The process of divorce is expensive. According to Lawyers.com, a survey indicated that the average cost of divorce in Ohio is $12,500—including $9,000 in attorneys fees alone. The remainder of the costs generally covers administrative, filing, and expert fees.
The cost of divorce can increase further depending on the circumstances. For example, divorces that have CC or complex finances incur more expenses.
Despite this, there are ways to reverse this trajectory. By following these simple steps, it is possible to keep divorce costs down.
1. Be Organized
You will save money by coming prepared to meetings. Regardless of which professional you are meeting with, it is important to have the following information readily available to avoid sorting through paperwork in the office or having someone do it for you:
- Income information: W2s & pay statements;
- List of everything you own and owe with balances or values; and
- Supportive financial documentation.
2. Attend Scheduled Meetings
Instances come up that require a shift in our calendars; however, it is important to only miss a scheduled meeting if something else is truly unavoidable. Cancellations require professionals to revisit your file again near the date of the rescheduled meeting—making them prepare more than once for a meeting (additional cost!).
3. Keep an Open Mind
It is not uncommon for individuals to become entrenched in a particular position, unable to see other avenues that achieve the same goal. Take the time to think more deeply about what is important. For example, if the house is the sticking point, you can ask yourself, “Is it the house? Or is it the safety or status quo that it represents?” By doing so, more efficient discussions can ensue.
4. Reduce Stress
When stressed, our “fight, flight, or freeze” response is activated and negatively affects our ability to focus on the task(s) at hand. Stress makes it challenging to make decisions—ambivalence and the inability to reach agreements prolong the divorce process (adding expense!).
5. Work with the Right Professionals
There are various professionals available to help with all aspects of the divorce process. Typically, these trained and experienced professionals have lower hourly costs than a divorce attorney. While it may be helpful to vent emotions and concerns to your attorney, it is important to consider the advantages of another type of professional that may be more suitable and cost-effective. Note: Your attorney should always be used for any type of legal advice.
6. Consider Other Costs of Divorce
Invariably, there will be costs to divorce other than those paid to attorneys, counselors, etc. Divorce results in two households with two of everything, including:
- Vehicles (often used to attend child-related events, athletic games, school functions); or
- Insurance premiums (which may be higher due to a change in marital status and loss of discount for bundling).
Private health insurance is costly and is likely needed by the non-employed spouse. Lastly, divorce-related therapy for the children, or the parties to the divorce, will continue to be a considerable monetary factor.
Certainly, there are fixed costs in a divorce process. However, it is within your power to exert control over these costs.
Have you had success in keeping costs down during divorce? If so, what technique did you use? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan A. Moussi, CPA, CFP®, CDFA
SMD Tax & Divorce Financial Planning Consultants, Inc.