There is no getting around it. Getting a divorce will cost you money.
How much really depends on the situation. Uncontested divorces can cost as little as a couple thousand dollars while contested divorces that end up in court can rack up tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
While some of this may be out of your control there are some ways things you can do to keep your legal costs low. Here are five ways to help make sure that spending during your divorce doesn’t spiral out of control.
Once you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce educate yourself as much as possible about the divorce process and your rights. The more you know going into your initial meeting with a lawyer the less time you will be paying them to educate you or get you out of messes you unknowingly created.
Make sure that you are getting your information from a reputable source that is Canada-specific. Law blogs from the United States may outline different information about divorce that doesn’t apply to divorce law in Canada. Here is an Ontario government website on divorce and separation which is a good jumping off point for your research.
The most important tip for saving money during a divorce is to stay out of court. Litigation can be a very messy, drawn out and expensive process so the more things you and your spouse can agree on outside of court the better.
The best situation in terms of cost savings is to agree on things amicably as a pair. If this is not possible mediation is and option as well as collaborative practice. As a rule litigation should always be a last resort.
Consider collaborative divorce
Collaborative divorce is a process that promotes negotiation and settling conflict outside of court. Each spouse retains their own lawyer but both assist in coming to a resolution that is beneficial for all parties. This is a great way to have help hammering out the details of a divorce without the threat of a court battle since all parties are focused on avoiding litigation.
To learn more about the various divorce processes available including collaborative divorce check out this blog post.
Don’t sign a blank cheque
Some lawyers may ask your to sign an agreement for hourly billing. This can be like signing a blank cheque. The best case scenario is to get your lawyer to give you a fixed fee for them to handle your divorce.
If they can’t give you that then make sure you get frequent updates about costs you have incurred. Don’t be surprised if you are charged for things like phone calls, emails and photo copying. These are often included in legal fees and are sometimes a surprise to clients.
Most lawyers should be able to tell you roughly how much your divorce will cost based on your situation. There may be other things that pop up but they should be upfront with you about this so you don’t get a big bill you weren’t expecting.
One of the simplest, but also the most difficult ways to keep costs low during a divorce is to keep your cool. If you are able to have a level head during the divorce process, negotiations go more smoothly and it will take less time. As a general rule the shorter the divorce process the less expensive it will be.
Keeping calm will also cost you and your family less emotionally. Divorce is difficult and reaching a place that is calm and settled out of court will be beneficial for everyone involved.