One of the biggest questions most people have when pursuing a divorce is: “How much will this cost?” There is no easy answer, as each case is different, but there are a few steps you can take to move the process along quickly and inexpensively.
Cost and Speed are Intertwined
Your divorce case will only go as fast as the slowest person – which means that if one of the parties is slowly adapting to the idea of divorcing, the speed of the case progress may go much slower than the other party would like. In another situation, if one side is not providing requested financial information it will take longer to fully gather all the information needed through formal processes (like subpoenas). Generally, the longer a divorce case goes on, the more it costs; it is usually more cost effective to get things wrapped up quickly so that you can move ahead.
If both partners are cooperative and willing to move the case forward, a divorce can be finalized in a matter of months (in rare cases a few weeks); an uncooperative or unmotivated partner can drag the case out for years. Since you were married to (and are now seeking to divorce) your spouse, you probably already know them well enough to know whether they will cooperate with a speedy divorce or insist on a longer process.
Under California law, it takes a minimum of six-months and one-day for “restoration of status,” or restoring you to the status of a single person. This means that even if a divorce is filed and resolved before the six-month and one-day period has passed, the final decree will include a date in the future – six-months and one-day from the date the divorce petition was served on the other spouse – as the date you are once again “single”. If you’re hoping to remarry soon, it’s always important to look at the effective date of your status on a divorce decree to ensure you are legally single again.
Cooperation Reduces Cost
If both spouses are on the same page regarding the division of assets, child custody, and child support, attorneys will essentially facilitate the filing of the paperwork – a cost-effective use of their time. But the more interaction between the spouses (and their attorneys), the more the costs tend to increase. Formal or informal mediation can be a great way to come to an agreement without having a full-blown trial in court; this often bypasses the discovery process (which can be expensive) and the process of litigating your divorce before a judge (which can be even more expensive).
One of the easiest ways to reduce the cost of your divorce is to be as truthful, forthcoming, and cooperative as possible in your interactions with your attorney and your soon-to-be ex. In some cases, your own cooperation can be enough to compel your spouse into cooperating as well. Going to court should be a last resort, as the cost of litigating a divorce may exceed the value of any assets you might gain by fighting it out (or outweigh the cost of a compromise).
But while you can’t control how cooperative your soon-to-be ex-spouse is, you can control your own demands of your attorney. Clients who expect frequent communication (or written memos or summary emails after every conversation) are likely to pay far more for their divorce than clients who only want status updates when something changes, or a hearing is scheduled. By being cooperative with your soon-to-be ex and maintaining an open (but non-demanding) line of communication with your attorney, you’ll have a good chance of making this process as inexpensive as possible.
At Mayer & Young, PC we are dedicated to helping our clients through the divorce process and to create a healthy and happy future. Please contact us today and find out how we can help you.