Skip to Content

Top Ten Ways to Spend Less on Your Divorce

Sep 28, 2021 | Written by: William J. Rudnik, Esq. |

Divorce can be very expensive.  It can also be somewhat inexpensive.  While this may seem contrary to my own interests as a divorce attorney, I never want to see a client stuck in a divorce situation that is costing both parties a fortune in attorney’s fees.  Although I believe that experienced family law attorneys are worth every penny of their fees, given the value of their expertise, there is no reason that your divorce needs to cost tens of thousands of dollars. Below are the top ten ways you can avoid spending more than you should during your divorce.

  1. Try to resolve as much as you can directly with your spouse. While it may be easier said than done in a divorce situation, the easiest way to save money on attorney’s fees is to try to resolve issues directly with your spouse.  Start with issues that will be easy to resolve and then work toward the issues that may be more difficult. However, it is a good idea to at least have an initial consultation with an attorney to understand the law, so that you have an idea as to how the issues should be settled before discussing them with your spouse.
  1. Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution. If you meet with an attorney, he or she will provide you information about Alternative Dispute Resolution options such as mediation, collaborative divorce, and arbitration.  Alternative Dispute Resolution is a great way to settle your case without having to litigate in court, and it almost always results in saving money on attorney’s fees and expert fees if the case can be resolved.
  1. Be reasonable. If you let your emotions guide your decision-making, it is likely you will spend a lot more on attorney’s fees than necessary.  If you take a reasonable position and try to keep your emotions out of your decision-making, it is more likely you will be able to settle your case earlier in the process, and as a result, you will spend less.  The longer your case goes on, and the more attorney work that needs to be done, the more you will pay in attorney’s fees. 
  1. Speak with your attorney about how to reduce attorney’s fees when dealing with a difficult adversary or spouse. While you have control over whether you are reasonable and your attorney has control over the advice and recommendations he/she provides, neither you or your attorney has any ability to control the other side of the divorce process. If the other attorney or your spouse is unreasonable, you should discuss with your attorney how to address those issues to try to avoid a substantial amount of attorney’s fees.  While ultimately it may not be possible to reduce the fees if the other side is being unreasonable and dragging the case out, you can consider things like deciding how often your attorney responds to frequent nasty letters from the other side, as at times it is okay not to respond in kind, or at all.
  1. Listen to your attorney. You are paying your attorney for his/her advice and expertise.  While ultimately you decide on the positions you want to take, if you do not listen to your attorney, you are wasting your money and it is likely you will spend more on attorney’s fees in the end.  Your attorney will guide you to try to get the case resolved without spending a fortune on attorney’s fees.
  1. Avoid filing motions. A motion is a request for the court to take action on an issue while the divorce is going on.  This is an extremely expensive process, typically costing each party in the range of $5,000 to $7,000 in attorney’s fees just for the motion.  Often times neither party gets the result they want from a motion.  It is best to try to avoid filing motions unless it is absolutely necessary.
  1. Avoid contacting your attorney for small issues. Often times there are many small annoying issues when going through a divorce.  It is best to either deal with those issues yourself or wait until there are enough small issues that it is worth contacting your attorney to address them all at once.  The more often you contact your attorney, the more expensive your case will be. 
  1. Do not use your attorney as a therapist. While it is important to provide your attorney with some background and, on occasion, to vent about what is going on, do not use your attorney as a therapist.  It is a good idea to have a therapist while going through a divorce.  However, although your attorney may have lots of practical advice, he/she does not have the expertise to act as your therapist and it is likely that his/her hourly rate is higher than your therapist’s.
  1. Avoid going to trial whenever possible. While each party will spend a substantial amount of attorney’s fees to get to the point where a case is going to trial, a trial will significantly multiply what was already spent in attorney’s fees.  It is not uncommon for the fees for a trial to be between $10,000 and $50,000, not including experts who may be necessary.  For every hour spent in court on testimony, you can anticipate at least three hours of prep time by your attorney.  Trials are a bad idea for many reasons, but certainly the cost is one of the most significant.
  1. Be wary of spending more battling over an issue than it is worth. Attorneys will often advise clients not to spend $500 in attorney’s fees arguing over a blender that costs $250 to replace.  Sometimes there are sentimental items that have a much greater value than the replacement cost.  You also cannot place a value on custody or parenting time.  For all other issues you must be wary of the value of what you are arguing over, and the amount of money being spent on attorney’s fees.

Although there is no way to predict how much money you will spend on your divorce, by following the practical tips above you can certainly spend less than you would otherwise.


William J. Rudnik, Esq. is a partner with Gebhardt & Kiefer, PC.  He is certified by the NJ Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Law Attorney.  In addition to handling divorce litigation, he is qualified as a Mediator in the field of Family Law under the New Jersey Court rules, and he is trained in Collaborative Divorce. Contact Mr. Rudnik at 908-735-5161 or via email.

If you have a suggestion for a future blog topic, please feel free to submit it via the Contact Us form.

Any statements made herein are solely for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice.