Divorce is a costly experience. If we are not prepared enough, we can squander lots of money. A divorce solicitor may not be aware of certain things that will lead you to spend more money than needed, or it can happen that they don’t care about it. In today’s episode, I want to share with you the money-saving tips a divorce solicitor won’t tell you. 

Let’s get into it:

Timestamps 

What a pandemic does to a couple [00:02:00]

The 80/20 % rule before consulting a lawyer [00:04:30]

Picking the right lawyer [00:06:00] 

What worked with a friend might not be the best for you [00:07:30]

Why lawyers can be so expensive [00:09:30]

Mediation rather than litigation [00:11:30]

Try to keep it amicable [00:13:00]

Difference between the $450 and the $750 lawyer [00:15:00]

Lawyers are not therapists [00:17:30]

Links

Podcast Episode #36 – Mediation Rather Than Litigation

https://tanyasomerton.com/mediation-rather-than-litigation/

Trello Divorce Template

https://divorceangel.vipmembervault.com/products/courses/view/1008393/?action=signup

My book: The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering Independence through Divorce

https://tanyasomerton.com/shop/the-jelly-bean-jar/

Join my Free Facebook Group here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/divorceangel/

Divorce Roadmap Session:

https://tanyasomerton.com/divorce-roadmap/

Transcription

Hey there, and welcome back to the divorce Angel podcast. Wow, what a difficult time we are having right now. It doesn’t matter what part of the world you live in. The interesting thing about this, it made me realize how small we are. Because we feel the pain and anguish in Italy, in France, in Spain, in America, in the UK, it does not matter where you leave, we all feel your pain. And I’m very receptive to what is going on. To be honest, it has taken its toll on me. I am normally a happy person, I can see the good in everything. And it’s very hard for all of us to say where this is going to end, what’s going to happen. Self-isolation or lockdown, no matter where you live, causes a whole lot of other problems. And one of those problems, unfortunately, is putting more pressure on relationships and marriages that already are at breaking point. 

2:05  

We see the good and bad in humanity at a time like this. If you’re a business owner, the stress of running a business can cause issues in a relationship. But right now, if you’re in hospitality, or some sort of personal grooming, or any sort of business where you have to touch other people, your business has been forced to close down. And that pressure is immense when we’ve got bills to pay. And not only are we worrying about staff members and how we’re going to pay the bills of them, but we also worry about their families. The consequences and the stress on people at the moment are like something I’ve never seen in my lifetime, and hopefully never see again, but the problem is, is when we’re bringing all of that home, it puts more pressure on our relationship. 

3:06  

So if your relationship was already at an end, this is just gonna be the catalyst, it’s gonna make it even worse. If you’re in that position, we have to bide our time and get through this next period until we can start putting steps in place to help and support you in the future. 

In this podcast, I wanted to bring together bits

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and pieces of a few podcasts have already done, and highlight some key tips. Outlining the money-saving tips that divorce solicitors or lawyers aren’t telling people, might be able to help you. Even if you can’t leave the relationship because of the lockdown, you can start thinking about these things, and some homework. So let’s start at where most people think that they need to become. So if you’re thinking about getting a divorce, chances are that you assumed that the next step is to start looking up a good lawyer to represent you. And if that is you, I’m telling you just to be aware, because it’s not something that I get my clients to do. 

4:27  

First and foremost, I get them to start to put together a history before they even consider going to a lawyer. We try and do 80% if we can before we involve the lawyer, and that’s how we’re able to keep our client’s costs low. But if you’re doing this yourself, your divorce is unique, and no two divorces are the same. 

You need to make sure that you find the right person to represent you that can fulfil your needs, and knows exactly how to react to your partner, whether that be your wife or your husband. 

I was talking to a lawyer this week and it was interesting because she was saying how she was known as a ballbreaker. And people would come to her and go, you’ve got this reputation that you’re aggressive, and I want to hire you. And she said to me, the interesting thing was, she wasn’t a ballbreaker. She wanted to try and prevent everyone from going to court. But sometimes, it just worked out that way. And she would end up in a courtroom, even when that was the last thing she wanted. And the reputation of a ballbreaker was upsetting her because she didn’t want to be known as that person. 

Don’t get me wrong, she said that she loved protecting and getting the best outcome for her clients, that there is always a better way, and I want to get that across to you, fighting is not the answer. 

