Divorce can be difficult and financial worries often burden already overwhelmed families. Often folks ask how to save money and keep afloat financially during the process. This can be difficult at times, especially if one spouse moves out, the household expenses will typically increase, not decrease. During divorce mediation, we have a conversation about income and expenses and how to divorce with financial peace. Here are a few helpful tips we discuss to save money on your divorce:
Stay out of court!
The cheapest way to divorce is to avoid the court room! Litigating your divorce in court can possibly end in bankruptcy or financial ruin for both you and your spouse. Consider using a qualified mediator to empower you to make decisions for you and your family. Mediation fees are typically much less expensive compared to litigation fees during the divorce or custody process. Your chances of a quick, inexpensive and amicable divorce significantly increase by simply staying out of the court room.
Ask for an estimate
At the initial divorce consultation, ask for an estimate of the fees and whether you will need to pay a large retainer upfront. A retainer is a lump sum, advance payment to your attorney to begin your case, and can be in the $2000 – $5000 or more range. If cash flow is an issue, consider asking whether your attorney offers “unbundled” legal services. Unbundling may help your cash flow because you only pay for the services you actually use or need, essentially you will pay for your services as you go. As a mediator, I find that unbundling my services helps families move forward without the financial stress of large upfront payments.
Know your finances
Gather and organize your financial statements and prepare a budget worksheet on your own. By becoming better aware of your financial situation, rather than asking your lawyer to prepare these documents for you, will save you precious time and money. If you are using a mediator, making copies and sharing these documents with your spouse ahead of time will also help save you time and money during the process.
Hire your own professionals
You and your spouse may need to hire other professionals such as accountants, certified divorce financial planners, appraisers, real estate agents and therapists. Using professionals to assist in business valuations, valuing personal assets, investments, retirement accounts, homes, and taxes can be helpful but are not always necessary during a divorce. Agreeing on whether to hire these experts with your spouse and agreeing to share in these expenses can save your family time and money.
When preparing for a mediation or meeting, organizing your thoughts will save you time and money. Write a list of your questions and the important matters that you wish to discuss. Staying focused and prepared will help you make decisions and find solutions efficiently. Gather and organize your paperwork and documents in a special folder, and make the necessary copies, so that you are prepared to provide the information when asked in a timely manner.
You and your spouse have previously had to communicate during your marriage and make important decisions. During the divorce process it can be helpful to continue to talk to your spouse about the big decisions for your family. When divorcing you will need to make decisions about your children and pets and how to divide your assets and debts. Try to find common ground and discuss the most effective way to distribute the cars, homes, pets and bank accounts. This may seem like common sense, but the more you and your spouse talk and communicate with each other directly instead of through lawyers the less expensive your divorce will be!
If you would like more information about a healthy divorce, contact Dawn Clement at Dawn@ClementMediation.com for more information or to set up a consultation.
Attorney & Mediator