How to get a divorce without losing your life’s savings

Divorce cases can be complicated and messy. If yours is a contested case, it can present a challenge to even the finest family law attorneys . Such complications bring with them higher costs and fees. There are ways to cut costs, however. Here are some tips to save on your attorneys' fees:

Try to reach a settlement early in the process. If you can put your feelings aside and work with your spouse, you will save a lot of money and a lot of grief. The earlier in the process you arrive at a settlement, the more money you both will save. It's in everyone's best interest to settle instead of going to trial.

Limit your discussions with your attorney. It's all about the billable hours. In general, most clients do not need to contact their attorney more often than once weekly, unless an emergency arises. You don't need to call your attorney every day, as some clients do. Email your attorney once a week to update him or her. You attorney can get information more quickly from an email than from a phone call. It also takes less time to respond. When you speak to your attorney on the phone or in person, make a list of points to go over. Be brief. If you need to expand on a point, do so in an email. If a paralegal can answer your question, call him or her instead of your attorney, since a paralegals' hourly rate is lower than that of an attorney.

Gather up needed documents yourself. You will have to exchange a mandatory disclosure with your spouse, as well as other documents. You may also need to research some of the facts in the case. The more you can do, the less your attorney's office will have to do, which will cut down considerably on costs. Don't procrastinate, though. Courts require documentation according to a strict time schedule. If you miss a deadline, your spouse's attorney can file what is called a "motion to compel." Your attorney, then, will have to defend you in court.—which means added costs. You may even have to pay your spouse's attorney's fees for filing the motion.

Heed your attorney's advice. Many times, well-meaning family members and friends give you advice about your divorce case. Don't take it. If you have a question, consult with your attorney. You chose a family law attorney for a reason. Your attorney has the knowledge, the education and the experience to guide you safely through the murky waters of divorce law. Don't waste time and money by going against your attorney's advice. You want to make a good impression on the Court by complying with your state's divorce laws, which your attorney knows well.

Don't make your goal getting all you can out of your spouse. The Court can see right through spouses who, out of revenge, want to see their spouse's life savings dwindle down to nothing. If you use delay tactics or vexatious litigation, you may even have to pay your spouse's costs and attorney's fees. You, too, will lose plenty of money in attorneys' fees yourself when you drag your heels during the process.

If the Court issues an order, comply. Court Orders are serious matters. If you don't comply with them, the Court may hold you in contempt. You may even face jail time or fines, in addition to the extra fees such non-compliance will incur.

Study the pleadings and the correspondence about your case. To be truly proactive, read up on all of the documents you receive about your case. If you don't understand something, make a list of your questions and contact your attorney or a paralegal to discuss the matter.

Be clear with your attorney about your goals. Your attorney is not a mind reader. Make sure that you have defined what you want out of the divorce proceedings. Focus on what is best for your children, your spouse, and yourself. Make sure that your goals are reasonable and fair when it comes to division of assets as well.

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