Cheap can be costly. And, when it comes to divorce, cheap divorce lawyers can ultimately drain your accounts—financially and emotionally. The temptation to team up with touted cost-cutters is understandable. But learn the risks and costs before throwing your trust (and future) into the bargain basket.
Even in the most amicable situations, the divorce process can make you feel as if you’re hanging onto a cliff’s edge by your fingernails. There are so many details to consider, with so many time-sensitive must-do’s. And, there are so many things with future relevance for parting spouses and their children.
When you start adding it all up, it’s inevitable that you’ll ask: How much will my divorce cost me, financially and emotionally?
So why wouldn’t you strive to save wherever and whenever you can? After all, if you don’t send a lawyer’s kids to college, you might be able to send your own kids to college.
Enter that internet know-it-all, Google. A quick search for “cheap divorce lawyers” ought to get this show on the road and save you bundles, right?
(You might even be lucky enough to know someone whose next-door neighbor has a friend whose cousin is a lawyer… kind of.)
Don’t get us wrong. Frugality has its place, especially when employed with conscientious research and self-discipline.It goes “deeper than cheaper” and assumes an underlying prudence in decision-making.
Cheap, however, carries an implied reference not only to price, but to quality.
And cheap divorce lawyers are no exception.
Let’s consider some of the most important qualities of a good lawyer… and how they differ from the cheap ones.
Good lawyers are respected within their profession, even by competitors.
They are respected for their knowledge and skill… and especially for their integrity. They would never disrespect the law, let alone encourage you to lie or withhold required information.
Good lawyers are transparent with their clients.
They don’t bury costs, fees, and terms beneath undisclosed jargon and code. Because they act with integrity, they want their clients to know “what and why” when it comes to actions taken and the costs associated.
Good lawyers advocate for you.
They give you the assurance, by their actions, that you are in good hands. They will go to bat for you and not cut corners when your future is at stake. Most importantly, they will also listen to you.
Good lawyers care about you and the outcome of your case.
They are vested in your case. They want you to succeed, not just as a source of their paycheck, but for your future well-being.
Good lawyers know how to handle complicated cases.
They have a thorough understanding of the law and years of experience applying it. They know how to resource information that can resolve even the most intricate matters. In other words, they know how to get things done.
Cheap divorce lawyers, on the other hand, are cheap in part because they can handle only simple cases.
Good lawyers are accessible.
They respond to your phone calls and outreach in a clear and timely way. They also keep you abreast of any updates in your case.
Cheap lawyers take on a lot of clients to make as much money as possible. This means they don’t return your calls, they don’t remember your story when you are talking with them, and they’re not prepared when they speak with you… or the judge. And before getting to court, they often don’t educate you on what your choices really are, because they want to be finished with you as soon as possible. Next!
Good lawyers keep you on track and on time.
Divorce, in a very pragmatic sense, is a process of checking off a long list of requirements.
It’s also a process of meeting deadlines and staying on time.
A good lawyer will keep your case on time and you informed of all that is required of you.
Cheap divorce lawyers, on the other hand, aren’t always motivated to look after your timeline.
And what does that mean for you? You guessed it. Fees, penalties, and more money out of your pocket.
It also won’t make you fare well in the eyes of the court if you aren’t organized and punctual.
So where does this leave you when money is an issue, but quality is critical?
You actually have a number of options, most of which will depend on the ability of you and your soon-to-be-Ex to cooperate.
We always encourage our readers and clients to handle as much of their divorce as possible without litigation.
This means understanding, first and foremost, the difference between an uncontested and contested divorce. Every bit of contention in your divorce will come with a price tag and a protracted timeline.
If you and your soon-to-be-Ex are agreeable and amicable in your communication, you may be good candidates for mediation. But before choosing mediation or which method you’ll use to divorce, we strongly urge you to have a private, educational consultation with a reputable divorce attorney. We want you educated on what your rights are and what you are entitled to as a woman BEFORE you go to the mediation table and start making decisions dividing things up.
For this initial consult, here are the best questions to ask a divorce attorney to get you started.
After that meeting you can think about your husband’s personality and what model of divorce might be right for both of you (DIY, mediation, collaborative divorce, traditional approach, or litigation.)
Or get fully educated first.
Consider joining us for Annie’s Group, where it’s safe to learn what is possible for your life, legally, emotionally, financially, and practically, before you jump or make any big decisions.
Why is mediation often a good model after you’ve been educated privately as a woman?
Because it’s an “interest-based” approach to divorce as opposed to a retribution-based approach.
You are both coming to the table with your current and future needs and interests. And, if you have children, you are looking out for their well-being, both now and in the future.
Mediation is a favorable way to keep your divorce out of the courts. And the best part is that, instead of a judge deciding your settlement, you (and your STB ex) do.
But what if we agree on some things but not others? You may wonder. Believe it or not, you can actually use mediation for parts of your divorce and legal representation for the rest.
Even if you choose to use mediation for the entire process, you can still retain legal counsel for guidance before and review during. (And here is another distinction between good and cheap divorce lawyers: An attorney worth your consideration will not be threatened by your choice to use or incorporate mediation.)
Another non-litigated approach is a collaborative divorce. Both mediation and collaboration have their pros and cons especially as relates to women advocating for themselves. So do your research and be honest about what is likely to be most workable for both of you and your circumstances.
You also have the choice to do a DIY divorce, utilizing resources online. If you choose to consider that approach, know that DIY is really best for short-term marriages, or marriages where there are not any children, little or no debt, and few if any assets.
What’s the big message here?
Your divorce, as awkward as this sounds, is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment in your children’s futures.
What you choose, how you choose, and why you choose what you do carries a lot of weight.
As difficult as it may be to lead with a business mind and not emotions, doing so is critical to your success.
Divorce cuts deeply into your life, emotions, and self-esteem, even when it’s not an “ugly divorce.” It unearths inevitable questions, doubts, regrets, and fears.
The way in which you navigate your divorce will be a statement of value that you make about yourself and your life. It will also forge a lasting memory and influence for your kids.
And no value statement is louder or clearer than the people you draw into your circle.
Money-conscious? Smart woman.
SAS women are those amazing ladies you meet who are entirely committed to rebuilding their lives on their own, healthiest terms. If you are recreating after divorce or separation, you are invited to experience SAS for Women firsthand. Schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation. Whether or not you work further with us, we’ll help you understand your next, black-and-white steps for walking into your brave unknown — with compassion, integrity, and excitement.