One of the scariest things about contemplating divorce is the potential cost. Here are six ways to keep those costs down!
1. Prepare. Organize your financial documents. You will need copies of your tax returns for the past two years, your most recent pay stubs, your most recent bank statements, your retirement statements, your lease or mortgage statements and your credit card and student loan statements.
2. Agree on what you can. As hard as it might be, if you can talk to your spouse, see what you can agree on. The more you can agree on and the less you have to rely on lawyers and judges, the cheaper your divorce will be.
3. If you can’t agree on your own, then go to a mediator friendly attorney such as myself who will either facilitate agreements between the two of you or send you to a mediator to reach those agreements before going to court.
4. Consider hiring a collaborative attorney who would work in collaboration with another collaborative lawyer and a financial consultant to iron out an agreement.
5. Avoid a costly “custody battle”. First and foremost talk about what will be best for the kids. If possible, agree to joint decision making unless there is substance abuse, physical abuse or severe emotional abuse. Figure out a parenting schedule which meets the kids’ needs and your own work schedules. This will form the basis of the “Allocation Judgment and Parenting Plan” required by Illinois Courts.
6. Once you hire an attorney, fill out all required forms as completely and quickly as possible. In Illinois, both parties must complete a “Financial Affidavit” which details your budget, what you own such as a condo or home, bank accounts and retirement accounts and what you owe. The faster you get this completed form back to your attorney, the faster he or she can prepare the Financial Agreement.
Divorce can be costly but the more organized you are and the more willing you are to compromise without betraying yourself and your children, the less the ultimate economic impact will be.