Preparing for divorce ahead of time sounds a lot like preparing a will – no one wants to do it. But speaking from experience as a divorce lawyer, a little bit of preparation can go a long way.
Here’s the major benefit: You will save time and money.
How much does divorce cost?
CBS News once ranked states based on cheapest and costliest for divorce. Florida came in as the fourth costliest state, behind California, New Jersey and Connecticut. In the U.S. as a whole – estimates vary based on source – the average cost of divorce is around $20,000 or more (for a contested divorce). Uncontested divorces, in which the parties generally agree on major issues, can be much less, at around $5,000, or even just a few hundred dollars (not including filing fees).
Long story short, divorce costs money, any way you slice it.
But the real issue is two-fold:
- How much value are you getting for your money?
- How can you be smart with the money you are spending?
Most people simply cannot get away with the $299 uncontested divorce. There’s too much at stake.
As a prime example, consider a sizeable 401(k) savings account, with significant value because of regular contributions and compound interest. The other spouse will likely have a significant claim to part of it. How do you equitably divide this retirement account?
This is the kind of issue a good lawyer solves – and it’s worth the attorney fees to get it done.
Paying attorney fees to resolve the most important issues like child custody and property division is being smart with your money. Another is to prepare for divorce before things really get started.
This is the most practical thing you can do:
Organize and gather information ahead of time. Gather all financial information on assets, liabilities, and income. Try to be thorough. Your lawyer would ordinarily perform this task for you – and charge you by the hour to do it.