If you have been served with divorce papers or you have decided that the time has come to get a divorce, one of your primary concerns might revolve around how you will pay for the legal help you need. The good news is that legal help for a divorce or a custody case does not have to be expensive. Many people cannot afford a private lawyer to advise them and accompany them to court, but don’t worry: You don’t need a private attorney for family law matters in most cases. Here are some ways that you can make your divorce less expensive.
Establish an Agreement With Your Spouse on Your Own
You might not realize this, but very few divorce or custody cases actually go to trial. The figure is around five percent. Even if you are not feeling very amicable about your spouse and the feeling is mutual, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have an efficient divorce without legal help.
Start by sitting down together and discussing what you do agree on. For example, your spouse might want to continue living in the marital home, and you might agree that that’s the best way to go. Write that down as an item on your list that doesn’t need to be bantered over with the help of a lawyer or the courts. There will likely be quite a few things that the two of you can agree on. You might agree that the children will live in the marital home with one parent and that the other parent will have them two evenings per week plus every other weekend. Or you might agree to split your retirement accounts right down the middle.
The more that you can agree on without involving the law, the less expensive this will be. Don’t be discouraged if it seems like there are only a few comprises that both of you are willing to make; in time, you both might come around on different items.
Seek Mediation Before Considering Attorneys
A mediator is a neutral third party who can help you and your spouse come to agreements that you might be too upset to make on your own. If you are having a hard time communicating with your spouse because one of you tends to interrupt the other or because every discussion seems to turn into an argument, a mediator can help. He or she will make sure you both get a chance to talk about each item on your list of things that need to be agreed upon.
Your mediator can also help you decide what is fair because you’ll be able to present your side one at a time. If there’s a lot of contention, the mediator can act as a go-between, meeting with you and your spouse in separate rooms and bringing communication back and forth.
Even if you can’t agree on everything, mediation can cut down on your legal expenses and make the divorce proceed more quickly (and more smoothly).
Find a Legal Resource or Legal Advocacy Group
If mediation does not make it possible to settle your divorce without additional legal help, it’s time to go to the next step. For some, this will be a private attorney or a group of attorneys. Between the retainer and the hourly fees, however, this can be prohibitive.
One solution is to go to a legal resource group. This is a group of attorneys and other legal professionals who work together to help people going through family law cases. The cost is a fraction of what you would pay a private attorney, and you would have a case manager and a variety of legal help professionals who will walk you through what you need to do as you go through your divorce and custody case.
Some of the Services Provided by a Legal Help Group Include:
- Keeping track of and filing the paperwork and documentation that needs to be submitted to the court. There is usually a good deal of paperwork to contend with, and this can be overwhelming for someone going through a divorce while also working and raising children. Your legal help case manager will be able to help you compile everything you need for your case.
- Pointing you toward the legal help resources you need to make your case a success. Whether you need a parental evaluation, a private investigator, or a guardian ad litem, you can get a referral from the resource group. They can also help you make choices about what you want to ask for when it comes to your divorce by talking to you about the court process.
- Helping you prepare if you do need to go to court. You will be advised on what to wear and what to expect in terms of courtroom procedures. This will help your case by making you more prepared and ready to answer questions to the best of your ability. It will also help you avoid unintentionally making a poor impression on the judge, which could negatively affect your case.
- Storing your documents after the divorce is final. It’s likely that you won’t want to store all of your paperwork and documentation related to your divorce in your home once the divorce is done and over with. Your llegal help group can take care of this for you. That way, you’ll have access to your documents if you need them, and if you don’t, they will be out of your way.
Getting a divorce is never fun, but there are ways to make it less financially overwhelming. Rather than spend many thousands of dollars on a private attorney, try to do what you can on your own, then turn to a mediator and/or a legal help group for additional assistance. The time investment you make now will pay off once your divorce is final because you won’t have a large amount of legal debt to deal with. Get through your divorce and put it behind you by depending on National Family Solutions to help you learn to represent yourself and get the best settlement possible in your divorce or custody case.