Another way to significantly reduce the cost of your divorce is to make sure that you have a complete record of all the assets in your home.
You want to know what you’re going to divide between the two of you. You do not want to be vague when you start the process with your lawyer and say it is ’everything in the living room.’
A good, quick way to make a complete inventory of the items in your home is to borrow or use a video camera. Rent one if you have to. Use your cell phone; it doesn’t matter.
Walk around and film everything. Open cabinets; lift things, so you capture everything on video. Video your front and back yard, if you have one.
If it has a serial number on it, write it down.
When it comes time to separate assets, you want to know what you’re dealing with in the home. You want to make sure you have a record of everything.
You don’t want a situation where one person claims an item in the house, for example, a video game controller. The last time you remember seeing the object was around Christmas of last year when you gave it away to a young family member.
You want to make sure you know what was in the house at the most recent point in time. Later on, during the stress of divorce, people start to remember things that were supposed to be in the house that is no longer there. They exaggerate. For example, they may claim there were 100 CDs in the collection, and they want 50 of them. Well, you scratch your head and remember there only being 60 CDs all together. Guess what? That’s probably not going to be an equal split.
If there is something unique or unusual you own, spend extra time recording it.
If it was given to you before your marriage, make sure you have a good record of it.
For example, a family heirloom or antique furniture, silver spoons, a gift given to you when you were born, a wall hanging, or certificates.
Make sure you can support the fact that it was yours before the relationship. You may need to get a legally binding affidavit or sworn statement was given to you by the particular person. Make sure you have a good record of the source of the item. Later on, people going through a divorce often go through a ‘reality distortion field.’ They say things like, “I got used to this item being there all the time; it’s now part of my life.”
Suppose it’s a grandfather clock. It was part of the home, so it has become part of the settlement. But the point is this. If it was there before the relationship, then there is a good reason not to give it up once the relationship ends.
When putting an inventory together, make a note if it was an item you had before the marriage.
Saving Money on Lawyer Meetings And Phone Calls.
If you can conduct business with your lawyer over the phone, then do so. If you can avoid driving across town when a phone call will do, then do that. Remember, even a short meeting isn’t a brief meeting.
When you use a phone, you only pay for the time you spend talking to your lawyer. But suppose you decide to see your lawyer, consider all the added costs.
First, you have to get there. Then you wait in the waiting room. There are parking costs. They may offer you coffee, and you’ll wait 15 – 20 minutes if you’re lucky. Then you’ll see the busy lawyer. You will exchange pleasantries and discuss the weather and maybe sports. Only then do you talk about talk business? You are paying for this time.
Your best option is to do this over the phone. If the lawyer says, “Why don’t you just stop by my office to meet briefly about your case?” you say, “NO!” You want to make sure that any time you spend on your case is spent on your case and not on other distractions.
When you get your bill, it will often be very general. You want to know what your lawyer was doing. On your invoice, you will only see some generalized entries. For example, you will see: ’phone call with client’ or maybe, ‘meeting with a client.’
You may not remember all these things. So make sure you keep all these interactions with your lawyer in a diary. You want to make sure you know what’s happening when it’s supposed to happen and who said what to whom.
You want to record the most current events in the proceedings.
You are entitled to your file when your case ends, and there is an agreement to your separate ways. I recommend that you ask for your file. You want it back; you don’t want it stored at your lawyer’s office.
Take that material and store it somewhere safe, maybe your storage locker. There are occasions when the court or your former partner will revisit the case and revisit the settlement.
By having your papers readily available, you are in a position to expedite the process and save money finding those papers once again.
Also, you may decide that you don’t want to use the same lawyer again. You might have moved to a location that makes dealing with the lawyer inconvenient. Or maybe you decide that you want a different lawyer, as your personalities were not a good fit.
You want to make sure you have all your options available to you. You don’t want your lawyer storing those files for you; as pointed out earlier, some may even charge you money for storage.
Also, you don’t want to be stuck going back to a lawyer that you weren’t happy with in the first place.
There is also a benefit to seeking a new lawyer if you feel that your old lawyer may want to litigate formerly resolved issues instead of focusing on the latest disputes.