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How To Reduce The Trauma and the Expense of a Divorce

Cynthia M. Fox

Divorce is costly. There is an emotional and psychological toll as well as the energy drain for even the most amicable dissolutions. Typically, the parties are also hurt and angry. Mix in some contentiousness and a desire to settle old scores and it can take years to get back what is paid out in over spent emotions.   Not to mention the financial cost. But, I must. Two people live more cheaply together than apart. After divorce, there are two mortgages and two homes to furnish, not to mention all the inefficiencies of buying just for one. But, I am ahead of myself. Before getting on with life, both parties have to pay their attorneys and these moneys come out of the "marital pot" that is divided...usually 50/50...between husband and wife.

This article discuss how to reduce the legal cost of the divorce, while also lessening the emotional and psychological pain. Many of these principles are incorporated into a unique method of divorce practice called the Constructive Divorce®, which is designed to help clients get on with their life with their emotional and financial resources intact. Here are four things to lower your legal bill:
  1. Be prepared when you meet or communicate with your attorney. This is a period of high anxiety and all sorts of questions and concerns will emerge, which is all the more reason to spend time outlining your thoughts ....on paper...before you fire off that email, or call or visit your lawyer. Identify your goals and priorities, list the questions you need answered, and bring that outline to bear on the communication, whether in-person, on the telephone or at the keyboard Insist that your attorney be organized and focused also. If he/she can't or won't, find one that will. Many of my colleagues are over booked and under prepared and prone to drift right along with their client.

  2. Don't confuse your lawyer with your psychotherapist. A good divorce lawyer is compassionate and supportive, empathetic to the pain of their clients. But, their primary role is to get you through the legal process providing guidance on dividing the property, determining custody and parenting plans for any children, and insuring that the support needs of everyone are met. These are evocative topics...some amount of emoting is normal... just monitor yourself to make sure you're staying focused on the legal process. If you aren't, this could signal a need for on-going support. I assure you there are better-qualified and less expensive resources than your divorce lawyer. Usually friends, family, or clergy are available to help. Employee assistance personnel at your job can also be helpful as well as a professional therapist.

  3. Work through your anger; don't get stuck in it. Many clients come to their divorce intent on hurting their spouse, to make him or her respond. They demand endless inquiries...motions, discovery actions, depositions...into every aspect of their spouse's life well beyond what is needed to bring about a just resolution. This often happens when infidelity is suspected even though proving unfaithfulness rarely influences the outcome of a case. Carrying out these demands spikes the fees and its impact is doubled when the other side responds in kind.

  4. Do your "homework". Every case requires information that only the client can provide, such as a statement of property. I supply the forms and guidance; the client provides the information. Some clients procrastinate. Others fail to send in the information when needed or the form is incomplete. As a result, appointments are unproductive, as are conferences with the other side, and they have to be rescheduled.

For over 25 years Cynthia M. Fox has focused her practice in family law, with a particular emphasis on matters relating to the dissolution of marriage: divorce representation and mediation, child custody and child support. She is a native St. Louis and a graduate of the Washington University School of Law, Class of '73.

Cynthia M. Fox can be contacted by phone at (314)727-4880 or
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