6:03  

It makes everything worse, it compounds, it brings on all of these other emotional and stresses into people’s lives. And if we could figure out a way to work together for a short time, and whether we never had to see that person again, or we only had to communicate these short periods, then our life would be so much better. 

It’s easy for me to tell you that because I’ve been through it. It’s easy for me to tell you that because I witness it and I see the collateral damage that happens to people’s lives when they don’t listen to me. And it’s heartbreaking but I can’t make someone do what they don’t want to do. Each divorce is different. No two divorces are ever the same, so the results are unique for all parties.

 A lot of people do the mistake of picking their lawyer based on a referral from someone. And like I said, if your friend says, oh, go to my lawyer or, she was a ballbreaker, that might not be what you need to do. Because if you go to a ballbreaker as such, and your partner is prepared to be amicable, an alert is gone out, and you’ve started world war three, and it might never have needed to get to that stage. 

7:29  

Hopefully, you understand what I’m trying to say here. If you think that you need to be aggressive, and you don’t, you are only making everything worse. Your circumstances, your debts, your financial picture, your family needs and your individual needs are all unique to you. And you might have the same number of children, but it does not predetermine what your split might be. 

You might have different assets, you might have a business that needs to get valued. And you may have inherited money, you might have come in with different amounts of financial stability at the start of your relationship, and therefore your split might be completely different from your friends’. 

Do your homework, just because someone says this lawyer was right for them does not mean it’s right for you. And it can cost you money, and it can cost you time. And more than that, he could start a war. 

We’ve all heard the saying “time is money”, and there is no other time in a person’s life, then this is true when you’re dealing with a lawyer and you’re getting a divorce. 

We like to get a fixed fee for our clients, or we like to at least get an idea of a quoted price. The other thing that we like to do is put together working documents for our lawyers. The disclosure is provided upfront, and the reason we do that is to limit the costs for the client. Because when I was going through my divorce, the thing that kept me awake at night was how am I ever going to pay this legal bill? What is it going to be? Oh my god, I’m too scared to talk to the lawyer just in case it cost me another thousand dollars. 

All of these things were continually going through my head. And I don’t want that for you. Just remember that when a lawyer is billing you, charging by increments, they go to the higher end of the increment. 

9:35  

Let me explain. If they are charging by six-minute increments, and you talk to them for five minutes, you will be charged for six minutes. If you talk to them for seven minutes, you will be charged for 12 minutes because they work it out to the highest next increment. 

Can you imagine if over six months you dealt with a lawyer, can you see how much it would cost you for the time that was never used? 

And I would love to see some form of evidence on this, but I can’t find it anywhere. I would love to see how much additional time people are charged that has never been used. Don’t let that happen to you. 

The best way to try and manage your money is by maintaining what I call a divorce folder. I also get my clients to do it on a Trello board if they like, or they can do a manual divorce folder. If you want to look at the Trello board, you can go onto my website. I have a template Trello board which you can download and you can carry that everywhere with you on your phone, on your iPad, wherever, and you can start to be putting your paperwork together. 

Or you can start putting together all the necessary information and evidence that you need to support your divorce in a manual folder.

Now, if you guys are amicable, you could sit down and both do a divorce folder to get two folders with the same information. If you’re not using a lawyer, you’ve got the evidence in front of you to prove what each of you got in your bank account what you have, as far as assets, business values, whatever the case may be. 

11:34  

Now, if that seems completely unreasonable, and you have to do this alone, that’s okay. You just put together all this information, you photocopy it, and what you can do is have two folders, one for you and the other that you hand over to your lawyer. You could mark them the same and number the pages. And when your lawyer is looking at something they might say, right, I’m on page 34 and I can see that there’s a copy of your tax return here. Can you explain what this means? If you’re on the end of the phone, you open up page 34. And straight away, you are both talking and working off the same sheet.

That’s going to save you money because there’s not information being emailed back and forth. Be very, very clever with how you do this, and it can save you money. 

The next point is around mediation. If you go into mediation, and you guys are going to share everything 50/50, then that is great. You can work out a very amicable agreement with your mediator. So for a time, I’m not going to go into mediation, but if you’d like to know more, go back and listen to Episode 36 where we talk about mediation and get more understanding of how that process works. 

