Couples in New York and across the U.S. who are separating often worry about the high cost associated with divorce, but there may be ways to keep the expenses under control. It is important for individuals to bear in mind that they have more control over the situation than they may think, and how much a divorce will ultimately cost is directly impacted by how well a couple can communicate and if they can treat each other in a reasonable, fair and honest manner.

In the case of an uncontested divorce that proceeds smoothly, it is estimated that a divorce can be handled for about $1,500. In the event that a couple cannot reach agreements and decisions are contested at every turn, the cost for a couple can easily rise to $20,000.

One of the common mistakes couples can avoid is fighting over minor parenting decisions. Having lawyers debate minor issues like how much time the kids will spend with grandparents only serves to drive up the billable legal hours and overall cost. Individuals should remember that the attorney is there to handle legal issues, not to engage in emotional discussions or serve as a therapist. Couples also fall into the trap of inflexibility as they argue over minor financial points. The desire to be right and prove some kind of moral point can prove costly. Often, it’s better financially and emotionally to let these small points slide and focus on the bigger picture.

An attorney can help an individual prepare for the divorce financially by looking at assets, budgets and other financial issues. They can guide people away from the minor arguments and help them stay focused on the more important divorce issues. While an attorney cannot help with the emotional side of the divorce, they can take steps to protect their client’s best financial interests throughout the legal process.

Source: Today Money, “How to get divorced without breaking the bank,” Susan Caminiti, Feb. 9, 2015