Saving Money During the Divorce Process

There are ways you can save money in the divorce process.  However, you must be careful that if you save too much money in the short term (by not getting good advice), it may cost you dearly in the long term.
1.  Use your brain.  Don’t let your hurt and disappointment drive you to take rash decisions in retaliation.
2.  When advised to do things that will upset or damage your spouse at the beginning or during the divorce process, ask, “how will this affect my ability to achieve my desired outcomes?” and “what will it cost, both in financial and emotional terms, for me to do this?”  For example, does it really make sense to file a temporary injunction against your spouse if there are no real grounds to do so?  Do you really need to take $10,000 from the joint bank account and put it into your own account without getting agreement.
3.  As one attorney told me, if someone tells you something about the law that does not make sense, then it is probably not true.  For example, if you move out of the house where your spouse and children are, but are still keeping contact with your children, you will not be charged with abandonment.
4.  If you can settle your case without retaining attorneys to represent you, you will save a lot of money in professional fees.  You should at least consult with an attorney (sometimes called unbundled legal services) so that you know what your rights and obligations are.
5.  If you get advice from a family law attorney or a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst so that you understand the short and long term financial implications of your potential agreement, then you should be able to make better, more informed decisions and not have nasty surprises one, two or more years down the road.
6.  Get all of the documentation together early  that you are required to provide by the court and have it organized.  If you believe you have a claim for non marital, separate property, then get the evidence you need to support your claim, unless you spouse agrees with your claim without the documentation.
7.  Don’t try to hide assets, or “forget about them”.  It will cost you a lot of money in “discovery” for the attorneys to uncover them.  If it is not found during the course of the divorce, but is suspected later, your spouse can reopen the case – more attorney fees!
8.  You have learned during the course of your marriage how to “push the buttons” of your spouse.  This is not the time to do it.  Think before you speak.   The kinder that you are to each other during the process, the less money you will spend on professional fees and the more likely you will come out with an agreement that you both think is fair. Before you speak, ask yourself these questions.  If the answer is No to any of them, STOP.    Is it truth?  Is it necessary?  Is it kind?
9.  If you need cash, you can often get money from your retirement funds after the divorce without paying the 10% penalty in addition to the normal income tax on the early withdrawal.
10.  Alimony is normally tax deductible to the payor and taxable to the recipient. Child Support is tax neutral.  By increasing alimony you can sometimes save taxes overall and reduce child support.  Both of you could be better off.  Because Child Support is always modifiable by the Court, when alimony ends or reduces, then child support may go up.
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