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Separation and divorce is expensive; and even in a good economic climate, people are always looking for ways to save money when going through a divorce. Most of us do not have a divorce attorney as a line item in our family budgets, but the good news is that there are great ways to save money on legal fees. On the other hand, there are also some not-so-great ways that might save a few dollars up front but could cost you an arm and a leg in the long run.
So what are the good ways to save on legal fees?
One of the not-so-good ideas that might save you a few dollars up front but could cost you dearly in the end is drafting your own separation agreement. So many sample separation agreements exist on the internet, in libraries (and in the world of virtual books), and from other do-it-yourself divorce resources. Additionally, almost every one of us knows someone else who has gone through a divorce and who is willing to share his or her separation agreement to give you an idea of what you might want to do with your own.
USE CAUTION!!! A separation agreement is an important document that covers some of the most sensitive and significant issues you will ever have to address. Some internet and other do-it-yourself resources are woefully inadequate. Divorce laws vary greatly from state to state, and you want to make sure that whatever agreement you are able to negotiate is enforceable. Additionally, there are many seemingly boilerplate provisions in a separation agreement that can change the entire nature of the agreement.
Finally, each case has its own set of unique and specific facts, and your agreement needs to be tailored to those facts. I have spent a lot of time (and my clients’ money) fixing agreements that they have drafted on their own. Make the investment and do it right the first time.
There are so many good ways to help manage your legal fees in a separation and divorce. Take advantage of these tips, and be on the lookout for more in future posts!
Lynn Wilson McNally is a partner in the firm and member of the firm’s Family Law practice group. She is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist and certified Family Financial Settlement Mediator by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission. She represents individuals in matters regarding separation, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, equitable distribution, domestic violence, termination of parental rights, legitimation and other matters pertaining to family law....LEARN MORE