Going through divorce in Florida can be a very expensive proposition. No matter which path you choose for your divorce, you are going to be spending money. However, there are things you can do to reduce your costs.
1. Agree to the Collaborative Family Law Process
The first thing you and your spouse can do is retain collaboratively-trained attorneys and agree to use the collaborative family law process. In the collaborative process, you and your spouse each hire separate attorneys for the sole purpose of helping you reach a settlement. Collaborative attorneys are prevented by contract from engaging in expensive contested courtroom proceedings. Accordingly, they focus their attention – and your resources – on helping you and your spouse come to an agreement, rather than preparing for trial or playing litigation games.
2. Retain a Neutral Collaborative Facilitator and Neutral Financial Professional
Though it may seem counter-intuitive, hiring a Neutral Collaborative Facilitator and Neutral Financial Professional can save you money. Here is how: A Collaborative Facilitator, who is generally a trained mental health professional, can cut through the clutter of emotionally-charged issues (such as child custody or alimony) and help the parties focus on (i) what is important to them and (ii) the future. This moves clients away from positions and helps them come to an agreement they can live with more quickly, and thus less expensively.
A Neutral Financial Professional, who is usually either a licensed financial planner or certified public accountant, gathers and analyzes the financial documents and information which the parties are required by Florida law to exchange. In non-collaborative divorce matters, this step is usually done by each parties’ attorney. Using a financial professional is more cost-effective because you have one neutral professional charging for mandatory disclosure rather than two separately-billing attorneys. Further, because of the neutral financial professional’s training and expertise, he or she can gather and analyze the documents and information – and develop financial settlement options – much more quickly than attorneys can.
3. Don’t Argue Over The Vacuum Cleaner
I recently attended a training on streamlining collaborative practice taught by the Collaborative Divorce Institute, and they had a list of actions and things that parties should avoid if they want to reduce the costs of their divorce. This included the following: (i) Withholding pertinent information; (ii) Talking more than listening; (iii) Cancelling scheduled meetings; (iv) Not completing tasks you have committed to completing; (v) Not asking for help when you are confused; and (vi) Being unrealistic about your budget and cash-flow.
There was an additional suggestion for clients that I suggest can save a lot of money: Don’t argue over the vacuum cleaner! Whether it is a vacuum cleaner, or a guitar, or an armoire, I have seen clients waste thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees arguing over an object worth maybe a few hundred dollar. Again, in the collaborative process, this is often where the neutral collaborative facilitator becomes essential in keeping costs down and redirecting parties to what is important and to their future.
If you want to learn more about how the collaborative divorce process can save your families’ hard-earned dollars, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.
Adam B. Cordover is President of Next Generation Divorce, a practice group of collaborative attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals dedicated to helping families resolve their disputes respectfully, privately, and cost-effectively. Next Generation Divorce covers Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties.