5 strategies for saving money in a divorce

The honeymoon has been over for a long time and in spite of your best efforts, the marriage is too. As you and your spouse approach the legal, financial and emotional issues of getting divorced, you can save a lot of money by working together.

Yes, I know, "If we could work together we wouldn't be getting divorced." But sometimes when people aren't trying to make the marriage work anymore, they can approach problems and discussions under a new light. And it is critical.

Divorce is very expensive and can have a long term impact on a family's finances. Here are some strategies to try before your day in court.

  • Mediation with a trained professional. Before hiring attorneys and beginning the adversarial sparing that occurs during divorce, try to sit down and arrive at an agreement. At the very least, this will flush out what areas you don't agree on; house, visitation, maintenance, etc. If you are able to agree on details, you can file for divorce pro se. The so called "do it yourself divorce" is exactly that. You file the papers without an attorney and bring the agreement to court. If you are too far apart in your positions, move to Collaborative Divorce.
  • Collaborative Divorce. This is a process where you work with attorneys who have special training. The goal is to divorce with respect and not have the damage to the family and relationships that can occur in "traditional" divorce. Additional professionals, such as trained therapists, assist spouses in working through feelings so solutions can be found. This method is also a lot cheaper than the traditional route.
  • Reconsider the house. So often, one or both spouses want to keep the house, especially if there are children involved. It pays to look carefully at this before making a final decision. You both may be better off selling the house, and purchasing a home that is easier to afford.
  • Check insurance. Health insurance is a big ticket item. Does the end of the marriage also mean the end of your insurance? Check whether you can COBRA out the policy or get covered through your job. Some states have funded programs for the uninsured. Make sure you have planned for insurance before the divorce is final.
  • Redo your budget. Too often, the newly divorced are shocked to find out how difficult it is to make ends meet on one paycheck. Even if there is child support, it is rarely even close to what raising a child actually costs. Anticipate the changes to your bottom line by reviewing every expense, every dollar, for at least a month. Look at making your expense chassis as small as possible. There will be enough other stress with all the changes without worrying daily about money.
Barbara Bartlein, RN, MSW, is the author of "Why Did I Marry You Anyway? Overcoming the Myths that Hinder a Happy Marriage." For more tips and tools to help you in your relationship, please visit: www.whydidimarryyouanyway.com
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