Divorce is the short term for dissolution of marriage, termination of a marital union, dissolution of the bonds of matrimony, or the cancelling of the legal duties/responsibilities of marriage.
If you’re the person who is going through a divorce, there are many challenges that you would have to go through during the process. There’s the effect that the divorce will have on your kids and your family in general.
Depending on who filed or the divorce, it will have an emotional effect on you as well, while possibly affecting your self-esteem. Also, going through a divorce means losing money – depending on the circumstances surrounding your marriage.
Here, we will take a look at some quick statistics regarding divorce in the US, and how you can save money when going through the typically painful, messy and tedious process.
The Statistics Say It All
Why is divorce such a rampant problem, especially in countries like the United States? For 2013, the statistics here indicate that about 50% of all marriages end in divorce. The top five reasons why couples do so is poor communication, finances, abuse, loss of attraction to one another and infidelity.
Here are a few more staggering statistics about divorce in America:
- Every 13 seconds, one married couple ends up getting divorced.
- There are 6,646 divorces per day and 46,523 divorces per week.
- 41% of first marriages end in divorce, those who are getting married a second time have a 60% chance of filing for divorce again, and those who are marrying for the third time has a 73% chance of filing for divorce.
- The states with the highest divorce rates are Nevada, Maine, Oklahoma, Oregon and Vermont. Those with the lowest divorce rates are Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and North Dakota.
- According to Forbes.com, for 2010, the average cost of going through divorce proceedings is anywhere between $15,000 and $30,000.
- Even for a two-day trial for a divorce proceeding, court fees could set you back as much as $25,000. A cheaper alternative is formal arbitration, but it can still cost you anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.
- How does divorce affect the kids? Children from divorced families are twice more likely to drop out of high school; while those who experience divorce during adolescents have a 25% chance of becoming disengaged from their families. Also, kids whose parents are divorced frequently have lower academic achievements and psychological problems.
Aside from the kids and finances, your living arrangements, jobs, schedules and parenting tasks will become affected when there’s an on-going divorce.
Ways to Save Money on Your Divorce
Here, we will focus more on how you can save money on your divorce. As mentioned earlier, Forbes.com says that it could cost you as much as $25,000 to go through a full-process divorce proceeding.
Even for formal arbitrations, the process can set you back as much as $10,000. Since you are already going through an emotional phase with the divorce, you would not want to lose any more money than you have to.
So what exactly can you do in order to save money while going through divorce proceedings? Take a look at the following tips:
Consider several important things when going through the divorce settlement process
During the divorce settlement process, the first thing that you need to consider is your retirement plans. Remember that during a divorce settlement, one party will always walk away feeling as if he or she received the short end of the stick. Despite divorces being a messy, emotional process, you have to be objective enough to set aside your feelings when it comes to the issue of money.
If you are relying on the money that you will get out of the settlement for your retirement because you won’t get your pension until you hit 65 or 67, then the settlement will be a major source of your income.
Second, consider the future of your kids when going through the process of a divorce settlement. Does the parent with custody of the kids have health insurance? This should be factored into the amount of child support.
College tuition is yet another thing that you should consider when going through the procedures of a divorce settlement. What about the children’s lifestyle and the daily living expenses? If you are a mom who just recently filed for divorce and the kids are going to stay with you, take into account the cost of your kids’ living expenses when going through the divorce settlement.
Make sure that you have copies of everything
If it’s your first time filing for a divorce, keep in mind that it is quite a tedious process. All your financial documents will be scrutinized so you need to make copies of everything. Instead of having your divorce lawyer charge you extra, spend time at a copy center to make copies of your paperwork yourself.
Three copies should be enough: one for you, one for the planner and one for the lawyer. The more organized you are, the happier your lawyer would be while working with you.
Know what your options are when it comes to settling disputes
Dividing assets which you acquired during the marriage is one of the trickiest parts of settling a divorce. If you want to take better control of things, know what your options are when it comes to dispute resolution. Sometimes, the injured party will simply want to take something important from you out of spite.
When people are hurt, their instinct would be to lash out – and taking something valuable from the other person is a way to do just that. However, if you can set your feelings aside for a minute, you can probably come up with a mediation dispute resolution. This means that both parties will mutually agree to how assets will be divided post-marriage, through a facilitator.
Another option is to work with specially-trained lawyers in a process called collaborative divorce. This eliminates the need to send the case to divorce court, although you still need the presence of financial planners and parent coordinators to oversee the health of your finances as well as the kids concerned.
Learn about initial consultations, billing hours and filing fees
During the initial consultation with a lawyer or a financial planner, you’d want to maximize the time spent with them so as not to increase your billing hours. Keep the conversation short but as informative as possible by doing your research beforehand. Before the meeting, keep your financial records up to date. Have a list of your monthly expenses especially if you expect to keep custody of the kids.
Do not call your lawyer for every question that pops to mind because it will be included in his or her billable hours. If a question pops in your head, simply take note of it and get the answer once you meet with your lawyer face to face. Another thing that you need to learn about is filing fee. Typically, the spouse who files for the divorce handles paying the filing fee.
Other tips to save money on your divorce
When choosing a divorce lawyer in the first place, you would not want to immediately go with one who charges the lowest per-hour rate. Someone who is an expert and will help you get a better settlement at a few dollars more per hour will be better than someone cheaper, but will not necessarily put your needs as a client on the forefront.
For special issues, make sure to hire a divorce lawyer who is an expert in your situation. Also ask for referrals from friends or colleagues who have already gone through the same experience.
After the divorce, there would be things on your household budget that you might need to cut back on. Make sure that your finances are on track during the divorce proceedings so that your life will not get even more messed up than it already is.
There are also spouses who can work out a settlement agreement among themselves – which is the cheapest way to get through a divorce in the first place. After all, you are both experts at what each other’s financial capabilities are. As long as you consider the needs of your kids through the settlement process, this will not cost you much financially.
Do not fight over personal property or mundane items simply out of spite. More importantly, do not fight over the kids. They’re already going through a painful enough experience as it is. Between the two of you, you can come up with a realistic co-parenting schedule that will benefit your kids and the two of you as individuals in the end.
If all else fails, you can look for parenting coordinators who can help you come up with a workable schedule. Sending the kids to court for a custody case is a no-no, and is an experience that will take its toll on their emotions in the long run.
Divorce is often arduous and frequently messy, but it is something that one out of two marriages has to go through. If you belong to the unfortunate side of the statistic, do everything you can to keep your finances in check. By following these money-saving tips, you can come out of the divorce feeling still financially stable – and hopefully emotionally ready to face a new chapter of your life.