Divorce Hacks for Saving Time and Money

Divorce Hacks for Saving Time and Money

Divorce is never an easy process. It makes you feel all sorts of emotions, it can cost a lot of money, its hard on children, and it can take up all of your time. That's why, every day, millions of people hit the internet searching for online resources for divorce tips to help simplify the process and make it more affordable.

With over 20 years of experience as a divorce mediator and former divorce attorney, I've witnessed countless cases where lack of knowledge led to unnecessary expenses, stress, and time-consuming legal proceedings.

So, whether you're just starting to think about divorce or you're already in the thick of it, buckle up. These tips are going to be helpful.

1. Choose Your Method

You only have three main choices when are getting divorced: mediation, litigation, and a do-it-yourself divorce.

  • MEDIATION. Mediation is the best option for most people. A good mediator can get you through sticky issues, stubbornness, and even some narcissism. In mediation, we start with a settlement mentality. There needs to be a willingness to compromise and an ability to be goal-directed (the goal being settlement, and not playing lawyer-type games). 

When is mediation not good? I do not recommend mediation in cases where either spouse suspects the other spouse might be hiding assets. I also do not recommend mediation in cases where there is a history of domestic violence.  However, there is a style of mediation where both spouses have an attorney at their side (that is not my style, but it is an option for you). With that type of mediation, you can sometimes mediate the more intense cases (hiding money, domestic abuse). 

  • LITIGATION. If you choose to lawyer-up and do things the old-fashioned way, you need to have a ton of money. Your attorney, in litigation, will need to do two jobs at once: helping you settle and keeping things moving with your court case. 

You Can Lose Control in Litigation = Very Expensive. Once paperwork gets filed in the Courthouse, your lawyer will need to make sure your case is moving at the required pace, set by the law and the judge, and cannot always slow things down once the litigation gets rolling. Also, your attorney will have very little control over your spouse’s attorney, who may be all about complicating things and running up fees!  

Your attorney can also help you settle your case, while you are litigating, but remember that you will be paying him or her, in that case, for doing two jobs (settling and litigating). 

  • DO-IT-YOURSELF DIVORCE. If you do not have kids, real estate, a business, retirement assets, and are not seeking spousal support (alimony), you might be able to do all of your divorce paperwork on your own. I would not recommend this in most cases, but if you meet the criteria I just listed, you might want to give it a try. I think that you should have some professional assistance with such an important part of your life, but take a look online at the various companies that provide divorce forms and see what you think 

2. Start Thinking about the Best Custody Arrangements

If you have children, it's important to start thinking about what type of custody arrangement you believe would be best for them. If you can talk with your spouse about this before you sit down to settle your case, that would be great. You do not have to agree on everything; but you will at least know how each other is viewing what is best for the kids.

50/50 custody is very common these days. If one parent wants 50/50, and the other parent is against that arrangement, the non-50/50 parent will need to be prepared to explain why he or she thinks that 50/50 will be damaging to the kids. Be as specific as possible. Otherwise, even if you do not live in a state that automatically grants 50/50 custody, judges love to order 50/50 custody even when one of the parents was hardly involved with the children before the divorce.

3. Understand Family Cash Flow – Income & Expenses

It’s important that you have a good understanding of what the cash flow in the family looks like. You need to know when and where the money comes from, and when and where it goes out. If you do not already track your expenses, now is good time to start.

If you will be asking for any type of financial support from the other spouse, that is more than the bare minimum of what a court would probably grant you (your mediator should be able to tell you that), you will need to be ready to demonstrate why you need that money.

4. Create A List of Your Assets and Debts 

Gather information about all your assets and debts. You will want to include the type of assets, how it is titled, when it was acquired (if you know), and what it is worth. You will want to do the same for your debts.

Assets include real estate, retirement assets, cars, savings accounts, investment accounts, certain types of live insurance, and valuable belongings (such as jewelry).

Debts are anything where there are creditors involved, such as mortgage or credit card debt and various kinds of loans.

If, for whatever reason, your spouse has that information and will not disclose it to you, that is a red flag. You need to hire an attorney immediately. Your case is not a good one for mediation (unless you have an attorney at your side).

5. Be Ready to Settle Before You Mediate

Once it has been determined by one or both of you that the marriage over (and, yes, it only takes one of you to move forward with a divorce), assess whether you are able to handle being in the same room with your spouse and settling out all your divorce matters.

If you feel that you will fall apart if you have to talk about settlement, focus on what is scaring you. Usually, it is fear that is at the root of anger, emotional-freezing, and many other emotions. Those fears will help you in mediation because you will know what you need to focus on. For example, fear of poverty is often addressed with a settlement discussion related to alimony. Fear of your children not doing well because of divorce can often be softened once you understand how many children do just fine growing up in two different homes.

If you can get yourself emotionally ready for a mediation, you will save yourself a lot of time, money, and trauma. Keep reminding yourself of that. And, if you refuse to sit down and settle, your spouse might not wait. That means lawyers and judges.

If you just can’t do it, talk to your partner and explain you need some time to adjust. Therapy, reading about divorce, or even consulting with a mediator can help you feel better about the whole thing. Information is power.




Contact Form

  • The use of this form for communication with Graine Mediation, LLC does not establish a mediator-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.