Q: Is there anything clients can do to lower the cost of divorce?
If you're considering getting divorced in Oakland, Michigan, you will likely seek out a divorce attorney that exclusively practices in family law and is compassionate and accessible.
But it's also important to find an attorney that is affordable and transparent about the general estimated cost of your divorce.
There are several ways you can help to keep the costs of your divorce down, beginning with mediation. If you and your partner are generally agreeable and compromising, working out an agreement with the help of an impartial third-party mediator—while your divorce attorney provides legal guidance and prepares and files the documents—is a great way to keep the cost down.
How to Save Money on Your Divorce
Divorce cases are billed on an hourly basis, so anything you can do that reduces the amount of attorney time required will lower the bottom line. Organization and a spirit of cooperation, when possible, can also help lower divorce costs.
Consider these time-saving and cost-saving tips:
- Organize and electronically deliver financial and other important records so your attorney doesn't have to waste time doing it himself or repeatedly requesting those records. (Examples include tax returns, recent pay stubs, bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage and car loan paperwork, retirement, pension and investment account statements and deeds to real estate).
- Communicate by email rather than phone when appropriate and take notes during phone calls to refer back to.
- Divide household items and whatever other marital property you can agree upon on your own.
- Save on appraisal fees by using free appraisal resources for real estate and cars when possible.
- Consider avoiding dividing a pension or retirement account, if possible.
For couples that have pension or retirement accounts, dividing them up can be complex and time-consuming. Michigan, like the majority of states, is an equitable distribution state, which means a couple's joint marital property will be divided equitably or fairly, but not necessarily 50/50. The part of your pension earned during the marriage is considered marital property subject to division rather than the separate property of the employee-spouse.
If the non-employee spouse makes a claim to the pension, and the pension fund must be invaded to provide the non-employee spouse with a portion, it's done using a court order called a “qualified domestic relations order” or “QDRO”.
Depending on each couple's particular situation and their agreeability, it may be possible to give the non-employee spouse other joint marital assets (such as the home or other accounts of similar value as the pension share) and allowing the employee-spouse to retain the full undivided pension.
Contact Our Michigan Divorce Attorney Today
If you are considering getting divorced, or have been served with divorce papers, or have any questions regarding a family law matter, Cameron C. Goulding Family Law and Mediation, P.L.C. can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
From our office in Rochester, we represent clients throughout Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, Livingston, Lapeer and Wayne Counties in all aspects of family law.