13:03  

Then the next one is if you and your spouse are amicable, you can save a fortune. It’s obvious, isn’t it? I’ve got a client at the moment who will probably be sorted out, have consent orders. Everything is done within about four weeks. She and her ex-husband have sat down, they’ve worked out to give us a list of their assets and their liabilities. They’ve done a fair and reasonable split. And they’ve worked it out as a team. These guys have been married for over 30 years. So you would think that they would have a lot of emotion tied with their divorce, but they’re thinking about the bigger picture. They are thinking about their children and their grandchildren, and they know if they can lead by example, this family will benefit from it as well.

Now, I realized this is not possible for everyone. But I realize too, and this is the warning that I’m giving you, for every action, there is a reaction or a consequence. If you do something that you know is going to cause your partner to get upset, be prepared for the ramifications of that.

14:25  

However, if you work together and try and control those emotions and actions, then you could be like this client I was just talking about. And you could get this over and done within a short period, but it depends on how you want to tackle it. 

Now, the next thing probably seems a little bit obvious, but when I do talk to people about it, they don’t understand it. But the larger the legal firm you go to, not necessarily will you get a better result. Recently had a bit of a lightbulb moment when it comes to this. And it could be my belief, it could be my interpretation. But this is what I have seen. There’s a lot of really good lawyers out there who probably charge somewhere between the $ 350 and $ 450 mark. Then you’ve got other lawyers that are from $ 650 to $ 850. 

The ones that are on the $ 750 mark, they are normally the owners of the business. The reason they are charging themselves at $ 750 an hour is because they don’t need to be talking with clients. They are the operator of the business, consider them the CEO or the managing director. So for them, if they going to take on a case they’re going to do it but they want to get paid handsomely for it because otherwise, they might just be doing what they were doing before and running their business, and letting the other staff get billable hours. 

So if they’re going to take on a client, and they’re going to pay him $700, $850, well, why wouldn’t you, because there’s benefit in it for them. Where the other staff members or the other lawyers are getting paid $ 450, it’s worthwhile. Now the person paying that figure thinks they are getting a much better level of service because they’re paying that amount of money. 

16:34  

But what I’ve witnessed is that even though that person that you’re paying the $ 750, you think that they’re acting on your behalf, they’re going back to their office and they’ve got someone else, an undergrad, or a lawyer doing all the work. And then it’s sort of charging you, let’s say at a retail price when they’ve got someone doing it at a wholesale price workload.

I have, without a doubt, see some of the best outcomes come from the lawyers who are around the $ 350 $450 mark. I’ve seen some of them come up against these so-called $ 750 lawyers and they’ve out-thought them because they’re doing it day in, day out. 

The last thing is, your lawyer is not your therapist. Let’s say that you’ve chosen a lawyer at $450 an hour, that lawyer is not your therapist. If you do have emotional issues, or you are struggling with your relationship, do not tell your lawyer about it. It’s not their job. From the lawyers that I’ve spoken to two things happen, either they don’t want to hear it, but they listen to it anyway. Or, they want to hear it, and they don’t care, but they want to hear it because they know they can bill you for it. 

18:08  

My advice to you is, go and pay $150 an hour for a really good therapist who can help you deal with your emotional issues. Your lawyer can’t help you deal with the emotional issues. Just stick to the legal advice you need to get from the lawyer and stick to the emotional advice with your therapist or your counsellor. 

Lastly, if you haven’t left your relationship yet, and you are struggling with how to talk to your partner and convey how you’re feeling, we put together a five video series program with a workbook to help our clients.

It’s something that I workshop with my clients one on one when they’re at this stage. But for you guys out there, we’ve put together this free resource, and I’d love for you to go and use it.

I hope to help you get through this really difficult time with some advice and support from us. So you can find it on our website. Go to www.tanyasomerton.com, go to programs, and then go to our free resources called the Action Center. Now, in the Action Center, we’ve got some free ebooks, we’ve got this course and some other things that you might find of help and support there. If you want to go through that it will help you get clear in your mind on how to have this initial conversation. Because how you start your separation will be how you end it.

19:46  

You don’t want to start it by placing blame and having a messy font. You want to start it calmly and have a clear idea of what you want to get out of it. I’m sending all my love. Hopefully, we’ll be out of this soon. Okay, I’ll talk to you later. Bye for now. 

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