1. Do your research
Historically, divorce has been a process that has been extremely costly, involved high powered attorneys and a lot of conflict between spouses. As divorce rates have increased in the USA, so have the number of options on how to go about concluding a divorce from hiring a mediator to applying for a divorce over the internet. You and your spouse can save a lot of time and money by doing your own research online as to what the process involves, the divorce documents you will need, and how to apply for and file your divorce papers. This should be the first step you take when considering applying for divorce.
2. Look into getting a mediator
Depending on the nature of the relationship between you and your spouse, getting an attorney is not your only option to reach a civil conclusion whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. A more affordable option is to incite the help of a mediator who can facilitate discussions and help you reach conclusions on contentious elements of the divorce. When searching for a mediator, they should at the very least have a social work or psychology degree and be familiar with the divorce laws of the state you live in. While a mediator cannot make decisions on your behalf, they can assist in facilitating discussions that lead to conclusions both spouses are happy with.
3. Consult with an Attorney
One way to save on the cost of divorce, as well as unnecessary hassle, is to consult with an attorney before you even file for a divorce. Even if you intend to file for divorce without an attorney, this initial consultation can be free of charge but save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. An attorney, who deals with divorces every day, will be able to view your case briefly and provide helpful advice from the outset and run through divorce forms as a preliminary step.
4. Know What Your Spouse Earns Annually
One of the matters to be discussed during your divorce is that of money and support to be paid once the divorce is final. Knowing what your spouse earns will give you an indication before filing for divorce, what they can afford to contribute towards alimony. This may not be an easy subject to mention with your spouse before the divorce, but it will certainly help you prepare for the divorce process.
5. Assess How You Will Earn Post Divorce
Depending on your career and personal circumstances, getting a divorce may require that you seek employment. If you have been out of the job market for some time, you may need to start upskilling yourself and working on your resume leading up the divorce.
6. Understand Your Family’s Overall Financial Standing
In order to negotiate a divorce settlement, you will be required to share all of the assets and finances you are aware of. It is important to be sure you are aware of exactly every penny and investment account this includes. A good step would be to get on top of all this information prior to filing for a divorce to avoid anything being left out.
7. Assess Your Family’s Debt
Assessing and having a full picture of your family’s debts is often no small feat. Start slowly collecting this information prior to filing for divorce may save you time and money in the long run. If you would like to do so without the knowledge of your spouse, you could contact the IRS or your family accountant for your most recent tax return which will provide this information.
8. Get Copies of Your Family’s Financial Records
It takes a considerable amount of time to collect all copies of financial records which you may need in order to separate all your finances. These financial records could include bank accounts, insurance policies or investment accounts. While you may not ever need all this documentation, having this information at hand before you begin to file for divorce can save you a lot of hassles down the line.
9. Make a Written Record of Your Family’s Assets
When it comes to family assets, you could get a head start by taking photos and making an inventory of all valuables including property, furniture, and jewelry. While not every piece of furniture and jewelry needs to be accounted for, it would be worth your while to document anything the family owns over the value of $300.
10. Get a Grip on a Realistic Household Budget
Depending on how you and your spouse have managed finances, you may already have a decent handle on what it currently costs to run your household. A good step to take, prior to filing for divorce, is to create a budget of what it would cost you to live individually. You should include all living expenses including rent, childcare, and insurances. If you currently pay your family’s bills, this may be an easy task. If not, it may involve some research to understand exactly what your bills are.
11. Consider Where You Would Live
Take some time to consider where you and your spouse may live after the divorce. If you aren’t able to stay in the marital home after the divorce, you will need to consider what you can afford and how this might affect your lifestyle. Do research on real estate websites to get an idea of your options are. Include in your research the cost of moving and how this can be included in your divorce settlement.
12. Save! Save! Save!
While you can take every step to minimize the cost of divorce and keep it as cheap as possible, the overall process may still present unexpected costs. Web divorce or online divorce is a common option in saving money, but regardless of the route you take, save as much money as you can leading up to the divorce. This will leave you with more options following the divorce and give you financial peace of mind.
13. Open Your Own Bank Accounts
If you don’t have your own bank accounts and credit record, consider getting your own accounts if you are considering divorce. Once your divorce is final, and assuming you only previously had joint bank accounts, you may be starting from scratch in building your credit record. If you and your spouse are starting to consider divorce, open up your own bank accounts immediately to start building up your own credit record.
14. Address Mutual Bank Accounts
As you open up your own bank accounts, take this opportunity to also close any mutual bank accounts you may have with your spouse. In the event that your divorce is not as amicable as you had hoped, having mutual bank accounts can leave you financially vulnerable. If at all possible, address these accounts with your spouse prior to filing for divorce.
15. Avoid Big Unnecessary Purchases
When you make the transition from one household into two, your costs as two households will increase and undoubtedly impact you financially. Stats show a staggering number of people who purchase expensive cars and other luxuries just before they institute divorce proceedings. Avoid this at all costs in order to allow yourself as much financial leeway as possible.
16. Consider How to Tell Your Spouse
If you have been considering divorce without being in communication with your spouse, taking the step to verbalize how you feel and your intentions may take your spouse by surprise. Be ready for a wave of emotions and possibly frustration and anger if your spouse is completely unsuspecting. If you are afraid, this may be too much for your spouse to handle, consider the fact that you may need to seek professional help on the best way to approach the conversation. While there are few ways to lessen the rejection and hurt your spouse may feel, a psychologist may be able to provide you with a strategy on how to best go about it.
17. Consider How to Tell Your Children
The final thing to consider before filing for a divorce is how to approach telling your children. You will need to consider whether it may be best to tell your children individually or together and whether it may be best for you to discuss it with them alone or to do it together with your spouse. It goes without saying that many children can feel to blame or extremely upset by the breakup of the family unit. This is one part of the divorce where you may need to consult professional help. In dealing with these situations on a constant basis, a therapist or child psychologist will be able to give you invaluable insight into how best to handle this with your children.