The Divorce Process: 5 Tips To Save Your Money & Sanity
The average wedding in the US costs $25,576.
The average divorce costs $12,000-$25,000, but is a lot less fun and joyous.
The wedding costs are made up for with gifts from guests and the fact that you are having fun... and you're in love.
Divorce costs are sucked up in legal fees - mostly.
The Divorce Process Money Saving Tips
1. Do your best to work out all the details as amicably as possible with your spouse.
This of course assumes that both of you can wrangle in your emotions to do what's best for each other and your kids, honestly.
No one can be hiding money or assets in this situation (If they are, you may need to step it up to a lawyer and the courts).
But you and your spouse can work out as much of the details as possible on your own or through a mediator.
You can do a lawyer-look-over if you choose or have the mediator move the paperwork through the system.
2. Make your first calls to a divorce mediator and financial adviser.
Divorce mediation can be the cheapest divorce process, coming in on average between $6,000-7,000.
While it's not as cheap as DIY where you get your paperwork for $140, mediators have been through the process and so can make suggestions and help you and your ex work through the who and what.
Once you get lawyers involved, although some lawyers are mediators, your next cheapest bet is collaborative divorce, which can run from $12,000-20,000.
Divorce litigation, where you use lawyers for everything, starts near $25,000 and goes up from there.
Notice that the average divorce falls between collaborative and litigation.
It seems that most people don't even realize they can call a mediator first.
The divorce financial adviser can walk you through longer term repercussions of decisions like keeping the house, cashing in IRA's, dividing retirement assets, setting budgets....
Getting your finances straight is imperative to a strong and happy future. Especially when you understand that after divorce, on average women experience a drop in their financial lifestyle after divorce.
After divorce, men go up - financially.
Women, go down.
3. Think through your budget, realistically - and negotiate firmly, yet reasonably.
Easier said than done, I know - because I did not do this step.
Collect receipts for a month to see where you spend every penny, if you have to.
But you must understand where your budget is going and make a plan to plug holes and bring in more cash (if that is possible).
The reason this helps you save money is because - at least for me and other women I know - once you're in the heat of divorce and the money is not coming in like it used to because now you're down to one earner (or no earners if you were staying at home with the kids), you start to panic.
And panic makes you do stupid things - that usually cost more money.
So get a handle on your budget early on - even before you've announced your intentions to divorce, if you haven't already.
4. Get yee to therapy - group, church based, private - whatever you can afford.
If you are going to keep your divorce costs as low as possible, you've got to manage your emotions.
Divorce gets costly because of errors of emotion and ignorance.
You get emotional and you - stir up conflict, or call your attorney (and waste billable hours which they are mostly happy to oblige), you talk to your friends and they warn you that you are getting screwed and offer up their attorney or their friends attorney....
All of these things stoke the fires of discord.
And conflict costs.
If you have a lawyer, conflict costs you $200-500/hour. And it costs your ex $200-500/hour.
This is how family's can bleed away their home and other assets in the divorce process.
Now I'm not saying that you should not fight for what is right and achievable. And I do recommend taking a couple of free consults with divorce lawyers just to learn what their suggestions and approach would be.
But, if you and your STBX can agree and get through the divorce process somewhat smoothly, you'll save yourself thousands of dollars.
Now on the other hand though, which is why I say to talk to a couple divorce lawyers, especially if you have kids and assets, or if you believe your ex is hiding income, if you need to get a little dirty getting what you need - well go for it.
I did - but it did cost me and my son - a lot.
5. Get educated on the divorce process - cheaply (in free consults, through books, online....)
My Top Three Go To Books on Divorce
Unless you've been through the divorce process before, you don't know what you don't know. And it sucks to use your lawyer as your teacher (Hello super expensive teacher) or worse, agree to things that bite you in the ass years later.
Did you know that if you're married 10 years you can collect on your spouses social security, even if they've remarried?!?!
Hmm, if you're at year 9, kind of makes you think about your timing doesn't it?
Read books, blogs, attend events - of course within reason because if you're facing divorce and a new single parent life your schedule is most likely SUPER TIGHT.
But you need to do some learning to secure your and your family's new futures.
That's why we're hosting The Divorce Summit - you can claim your free ticket here.