Maybe you’ve seen the ads online for a low-cost divorce. But in the end, you know the cheap option isn’t always the best. Still, you’d like to cut costs where you can. This blog will talk through some ways to keep costs manageable during a divorce.
Let’s face it—nobody going through a divorce wants to spend thousands of dollars and hours going in-and-out of court. But low-cost divorce isn’t always a good way to go. Businesses who advertise these services are often not well-qualified to help you accomplish what you need. Whether that’s dividing property and debts, or getting a good custody and visitation order in place, you need qualified representation.
You Get What You Pay For
Most businesses that advertise low-cost divorce simply draft the paperwork for you and give you minimal guidance about what to do with it. They are not attorneys and can only type forms for you based on what you ask them to do.
In California, what many people think of as a “paralegal” is actually known as a “legal document assistant” (LDA). They are bonded and licensed as a non-lawyer to prepare documents for people who are representing themselves in court. A true paralegal in California works for a licensed attorney under his or her direct supervision.
Another thing to keep in mind is that an LDA cannot provide you with any legal advice, nor can the court clerks at the Family Court. If you see an ad for a $250 divorce, you’re not going to get a full set of services from a skilled, licensed legal advisor or experienced attorney.
Generally, an LDA will just prepare your forms, which could be correct, or not. Not to say that LDA services aren’t good for some people, because they may be. But you should consider what you have to lose if you don’t get proper legal advice and assistance.
How To Keep Costs Low
If you do use an attorney, one way to obtain a low-cost divorce is to cooperate with your attorney and provide them all the documents and information they need. Follow their instructions and advice as quickly and as thoroughly as you can. The more running around and copying of documents you can do yourself, the less your attorney’s office will have to do. That saves you money.
If you have a distant but cordial relationship with your estranged spouse, keep it that way. Don’t antagonize them or hide assets, or refuse to follow court orders, especially in regard to your property and children. Be reasonable and rely on your attorney to let you know if things are going well.
Using an attorney may cost more than a low-cost divorce, but you could be saving yourself much more in terms of your assets and parent-child relationships. Fighting things out in court is stressful for anyone going through a divorce. Settling a case is typically preferred.
Knowing this, you can try to work with your attorney to stay within a budget and help you wherever possible. At JWB Family Law, we want to help you navigate the divorce process. If you need qualified legal advice in San Diego County call us at: 619.234.6123.
The Importance of the CFLS Designation
A Certified Family Law Specialist, or CFLS, is an attorney who has obtained certification in the standards of California family law and demonstrated optimal legal competence. Attorneys who obtain this certification have specific expertise in all aspects of family law, which includes divorce or the dissolution of marriage, child and spousal support, child custody, and temporary restraining orders, among other areas of emphasis.
Not every attorney practicing family law has obtained this certification. In fact, the designation remains relatively rare—there are fewer than 2,000 CFLS attorneys in California and fewer than 200 in San Diego.