How to Keep Your Divorce Affordable: 8 Tips

Expensive Divorces

January is divorce month for divorce lawyers!!!  With attorneys’ rates being 250 – 1000/hour, how can anyone afford divorces these days?

Without further ado, my tips for keeping your divorce affordable.

  1.  Hire an experienced mediator.  If you can agree on one thing, should be how your divorce is handled.  Research mediators and find an experienced one who both of you trust.  Sit down with this mediator and hash out your issues.
  2. If you or your spouse cannot agree to mediation, no problem.  Hire an experienced attorney.  Again, do your research.  Hire a lawyer who is settlement minded.  Unfortunately, there are bad people out there.  Some are outright unethical.  Others may fail to advise you of your divorce options.  There’s mediation and collaborative law.  Find an attorney who is willing to explore different ways to handle your case.  Just because your spouse isn’t agreeing with you on one issue doesn’t mean your divorce needs to go to Court.
  3. Hire a therapist.  You may have many disagreements and emotional battles with yourself, or your spouse.  Although these may seem like issues you bring up to your attorney, sometimes they are more appropriately (and affordably) treated if directed to a therapist.
  4. Stop fighting for “what’s fair”.  Your spouse has a different idea of “what is fair”.  Your neighbor and friend who went through a divorce is in a much different situation that you.  She may be getting $50,000 a month in spousal support with no children.  You may have several dogs and stay in the house.
  5. Stop thinking the law will protect you in a divorce.  The biggest misconception of clients is that their rights will be vindicated in Court.  They are wrong on so many levels.  The legal system is already flawed, but when applied to fragile, very personal situations such as family law, it fails at best.  No one can possibly make decisions as to your family and your children’s future better than YOU and YOUR SPOUSE, especially if you have children.  I urge each of you to educate yourself before hiring a divorce lawyer.  There are millions of informative articles out there.  Some firms, like ours, offer free monthly seminars, where you can go and educate yourself. There is absolutely no replacement for knowledge.  Here is some advice to divorcing parents from a very shrewd Family Law Judge – it’s only 200 words
  6. Stop depending on your lawyer and the Judge to “make things right”.   My favorite clients are those that wish to be informed every step of the way.  These clients learn from me.  They listen.  And their divorces often go faster, and are much cheaper.  You see, the only commodity I have to sell is my time.  Those who don’t listen, don’t read my emails – don’t use the free resources such as this blog – they are not making full use of my role as a divorce attorney.  I am a guide, a teacher.  I am not a punching bag, or a therapist.
  7. Know when to “let it go”.  Don’t fight everything.  Your divorce lawyer should give you options.  Sometimes it’s better to let it go.
  8. Keep track of your finances and assets.  Disclosures.  Argh.  I hate that word.  In divorces without custody challenges, property division is the stage of divorce that is usually the most time-intensive. Every man and woman should keep track of all finances, and assets and debts accumulated.  We are now in 2016.  It is NO LONGER the “man’s” job to pay the bills.  Let’s all aspire to be the “in-spouse”.

If 2016 is the year for your divorce, so be it.  May the force be with you.

Kelly Chang Rickert

Kelly Chang Rickert (formerly Kelly Yi-Yi Chang) is the founder of the Law Offices of Kelly Chang, A Professional Law Corporation, a firm dedicated exclusively to Family Law. She has been certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Family Law Specialist. She is frequently quoted in the media, and is a legal expert for Style Network, TV Guide and MTV on Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods, Britney Spears, Christie Brinkley and Madonna divorce and custody cases.

  • Jeff Madison
    February 25, 2016 7:51 pm

    I appreciate your tip on finding an attorney who is settlement minded. It seems that a lawyer that is focused on resolving the tricky business of divorce would be important for saving you money. My ex and I are going through that process and it seems that saving money is really important.

  • Danni Black
    January 12, 2017 12:27 pm

    I really like your tip about making sure that you keep track of your finances and assets when it comes to divorce. My sister and her husband have been thinking about getting a divorce for a while now. I’ll have to pass these tips on to her so that she can have some help through the process, thank you for sharing!

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