Whether mediating or litigating your divorce, costs can escalate quickly, especially if you are facing a complicated settlement. There are some simple ways, however, to help keep the cost of your divorce down. Here are 4 of them:
- Limit Email Communications
Communicating with any divorce professional by email can substantially increase the costs of your divorce. I had a client who was never able to find a convenient time when her children weren’t around to speak with me, insisting that we do everything by email. Here are the reasons why email is not an efficient way to communicate.
- It takes twice as long to read an email and frame a cogent response than it does to handle a matter in person or on the phone.
- Rarely does one email resolve an issue. A simple question may be answered by email, but a more complex question might inspire a series of follow-up questions which leads to a slew of emails. A spontaneous conversation could resolve a situation much more quickly, saving money.
- Emails can be easily misconstrued. Without the nuances of a live conversation, the context or intent of an email can be misunderstood. I’m sure we all have a story about sending what we perceived as an innocent email, that resulted in an accidental offense requiring further email correspondence to clarify and apologize.
- Avoid Long Explanations
Since all states now have no-fault grounds, emotional explanations as to why you are getting divorced may make you feel better, but are expensive conversations better left with your therapist.
Often clients don’t realize how much time has been spent until they receive their first bill. What they perceive as necessary, anecdotal background color can really eat up time (and money). Turning every communication into a “tit for tat” exchange with your ex can also escalate costs. Emotion and finances do not mix well, or make for effective communication. What they do is take up time which delays the process and ends us costing you more money.
- Be Prepared
I often ask clients to send financial information or fill out worksheets prior to our session so that I can review and be productive from the first minute. When clients are unprepared, miss deadlines or continually change information, it slows the process down. The longer it takes to secure the necessary information, the more money you will spend.
- Beware the Invisible Auxiliary Advisors
Who are the invisible auxiliary advisors?
- My mother said . . .
- In my sister’s divorce . . .
- My best friend went through a divorce and he got. . .
Despite their good intentions, reiterating the solutions suggested by these “advisors” only slows things down, which adds time and costs you money. While most divorces contain many of the same components (spousal support, child custody and division of assets), every situation is unique. Finances, circumstances and personalities differ. Therefore, each case requires a unique set of solutions. Bringing the expectations of outside advisors to the table with you, while well meaning, can cost you time and money too.
Divorce is the single largest financial transaction you will make in your lifetime. There are many aspects that you can’t control, but those that you can control can have a positive effect on the bottom line and give you a head start on a better financial future.