A cheap divorce sounds like an oxymoron but with these 3 tips you can save yourself time and resources from filing to settlement.
- Understand the various ways you can get a divorce in your state and which route is the most appropriate for you and your spouse.
In many cases you have five options. The cheapest is a DIY divorce, although it is the cheapest it can come with the highest risk for error. Some couples that attempt a DIY divorce find themselves paying more money in the future to fix what was not done properly in the beginning. There is an online option that provides a turbo tax like experience. A third option is to hire a mediator (preferably one that specializes in divorce) to help the couple negotiate the terms of their settlement. Going direct to the mediator, even if you have consulting attorneys, can and will in many cases save money in the long run. The most common option, and often the most expensive, is a litigated route. This option typically has both parties hiring their own attorney and any additional experts. A litigated route is most expensive when the couple is unwilling to work together to come to an agreement and are forced to “fight it out” in a court setting. The fifth and final option is a collaborative divorce. The collaborative process requires the couple to build a team that works together with them to come to a settlement. The team typically consists of each party having an attorney, a mental health professional, and a financial expert. The collaborative process is beneficial for a couple that wants to keep their divorce private. The options outlined above come with varying costs, so it is important to understand them and choose the option that best fits the couple’s situation.
- Limit the fighting!
It is in the couple’s best interest to reach a settlement with as little drama as possible. The more fighting, bullying, and digging in of heels only ends up costing more money, time and damage to the overall family unit. I encourage my clients to choose their battles and remain as professional as possible with their spouse throughout the process. Only the attorney’s win in cases where the couple does not work together.
- Picking the right team from the start.
The best way to combat all the moving parts in a divorce is to hire a full team. I encourage my clients to, at a minimum, include a family law attorney, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®, and a family therapist. With this team you hit the legal, financial and emotional areas of divorce. All too often attorneys are put in the position of wearing all three hats, legal, financial and emotional support, that in many cases they have no business wearing. Of those three professionals the attorneys are also the ones that often have the highest per hour rate. It seems counterintuitive that you should hire more people to save money but the fact is that if you hire the right professionals for their lane of expertise, you will save money initially and in the long run. The other side of that is choosing the right individuals to fill those roles. You want to find a professional you trust and work well with to help guide you through the process. If you do not trust your team you will never feel confident to take their advice which will cause more stress, time and money.
The above are the three areas in which I believe couples can save themselves money in divorce, choose the right route, work together to get to a settlement, and have a complete divorce team.
Contact Next Step Divorce Solutions to learn how we can assist you in your divorce.
Author – Tessa Elrod CFP®, CDFA®