By Annie Finnigan
The best divorce in the world is still going to cost everyone something. But, says Jennifer Tull, an attorney and president of the board of trustees of the Collaborative Law Institute of Austin, Texas, "Couples doing a collaborative divorce usually spend half as much as when lawyers go head-to-head and about a quarter of the cost of going to trial." A big savings is that couples share financial information, avoiding attorney fees to search for hidden assets or property (a process called discovery).
Saving money was very much on the minds of Angela Bassett, a school counselor with a son and daughter, 13 and 11, and her ex, a family-law attorney, when they ended their 14-year marriage. "We both knew that when couples fight over the property, it's the lawyers who win -- they get all the money," says Angela, 42, who lives in Austin, Texas.
She and her husband had some major details to thrash out -- they both wanted the house, and she wanted more child support. In roundtable meetings her ex's attorney reminded him that the kids, who were staying with Angela, would feel more secure in the home where they grew up. In turn, Angela's attorney was able to talk her down from her initial financial demands. The cost of Angela's divorce came in at around $8,000; about half of what she probably would have paid if her case had ended up going to court.