Let’s face it. Divorce is expensive. Not only do you have to pay court costs and legal fees, but you are also likely to be racking up therapy bills too. Add that to the cost of establishing a second household, plus all of the hidden costs of divorce (moving, selling your home, taxes, separate health insurance etc.) and it’s not hard to understand why so many people wonder how to get a divorce without becoming a financial train wreck.
If the very thought of how much money you are going to burn through during your divorce makes you want to throw up all over yourself, take heart. While your divorce may not be cheap, it doesn’t have to be so expensive that it propels you into bankruptcy either.
The key to getting through your divorce without spending every last penny you have and then some, can be summed up in a single word: management.
Managing Yourself in the Divorce Process
The first, and most important thing, that you absolutely must manage if you want to keep your divorce costs under control is: YOU!
Yes, I know that managing your emotions when your entire life has been turned upside down and is spinning out of control seems impossibly hard. You’re angry, you’re upset, you feel betrayed, and you are exhausted. Not only does managing your emotions seem impossible, but you’re not sure you even want try!
The key here is to understand that there is a huge difference between managing your emotions and pretending that they don’t exist.
When you try to push your emotions down instead of feeling them, they usually burst out of you when you least expect it. For example, if you find yourself blowing up your divorce settlement over who gets the wedding china (that you always hated anyway), chances are you are dealing with more than just the china.
Denied emotions increase the craziness – and therefore the cost – of your divorce. They often end up sabotaging you in ways you can never imagine.
So how do you manage your emotions in divorce? You start by recognizing that you are going to be emotional and giving yourself a break. You are not a robot.
The pain of divorce is worse than almost any other pain on the planet. Allow yourself to feel your pain, and feel your emotions. Sure, it sucks. Of course you would rather not feel all these ugly feelings. But until you allow yourself to feel bad, and deal with those feelings, you are never going to be able to feel really good.
Next, understand that there is a time and a place for expressing your emotions. Screaming, sobbing, and pounding the pillow in your living room is okay. Melting down in the middle of a court appearance is not.
Finally, no matter what it costs, get yourself a good therapist or a divorce coach. The amount you spend on getting some support right now will pale in comparison to the amount you will spend if you try to go through your divorce while you are an emotional basket case.
Managing Your Spouse in the Divorce Process
It’s no secret that fighting with your spouse increases the cost of your divorce exponentially. So, if you want to keep your divorce costs low, you not only have to manage yourself in the divorce process, but you have to manage your spouse as well.
Notice, I said you have to “manage” your spouse. I didn’t say you have to “control” your spouse. That’s because you really can’t control your spouse. The more you try, the uglier and more expensive your case is likely to become.
Managing your spouse means doing what you can to try to decrease the drama and bring out the best in your spouse, not the worst. (Yes, you read that right!)
Even though right now you could probably care less about whether you are bringing out the best in your spouse, if doing that means saving you time, money, and a lot of heartache, then doing it makes sense.
It may be counterintuitive, but you are much more likely to settle your case peacefully (and inexpensively) if you and your spouse are both at your best, rather than if you are both at your worst.
In short, “managing your spouse” really means, managing yourself.
Managing the Divorce Process
Managing your divorce process means two things: Managing the way you get divorced, and managing the professionals who help you through your divorce.
There are many ways to go through a divorce today. You can use litigation, mediation, arbitration, collaborative divorce, or cooperative divorce. You can hire a lawyer to represent you, hire a lawyer just to consult with you, or to draft your documents, or you can do your divorce yourself.
Each divorce process operates a little bit differently, but all of them are going to require similar things.
You are going to have to gather and organize your financial information. You are going to have to make a plan for your kids. You are going to have to decide about who pays support for the kids (and maybe for the other spouse), as well as how much is paid and for how long. Finally, you are going to have to divide your stuff and divide your debts. That’s it.
While this is, of course, a gross oversimplification of divorce, these are the basic things that you are going to have to do to get through your divorce. Knowing that allows you to figure out a lot of things that you can do yourself to save time and money.
Since you know that you are going to need to gather and organize financial information before you can get through your divorce, you have a choice. You can do it yourself in advance (or as early as possible) and save money. Or you can let your lawyer do it and charge you $350+ per hour for the privilege.
Since you know you are going to need a parenting plan for the kids, you can either work with your spouse, and possibly a mediator, to figure out what is best for your kids and make your own plan, or you can pay your lawyers to fight about it. Then you can have a judge, who doesn’t know you and has never met your kids, decide what is best for your kids and make a plan you probably won’t like.
Since you know that you are going to have to separate households and divide all of your stuff, you can either drag your feet and pretend it’s not going to happen, or you can force yourself to make a list of what you have and what you owe and start figuring out how to divide it up.
The long and short of all of this is that the more work you do in your divorce yourself (even though you may hate it!), the more money you will save. The more you and your spouse can agree on things, the less you will fight, and the cheaper and easier your divorce process will be.
Managing your divorce professionals requires you to remember that this is YOUR life. You need to make sure that your divorce professionals are on the same page with you, and are moving in the direction you want.
If your lawyer is causing a fight you don’t want and ringing up bills the size of the national debt, it’s time to have a little “Come to Jesus” talk with your lawyer. Either you may need your lawyer to try a different approach in your case, or you may need a different lawyer.
If your mediator never has time to meet and is causing your case to drag on, then you need to address your concerns with your mediator. If any of your divorce professionals are acting in a way that is needlessly upping the drama in your divorce for no reason, you need to talk to that person and get them back on the same page with you.
The bottom line is that, if you want to get divorced a efficiently and inexpensively as possible, you need to do your best to manage the process and the people involved.
How to Get a Divorce Without Breaking the Bank
No matter how hard you try, your divorce is going to take longer and cost more than you want. Unfortunately, that’s just the way divorce works.
Yet, if you can find a way to manage yourself, manage your spouse, and manage the process, even just a little bit, you will likely spend far less on your divorce than you would have if you stumbled through it blindly and just hoped for the best.
Saving money in your divorce is easier if you know what to expect and what to look for. Click the button below to get your FREE Divorce Checklist, and make sure you don’t miss a thing.