How To Keep Your Divorce Affordable
How To Keep Divorce Costs Manageable
With divorce costs in New Jersey and elsewhere averaging between $15,000 and $20,000, and with a higher-conflict divorce possibly costing more than $100,000, keeping the costs of divorce manageable might be a concern for both you and your spouse. Additionally, there are some related expenses that people tend to overlook when they think of the total cost. However, you have options that can help you keep your divorce affordable, especially if both spouses are on the same page about this being a priority.
Why Can a Divorce Become Very Expensive?
The costs of divorce can rise much higher if you it is contested. Your divorce lawyer fees can also add up, considering that the hourly fee for an attorney can go into the hundreds, and this can continue to rise when your divorce team includes other such professionals as financial experts and therapists, a necessity if you have many assets to divide. Additionally, a court battle can become lengthy and complex, lasting years, and custody disputes can contribute to this. If you have moved to another state since the separation, you can add other expenses, such as constant travel expenses to deal with the divorce issues. Additionally, divorce costs can also increase if you do not understand the tax consequences of the decisions you make during the process, which might result in costing you financially — even years after the divorce.
The Emotional Impact of Divorce
Emotions can also play an indirect role in the cost of a divorce. A breakup triggers many that can hinder your decision-making process. You might experience grief for the loss of your relationship, anger and disappointment at your spouse for their role in the situation, fear of the future unknowns, anxiety over all the decisions you need to make and worry over the impact of the divorce on your children. These emotions tend to be intense and constant, and you might experience many of these emotions at the same time. This might make it challenging to make logical decisions, regarding the end of your marriage, that are in your best interest. For example, you might think that you want a court battle to ensure you win the divorce. However, the costs might result in both of you losing financially.
The Forgotten Costs of Moving On
Once you know the marriage is over and you will be pursuing a divorce, you and your spouse might decide that living apart even during the separation is the best course of action. However, while this might help ease the tensions between you and your spouse, it does add another layer to the divorce costs. Where once you had to support one household together, you will now have two households to support on the same amount of income. This often-forgotten divorce expense can add up, as you will be paying twice for everything — rent or mortgage, utilities and other services, food and any additional expenses related to the household — while still trying to figure out how to divide your assets and make a realistic budget for the future. In some cases, one of you might be struggling to even cover basic costs, particularly if that person had been a homemaker and had sacrificed their career for the marriage.
Options for Managing Divorce Costs
Keeping the costs of the divorce manageable will benefit both you and your spouse. Depending on your situation and your relationship, you have options that might help you avoid a lengthy and expensive court battle. In the end, the more that you and your spouse are willing to work out between you, albeit with your divorce lawyer’s guidance, the more you can work toward an affordable divorce. Some of your options for keeping your costs manageable include:
- Using a document service, if you and your spouse have an amicable relationship and relatively few assets and debts to divide
- Going through mediation, if both of you are committed to resolving the divorce issues together
- Choosing a collaborative divorce, if you have a divorce that includes complex asset division
Document Preparation Service Divorce
A document preparation service is a low-cost option for couples who believe that they can resolve their issues rather easily and who do not have a complex divorce in mind. The service fills out the court forms and files them for you. If the divorce is uncontested, you can bring your spouse the papers to sign. If the divorce is contested, the papers must be served to your spouse by someone else. It is a good idea, of course, to have your lawyer review the papers before filing and signing.
Another option for keeping costs affordable is mediation. During this type of alternative dispute resolution, the spouses work with a neutral third party to resolve their issues and draft a divorce agreement to present to the judge for approval. The spouses do not need to visit the court during the process, which can be significantly shorter and less expensive than a traditional court divorce. This option allows couples to keep control over their decisions and information since they are the ones who will achieve the solutions that work best for their family, and their meetings with their mediator are done in privacy. With mediation, each spouse can also have their lawyers guiding them and offering legal advice, though the negotiations are done between the spouses. Mediators do not make decisions for the couple; instead, they offer guidance and encouragement on how to resolve the issues.
The collaborative divorce process is another alternative conflict resolution method that can help you save money on your divorce. While it is more expensive than the document service and the mediation processes, it can still cost significantly less than a court battle. In a collaborative divorce, both parties and their lawyers sign an agreement not to seek litigation. Instead, they negotiate, seeking solutions to their issues. If either party breaks the agreement, they must retain new lawyers. Each person can have a divorce team to assist them, which can include financial professionals, divorce coaches and child and mental health therapists. Both spouses must be committed for the process to work, but it can lead to results in less time and, therefore, more manageable costs. Like mediation, the collaborative process provides discretion and control over your issues.
The divorce process can drain your finances if you are not careful about how you approach it. Your hard-earned money should go toward important things, such as your retirement or your children’s college funds. If you want to learn more about your options for making your divorce more affordable, you can call the Law Office of Kelly Berton Rocco at 201-343-0078 to schedule a consultation at our Hackensack office. You can also contact us via our website form. Let us help you find the solutions you need so you can start your new post-divorce life while still protecting your finances.