Maybe you’re in an amicable divorce and the two of you have agreed to preserve your family’s finances by hiring a mediator. Lucky you.
But if you’re like most people going through a divorce, it’s contentious. You can’t agree on anything. There’s no way you can use mediation. You’re simply not candidates. That means you are hiring a divorce lawyer.
And they are expensive. First off, you have to write a huge retainer check for anywhere from $2500 to $15,000. And once that check leaves your sweaty palm, the clock starts ticking. Any and every communication you have with your attorney chips away at that amount. Every time anyone on his staff works on your case, it costs. You will be astonished at how quickly they go through that retainer.
But there are some things you can do to slow the hemorrhaging. Here are my top 5 secrets for making that retainer last longer.
1. Get your financials in order BEFORE you meet with your lawyer.
That means gathering all of your bills and statements beforehand so that you arrive with a clear financial snapshot to work with. If you let his staff hold your hand through the process, it could cost thousands.
2. Create a timeline. Here’s how: make a list of every major life event of your marriage starting with when you met. Then plot each of those events on a timeline. Bring this to your first meeting with your lawyer. This will help him or her tremendously when navigating the course of the marriage. The fewer questions he/she has to ask you, the lower your bill.
3. Do not call your lawyer every time you have a question. Get a journal, and every time you think of something you want to talk about, write it down. Then wait. After a day or two, you might figure it out yourself, or it may no longer be an issue. When you have a substantial list of valid topics to discuss, schedule a call. That way, you can run through your list more efficiently instead of paying for multiple phone calls.
4. Write an unemotional synopsis of the demise of your marriage. I know, this one’s hard. You have to write it as if you were writing a police report. Take yourself out of it as much as possible. Include only facts — no feelings. This is the most efficient method of conveying the backstory to your attorney in the shortest amount of time.
5. Hire a divorce coach. A divorce coach can be invaluable in helping you complete all 4 of the steps above, plus a good one can help you make the mental mindset shifts necessary to win your divorce financially, emotionally, physically and psychologically. And what a divorce coach costs you is significantly less than the amount it will save you. Win-win.
If you complete all of these steps, I guarantee you will save a ton of money on your divorce. And, of course, you can always reach out to me for help.