Let’s face it. Divorce is expensive. Not only do you have to pay court costs and legal fees, but you are also likely to be racking up therapy bills. Add that to the cost of establishing a second household, plus all of the hidden costs of divorce (moving, selling your home, taxes, separate health insurance, etc.) and it’s not hard to understand why so many people are focused on a cheap divorce and cutting costs as much as possible.
The key to a cheap divorce (or at least a cheaper divorce) can be summed up in a single word: management.
Managing Yourself in the Divorce Process
The first and most important thing that you must manage if you want to keep your divorce costs under control is YOU! Unfortunately, managing yourself means managing your emotions.
Yes, I know. Managing your emotions when your entire life is spinning out of control isn’t easy. You’re angry, you’re upset, you have fear, and you’re exhausted.
The key here is to understand that there is a huge difference between managing your emotions and pretending that they don’t exist.
Managing Your Emotions
When you try to push your emotions down instead of feeling them, they usually burst out later when you least expect it. For example, if you find yourself blowing up your divorce settlement over who gets the wedding china (that you always hated anyway), chances are you are dealing with more than just the china. You are dealing with unresolved emotions–anger, resentment, bitterness.
Denied emotions increase the craziness – and therefore the cost – of your divorce. They often end up sabotaging you in ways you can never imagine.
So how do you manage your emotions in divorce? You start by recognizing that you are going to be emotional and giving yourself a break. You are not a robot.
The pain of divorce is worse than almost any other pain on the planet. Allow yourself to feel your pain, and feel your emotions. Sure, it’s hard. Of course you would rather not feel all these ugly feelings. But until you allow yourself to feel bad, and deal with those feelings, you are never going to be able to feel really good.
Next, understand that there is a time and a place for expressing your emotions. Screaming, sobbing, and pounding the pillow in your living room is okay. Melting down in the middle of a court appearance is not.
Finally, if you want to control your costs and keep your divorce as cheap as possible, you need to get a good therapist ordivorce coach. The amount you spend on getting the right support now will pale in comparison to the amount you will spend if you try to go through your divorce while you are an emotional basket case.
Managing Your Spouse in the Divorce Process
It’s no secret that fighting with your spouse increases the cost of your divorce exponentially. So, if you want to get divorced while keeping your divorce costs low, you need to minimize the drama. That means you not only have to manage yourself in the divorce process, but you have to manage your spouse as well.
Notice, I said you have to “manage” your spouse. I didn’t say you have to “control” your spouse. That’s because you can’t control your spouse. The more you try, the uglier and more expensive your case is likely to become.
Managing your spouse means picking your battles, and doing what you can decrease the drama and bring out the best in your spouse, not the worst. (Yes, you read that right!)
Even though right now you could probably care less about whether you are bringing out the best in your spouse, if doing that means saving you time, money, and heartache, then doing it makes sense.
It may be counterintuitive, but you are much more likely to settle your case peacefully (and inexpensively) if you and your spouse are both at your best, rather than if you are both at your worst.
Managing the Divorce Process
Managing your divorce process means two things. First, it means managing the way you get divorced. Second, it means managing the professionals who help you through your divorce.
Managing the Way You Get Divorced
There are many ways to get divorced today. You can use litigation, mediation, arbitration, collaborative divorce, or cooperative divorce. You can hire a lawyer to represent you, hire a lawyer just to consult with you, or you can do your divorce yourself.
Each divorce process operates a little bit differently, but all of them are going to require similar things.
You are going to have to gather and organize your financial information. You are going to have to make a plan for your kids, and figure out who will pay child support. Depending upon your situation, you may have to decide whether one of you will pay the other spousal support. Finally, you are going to have to divide your stuff and allocate your debts.
Knowing what’s coming allows you to plan ahead and save time and money.
Gathering and organizing your financial information in advance will keep you from having to pay $350+ per hour for your divorce lawyer to do it later. Working on a parenting schedule directly with your spouse (or a mediator) will mean you don’t have to pay lawyers to work on it for you. Amicably dividing even some of your stuff with your spouse now will save you time and money later.
The long and short of all of this is that the more work you do in your divorce yourself (even though you may hate it!), the more money you will save. The more you and your spouse can agree on things, the less you will fight, and the cheaper and easier your divorce process will be.
Managing Your Divorce Professionals
Managing your divorce professionals requires you to remember that this is YOUR life. You need to make sure that your divorce professionals are on the same page with you, and are moving in the direction you want.
If your lawyer is causing a fight you don’t want and ringing up bills the size of the national debt, it’s time to have a little “Come to Jesus” talk with your lawyer. Either your lawyer needs to take a different approach or you may need a different lawyer.
If your mediator is booked solid and your case is dragging on, you need to address your divorce timing with your mediator. If any of your divorce professionals are acting in a way that is needlessly upping the drama in your divorce for no reason, you need to talk to that person and get them back on the same page with you.
The bottom line is that, if you want to get divorced as efficiently and inexpensively as possible, you need to do your best to manage the process and the people involved.
Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Speaker and Author. She provides divorce and decision coaching to busy professionals and business owners who want to make clear, confident decisions during one of the toughest yet most sensitive times in their life. Karen also helps them navigate through the divorce process with less conflict, expense, and damage to themselves and their children.
Karen is the author of When Happily Ever After Ends: How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially, and Legally. She is also the creator of the online divorce program, The Divorce Road Map 2.0. You can connect with Karen on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as on her website at karencovy.com.