10 Steps to Reducing the High Cost of Divorce

by Shaunna Privratsky
Steps to Reducing the High Cost of Divorce photo

Don’t let your pending divorce enrich the lawyers. Take these steps to keep divorce costs and divorce drama to a minimum.

While many marriages are successful, the unfortunate fact remains that some marriages end in divorce.

The leading cause is conflict over money, yet many couples pay a lot of money to part ways with their partner.

How much is a divorce going to cost you?

The simple answer is there is no set amount, but you can control costs in a variety of ways. Use these tools to reduce the cost of a divorce.

1. Check with your local county’s website for free information and forms to download.

In uncontested divorce, where both parties agree on the major issues, it can be a straightforward filing fee, usually $100 to $400, plus any attorney’s fees.

2. Contact Legal Aid.

They can assist you in finding free or sliding-scale lawyers.

3. Consider a flat-fee lawyer.

Look for lawyers that advertise flat-fee divorce services, but remember that cheap isn’t always the way to go. Check credentials and reputation at the legal directory Martindale-Hubbell and your local bar association website.

Decide if you both need lawyers or search for a joint attorney.

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4. Be mindful or your attorney’s time if they bill by the hour.

If your lawyer charges an hourly rate, keep costs low by cooperating fully, refraining from calling or emailing every question that comes up, and doing your own research if possible.

All attorneys should give you a written estimate on how much the divorce will cost.

5. Figure out child support and alimony.

Children are another huge factor in divorce. Who gets custody and who pays child support, if any?

This is where lawyers come in and possibly mediators, independent child custody evaluators, and court proceedings.

6. Agree with your spouse that things will be handled civilly.

This will speed up the proceedings and help keep costs down. However, if one partner is vindictive or angry, this drives up fees and delays filing.

7. Shut down your social media platforms.

Anything posted can be used against you in custody battles, alimony arguments, and child support.

8. Separate your bank accounts as soon as possible to facilitate the divorce.

Even if you are parting on good terms, you’ll have to separate finances at some point. Doing so sooner rather than later can help prevent any further money conflicts.

9. Pay off and cancel joint credit cards.

If this isn’t possible, transfer balances to an account under only one name. You can compare balance transfer cards here. More than one new single-name account may be needed.

If the debt was accumulated by both parties, decide what an equitable split of the debt would be before you transfer the balance.

10. Decide who will pay the legal costs.

If you qualify for low income status, ask the judge to order your spouse to pay the legal bills. This works when one person makes significantly more than the other.

Once your divorce is final, there are more financial adjustments to come. Suddenly you are living on one income. You may have to move to a different home.

When you were first starting out, it was kind of fun to use bricks and boards for your entertainment center and that thrift store couch was just fine. Eating out meant the discount menu at a fast food place and Ramen noodles were a staple. Now you have to adjust your budget and your expectations in your new circumstances.

There are almost as many reasons to get divorced as there are reasons to get married, and every couple’s story is unique. After finding out about the costs of a divorce you might choose to spend that money on marriage counseling.

But, if you do decide to go forward with the divorce, make it as painless as possible by looking for compromises. Trying to punish your soon-to-be ex-spouse can be very expensive. And it’s rare that only one party will bear the cost. Most often both of you will be a little poorer for the experience.

Reviewed March 2021

About the Author

Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for her free newsletters at The Discount Diva.

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