As many divorced individuals can attest, going through the separation and divorce process can be grueling, time-consuming and expensive.
There are certain aspects of the process that clients are strongly advised not to do it yourself, especially as it pertains to filing important documents, formulating arguments and generally managing interactions with the Court and the other party. (In fact, when a client attempts to intervene too much, it can be very damaging to a case, depending on the individual situation.)
However, there are certain things that a client can do for him- or herself that will not only save time, it will save money.
Remove the Emotion
I have previously written about how much more quickly and easily most divorce cases would be resolved if both parties would set their emotions aside. Without animosity, resentment, or any of a myriad of other negative emotions that typically swirl around a divorce case, a divorce simply becomes a business transaction. Then, our job is to work out the details.
Read more about the merits of keeping your emotional cool during your divorce proceeding in my previous blog post.
Get a Pre-Nuptial Agreement
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are good that you’re way past the point of being able to implement a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, but I’ll keep this tip in here in case you ever decide to get re-married or if you can get your spouse to agree to a post-nup. A pre-nuptial agreement, while unpopular, could potentially save you an enormous amount of stress and money should you ever decide to get divorced.
Read more about pre- and post-nuptial agreements (also known as marital agreements) in this blog post.
Review Your Own Financial Information
In virtually every case, spouses are required to exchange financial information with the other side. This is so that when it comes time for the Court to determine child support, maintenance and division of assets and debt, everyone’s financial cards are on the table, and a fair decision can be made.
You will be asked to exchange bank and credit card statements and other documentation detailing property ownership, assets and debts, as well as tax returns and retirement account details.
Now, you could feasibly request that your attorney’s team review the other side’s documents to determine how much money is spent in each area (bills, food, entertainment, etc.), but it is far more effective if you do this yourself. Your attorney may not be able to identify some of the questionable expenses and may miss important details that could impact your financial situation for years to come.
For example, I heard about an attorney who was reviewing her client’s bank statements. She nearly missed a recurring charge which she assumed was for a normal living expense; upon further examination, she realized that the recurring charge was for an “online chat” service. Her client spent hundreds of dollars each month video chatting with nude women in Eastern Europe. Knowing that information might be evident to the other side, the attorney was better prepared to address the situation.
That’s an important detail that could potentially impact the Court’s ultimate decision about child support and maintenance, and potentially even the parenting agreement.
Besides this extreme example, most people are able to sort through their spouse’s bank statements in much less time than it would take an attorney, who doesn’t know the day-to-day lifestyle and the potential red flags. You know where your spouse regularly spends money, while your attorney does not.
Most attorneys charge by the hour, and even five hours spent on bank statement review could add up quickly.
In my next blog post, I will discuss further ways you can save money while going through a divorce. In the meantime, we suggest that you contact an attorney as soon as you realize that you will be getting divorced. The quicker you start working with a professional who can guide you, the quicker you will be able to identify potential sticking points, and the smoother your experience will ultimately be.
Call us today for a free consultation at 720-999-9506.