5 Tips for Making Divorce Less Expensive
Want to break your marital bonds — but not your budget? Every divorce situation is unique, but here are five ways couples may be able to save a little (or a lot) on their divorce proceedings:
Skip Court: As a Fox Business article about divorce on the cheap points out, going to court should be a last resort for divorcing couples trying to cut expenses because litigating in court costs both time and money. Two alternatives that may cost less? Mediation and arbitration. In mediation, couples meet with a neutral third party mediator to negotiate and make their own decisions about their divorce settlement. When mediation works, the process often ends up being faster and cheaper than divorce court. In arbitration, couples settle out of court by having a hired arbitrator make decisions for them, much like a judge would. Because the process typically takes less time, the cost can also be less.
Consider What’s Worth Fighting Over: Before discussions over dividing marital assets turn into drawn out battles, carefully consider what’s worth fighting over. If you do a cost/benefit analysis, is it really worth thousands of dollars to spend your time fighting over a $500 couch?
To avoid prolonging the process, and consequently sending precious time and money down the drain, try to keep your emotions in check as you consider certain assets and their worth. Can you easily buy a new couch? Yes. Can you easily start all over again saving up for retirement? No. In fact, not fighting over the small stuff may put you in a more powerful position when it’s time to state your demands for what really matters. (See our blog, “Three Secrets to Successful Divorce Negotiations” for more.)
Keep Child Custody in Perspective: To possibly avoid the time (and therefore money) involved in child custody fights, first take a deep breath and then look at the matter from your child’s perspective. What’s truly best for your child? You may not want to share custody with your child with your soon-to-be ex because your feeling are still too raw right now. But even if you don’t want to ever see this person again for as long as you live, do you think your child feels the same way? There are, of course, exceptions, but in most families, it is in the best interest of the child to spend time with both parents. Keep this in mind before making a demands based on your own hurt feelings.
Hire the Right Professionals: In your divorce, you may need to hire lawyers, accountants and other specialists. As Laurie Dyke, certified public accountant tells FOX Business, “Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish. If you hire someone good who knows what they’re doing, you’ll get the work done faster and more efficiently.”
If you are paying by the hour, efficiency matters!
Likewise, if you have worked with a tax attorney or personal injury before, you may be tempted to seek this person’s help in your divorce matter. Be aware that by going this route, you may be in for more headaches than you bargained for — and made to pay more money in longer court proceedings and going back to court if anything is botched. As you consider hiring a divorce attorney, look for a family law attorney who specializes in divorce.
The same goes for representing yourself. It may seem like you will save money in the short term. But what if the price of saving money on a lawyer is getting a less than fair settlement on your part? Think this one over carefully.
Get Organized: To reduce the amount of time spent in your attorney’s office, do your best behind the scenes to prepare and get organized. Ask for a list of needed documents from your lawyer and ask how they’d like to receive the documents, whether by year or account. Next, get yourself an accordion folder or portable file box and start organizing in the preferred way. Not only will your lawyer will thank you, but having complete financial documents helps you make the best case possible for your asset claims.
For more tips, see our blog, “Staying Organized During Divorce“