10 Smart Ways to Minimize the Cost of Your Divorce
Uncontested Divorce Mediation
Posted December 13, 2021
How much does a divorce cost? Some ex-spouses can take care of the entire procedure for less than $5,000 while others have found themselves astounded at a bill of over $100,000. What’s the difference? What did the first couple do right or the second couple do wrong to create such an enormous cost difference between divorces? While the number of assets and divorce-term complexity can contribute to your final cost, the real difference is whether you approach your divorce in a smart way that saves money or an emotional way that spends money.
We know that most Illinois couples would rather have those thousands to split as assets instead of draining the funds into a costly divorce. So we’re here to share the top ten smart ways to minimize your divorce costs while still getting the quality and detailed divorce process that you need.
Avoid Court and Trial Divorce
It is a practical fact that the costliest divorces are those taken to the court room. Two lawyers worth of attorney fees, court fees, and constant document filing fees will quickly drain your divorce funds. The more a couple wants to fight, the more billable hours they work with their lawyers. This is how a modest divorce can start moving toward the $100,000 range.
If you want to keep your divorce costs low and maintain control of the final terms, then keep your divorce out of the courts. Do not opt for a trial divorce and don’t let a lawyer talk you into one. Trial divorces are usually only truly necessary when one spouse is engaged in criminal behavior that must be curbed by the courts and the other spouse protected.
Set Realistic Goals
Few people get everything they want out of a divorce. Those that are fully satisfied have accurately assessed their assets and have set realistic expectations. For example, these days very few spouses are granted alimony payments, now called spousal support. Alimony or palimony is reserved for those who really can’t work and support themselves. When it is granted, usually it is temporary until the supported spouse can finish school or job training.
Expect to get about 50% of assets. It’s also unlikely that any emotional scores can be evened with the divorce terms, so a practical approach is your best possible choice.
Get Your Finances and Paperwork Ready
Lawyers and divorce consultants tend to bill by the hour. That means the more hours of help you need, the more costly your divorce will be. Fortunately, you can reverse that logic to save yourself a significant amount. Instead of asking a lawyer to guide you through arranging your finances and personal documents, take care of that on your own.
Online divorce guides can tell you which documents to gather. You may also seek a consultation from your bank or financial advisor as you prepare your finances for divorce. Being together and ready for the legal process allows you to spend the least possible time, thus money, on completing your divorce.
Assess Value without Appraisals
When spouses bicker over the value of something, an appraisal is ordered. However, appraisals can be expensive and more than one can really stack up your divorce costs. In most cases, you can closely estimate the value of your assets using more affordable routes. The home’s previous sale price, along with the cost of any renovations can be used to estimate the value of your home. Kelly Blue Book can help you estimate the value of vehicles. Jewelers and Antiquers may be able to help you with other personal items of value.
Form Agreements With Your Spouse
The next thing you can do to save time, and thus money, is to agree with your ex. You need to spend your legal billable hours hammering out divorce terms into legal documents. You want to be talking to your legal consultant about how to correctly divide the retirement accounts and build a working custody schedule. But arguing and negotiating with your ex can soak up more hours than anyone would prefer.
If you and your ex can agree on terms, you might not even need two lawyers to draw up a mutually favorable divorce. The more you can agree on, the more time you save. For things you’re not ready to lock-down immediately, come in with questions and a willingness to agree.
We know that agreement with your ex can be difficult during divorce. Practical thinking is the best way to agree on practical terms.
Choose Mediation as Your Divorce Process
To be completed, a divorce must be processed through negotiations and legal professionals. The divorce terms must be defined and drawn up into legal documents, which are submitted to the court. But there are multiple processes that can achieve these steps.
Courtroom divorces and opposed litigation are notoriously expensive approaches to divorce. Each requires two lawyers, one per spouse, and hours of discussing terms and settling disagreements. If your spouse is practical and you can work together, you have the option to choose a more affordable divorce process.
Divorce mediation and arbitration allow you to share a divorce officiant and, together, only pay one legal professional for help drawing up and filing the documents. If your goal is to get the best split of post-divorce assets, saving your assets with a quick and practical divorce process will help you reach that goal.
Work With Jr Associates and Paralegals
If you do need to work with an individual legal professional either for advice or to draw up specific documents, don’t insist on a lawfirm partner. Talk to Jr. Associates and paralegals instead. Their time is not as expensive and they benefit from the experience as much as you benefit from the legal services. Unless you plan on a flashy courtroom divorce, you don’t need an expensive lawyer for personal consultations. Instead, seek out younger legal staff who can give you by-the-book advice and handle any legal processes that need to take place before your mediation.
Secure a Therapist or Sympathetic Friend
One of the biggest (and most costly) mistakes divorcees tend to make is talking to your lawyer like a therapist or bringing your emotional troubles to the negotiation table. Divorces are emotional, and you do need someone to talk to. Your divorce attorney or mediator may well be a sympathetic ear who fully understands your situation, but their time is money.
If you need someone to work out your feelings with, vent your frustrations, and even figure out what you want emotionally from divorce terms; don’t turn to a lawyer. Instead, secure that one friend you’ll talk to or even sign up short-term with a therapist. From there, get your head together to approach your lawyer or mediator with clear goals and unemotional practicality.
Simplify Your Asset-Splitting
When you’re splitting assets down the middle, it can be tempting to get complicated. Don’t get complicated. Whenever possible, let the assets fall to one side or the other. Each stay with your own retirement accounts, if they are roughly equal in value. Each keep the car you drive, your lawyer can help work out any title transfers. Separate your pre-marital items out of the pool, then avoid being petty about the value of anything worth less than $1000. Chances are, you’ll spend less replacing a few household items than you will fighting for them in the divorce.
Most importantly, avoid getting complicated about your assets. Getting appraisals and hiring accountants to split your finances will cost more than keeping it simple.
Prioritize Completing Your Divorce
Finally, keep the right mindset. If you want to spend the least amount of money separating from your spouse, don’t get side-tracked. Don’t get distracted by asset valuing, bringing up old grievances, or fighting over little details. When both exes are more determined to get finished than to keep fighting, negotiations will come more easily and your divorce terms will be finalized before you know it. Even better, that speed and efficiency equals savings for both of you.
Contact a Divorce Mediator in Denver Today
No one wants to overspend on their divorce. Those savings should be an investment in your new single life. Here at Split Simple, we’re dedicated to helping divorcing couples get the job done quickly, affordably, and with the best possible terms for everyone involved. Whether you’re splitting a few household assets or need to plan for custody, home sale, and family business; we have the divorce mediation services you need. Why overspend on your divorce when you can get started on the rest of your life?
1624 Market Street #202
Denver, CO 80202