It's no secret that divorce is expensive. The average contested divorce in the US costs around $15,000, enough to make a dent in anyone's bank account. If you share children with your partner or either party owns valuable assets, that cost may only increase.
Why spend all that money on divorce, when it could be better spent elsewhere? Understanding the common costs associated with divorce enables you to make better spending decisions, reducing the cost of the divorce process. In turn, you can use those savings to springboard into a happier, healthier life post-divorce.
How Can I Make My Divorce Cheaper?
As a rule of thumb, the more you can compromise with your spouse on the terms of your divorce, the cheaper it will be.
For example, filing for an uncontested divorce (where you and your spouse agree on all terms for the divorce) is typically significantly cheaper than filing for a contested divorce (where you and your spouse disagree on one or more terms for the divorce).
You should discuss the following divorce-related processes with your spouse:
- Property division,
- Child support,
- Child custody, and
These are usually the most contentious parts of any divorce, and disagreeing with your partner on how to handle these processes usually means significantly extending how long your divorce takes.
For example, let's say you agree with your partner on how to handle child custody. You can simply draft a joint parenting plan with your co-parent laying out the terms for your child custody arrangement that you’ve both agreed to. As long as the judge approves the parenting plan, finalizing your custody dispute will take very little time and money.
Alternatively, if you disagree with your partner on custody, you may have to attend a lengthy court battle, paying for experts and court fees along the way.
Compromising with your partner on various divorce-related processes such as custody can mean saving thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars on your divorce, depending on your circumstances.
As you move forward with your divorce, speak with your lawyer about utilizing a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as collaborative law. Your lawyer can help you negotiate with your spouse, protecting your rights while simultaneously enabling you to reach a mutually beneficial outcome with your soon-to-be-ex.
In addition to working with your ex, knowing about common divorce expenses can help you budget for your divorce more effectively. Knowing what to expect from your divorce financially gives you more time to find the most cost-effective ways to tackle expenses, leaving you with more money when all's said and done. Without further ado, let's explore some expenses you should prepare for as you move through your divorce.
Breaking Legal Contracts Can be Surprisingly Expensive
Most of us are engaged in dozens of legal contracts we never think about. You know that user agreement you blindly scroll through every time you download a new app on your phone? Case in point.
As you move forward with your divorce, you'll probably need to renegotiate terms for any legal contracts you share with your spouse. For example, you'll need to each get a separate phone plan. The same thing goes for insurance.
Often, couples get breaks on contracts like insurance and phone policies since they can buy into a family plan. Renegotiating the terms for those contracts or removing yourself from one before the renewal date can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on how many contracts you share with your soon-to-be-ex.
Make a list of every contract you share with your spouse. Figure out how much it costs to renegotiate or end them, and then get to work. Companies will frequently give you better offers if you refuse their first proposal or ask for a different plan. The more you plan in advance, the more time you have to negotiate a new deal with your service provider or save money with a sale for a new one.
Think About the Basic Necessities
Most people know that getting a new apartment, home, or vehicle post-divorce can be expensive. But what about all the little things you'll need in addition to those big items? You may need new silverware, new housecare tools, a new washer or dryer—the list goes on.
Make a list of every basic necessity you don't currently have, but will need in the future. If you have children, that may include new toys for them or other devices (video game consoles, a computer at your place for schoolwork, etc.). Having a list as you move through your divorce can help you know what to look for and wait for sales so you can get the items you need at premium prices.
Figure Out Whether You have to Refinance Loans
It's not uncommon for couples to get big-ticket items, like a car, together. If only one of you is on the title for something like a vehicle, you may have to refinance the loan for that expense.
Refinancing loans can increase how long it takes to pay off something like a vehicle and drive up monthly payments. It can also affect how banks deal with loans in the future, increasing insurance rates or downpayments for future expenses.
Understanding whether you need to refinance any loans you have enables you to negotiate with the loan holder for a better deal. Speaking with a financial professional like a certified public accountant (CPA) about liabilities such as loans can help you get on the right track. Additionally, they may be able to give you other information that comes in handy during the property division process.
At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we can help you find the best path forward in your divorce.