Besides being a process that can be emotionally draining, filing for divorce can also be an extremely costly process and its effects can be long-lasting on your financial wellbeing. In order to assist you in avoiding unnecessary costs when it comes to divorce, we have compiled a list of our top 12 ways to save money during the process.
- Be Organized
Being organized when navigating the divorce process can save you a lot of time and money. At the start of divorce proceedings, you will be required to gather information and documents relating to your financial and marital affairs and having this information collated and ready can be a real cost saver. When dealing with your attorney, you will be charged for every follow up for information they need to do, including every phone call or email. By having all the information that is required of you and presenting it upfront, you will avoid any unnecessary and additional costs an attorney could potentially charge you for.
- Make Use of a Mediator
The services of an attorney can be one of the biggest costs associated with a divorce. Should you be on relatively amicable terms with your spouse and agree to an uncontested divorce, making use of a mediator is a great way to limit the services you require from an attorney. While you may still need an initial consultation with an attorney (which can be done through free consultations offered by some firms), a mediator will be able to facilitate discussion between you and your spouse to ensure that you reach quick and fair agreements on how your assets should be split. While mediators cannot provide legal advice, they are skilled in assisting couples to save time and money in coming to divorce settlements which both parties are happy with; all of which can be achieved without an attorney.
- Understand Professional Fee Agreements
Regardless of whether you will be making use of the services from lawyers, paralegals, mediators or accountants, ensure that you read and understand their fee structure and the agreements you have with them. As mentioned before, you will typically be charged for all the assistance a professional provides including all email and telephone correspondence. By having a good understanding of how you will be billed, you can avoid incurring costs or correspondence which could be avoided through your own research.
- Use Professionals Sparingly
As with making use of a mediator in place of an attorney, you may also be able to save costs by limiting the use of professionals as much as possible. The first way you can do this is by limiting the number of paid hours you accumulate with your attorney or other necessary professionals. Many attorneys will offer the first hour of consultation free which may provide sufficient guidance for you at the start of your divorce proceedings. Make use of as many of these free hours as possible and should you need paid services, limit these for problem solving or guidance which you cannot find yourself through research.
- Be Honest
When dealing with your spouse as well as any persons handling your divorce, always be open and honest. Withholding information about your marriage to your attorney or about your financial assets to your spouse will only cost you more money and hassle down the line. As divorce is a process that requires extensive deep diving into your personal affairs, it is unlikely that any information you conceal will not be uncovered. Save yourself time and money by being honest with all parties involved throughout the entire process.
- Track All Expenses
From the moment it becomes apparent that your marriage will end in divorce, start tracking all of your personal household expenses. This will not only help you to create a budget you can use after your divorce but will be useful during divorce proceedings when calculating maintenance or alimony to be paid. Being aware of where you spend, and possibly waste money is a great way to begin saving money on the cost of divorce. Determining a realistic picture of what it costs you to live on your own and what your personal expenses are is an invaluable exercise when determining how much support or maintenance you should be receiving or paying to your spouse.
- Balance Your Financial Power with Your Spouse
If either you or your spouse has typically handled your finances with the other spouse taking a backseat, get prepared for this to change. If you have been the one to handle all aspects of money management, you will need to accept and hand over some control and accept input on how money is spent on shared responsibilities such as children or mortgages. Likewise, if you have typically not been too involved in finances, you will need to be prepared to take this responsibility on in your individual capacity going forward.
- Avoid the Payment of ‘Alimony’
When it comes to paying tax, alimony is considered to be income. To avoid paying tax on this amount, you should discuss this with your spouse and, if possible, arrange to avoid the term ‘alimony’ in your legal paperwork. If your final decree of divorce does not include the word ‘alimony’ you will not have to pay tax on this amount. Dealing with alimony in this way has become increasingly common when people file their divorce papers and reach a settlement.
- Avoid New Debt
It may be tempting to splurge on new items such as cars, bikes and other luxuries. Keep in mind that your divorce may have a lot of additional expenses that you did not initially anticipate. While you may feel you can justify a relatively affordable or inexpensive purchase, it is advisable to refrain from unnecessary expenses. Ensure that you keep unnecessary spending to a minimum so as to safeguard yourself should you encounter large divorce-related expenses down the line. Keep in mind that you will not be splitting all of your bills as you transition to paying for all of your own bills as opposed to splitting them with your spouse. This process is considerably more costly than you may anticipate so keep the new debt and splurging to a minimum.
- DIY Divorce
One of the most common ways in which to save money is to Do-It-Yourself. Many states have extensive information and guidelines on their county websites on exactly how to download divorce documents and apply for an online divorce. Divorce over the internet may seem like a foreign concept but this is becoming an increasingly popular way to have a cheap divorce. You will be able to download the necessary divorce papers you need and follow online guidelines on how they should be filled out and filed with the county court. You can make use of free attorney consultations and find a significant amount of information online pertaining to how to execute your own divorce. What is important to note is that filing for your own divorce and doing it all yourself may not be the best option if you. You can also use the help of specific companies that can even handle the filing.
- Protect Your Valuable Possessions
Should you and your spouse not be on good terms, it is important to consider the unfortunate possibility that they may attempt to dispose of any valuable items or possessions you may have before they can become part of your divorce agreement. Should it become clear that your marriage will be heading for divorce, ensure that you safeguard and possibly remove the most valuable items from your family home, specifically in a case where your spouse may be harboring hurt or ill feelings. This may seem like a trivial or childish move but could save you hundreds of dollars if you can safeguard possessions that could be disposed of out of spite.
- Compromise With Your Spouse
When filing for divorce, your relationship with your spouse may be under considerable pressure. The idea of compromising with them and taking their point of view into consideration may feel like the last option you want to take. That being said, being able to amicably handle your divorce with your spouse through compromise will undoubtedly save you time, money and a considerable amount of stress. If you are able to communicate with each other through this unpleasant process, it will result in both of you being both financially and emotionally better off.
Divorce can be an extremely stressful and emotionally draining process that can lead you to make decisions you may not typically have made otherwise, especially when it comes to your finances. If you have taken careful and proactive steps to make the process as cost-effective and affordable as possible, you will be placing yourself in the best possible position to handle all the other elements of divorce more rationally. We hope that our top 12 tips on how to best save money during the divorce process will help you achieve not only reducing costs but also give you peace of mind.
Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.