to divorce terms without reviewing them with a seasoned divorce attorney who is up to speed with your case, hammering out terms between yourselves that you can both live with puts you well ahead of the game. The fewer terms that need focused legal attention, the less time and expense that will be involved.
18. 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. If that fails, there are many more opportunities to resolve the matter before heading to court. Consider the following methods 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 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. In this case, 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.