How to Avoid Going Into Debt During a Divorce
Divorce can be expensive. In California, the average cost of a divorce is $17,100 for a couple with no children and $26,300 for a divorce with children. On top of that, divorcing spouses go from a two-income household to a one-income household. Between legal expenses and the sudden change in income, it can be very easy for you to incur a lot of debt during a divorce.
Develop a Budget & Stick to It!
To avoid debt while divorcing, try to maintain a lifestyle you can afford, which may not be the same standard of living you had while married. One of the worst things a divorcing spouse can do is take a joint credit card and go on a spending spree, assuming that their ex will be required to pay for it. Running up a large credit card could adversely affect your credit as well as your spouses. When divorcing, you should develop a budget that takes into account your new income and your lifestyle needs.
Don’t Pay Expensive Attorney Fees
In addition to carefully budgeting, you can avoid debt during a divorce by minimizing the cost of a divorce. By far the largest divorce expense is attorney fees, so most divorces are obtained without the assistance of an attorney. If the couple has not been married for a long time, has few assets, or are on friendly terms, they can probably handle the divorce without an attorney. Many family courts have self-help centers that provide assistance to divorcing spouses who do not have an attorney.
While a you can save a significant amount of money by not hiring a divorce attorney, there are circumstances where an attorney will be necessary. If the couple has a complicated financial situation or if the divorce proceeding becomes contentious, you will need to hire an attorney. Most attorneys charge by the hour. Any time you call or email the attorney, you will get charged. You should only consult your attorney with legal issues and save emotional issues for your therapist. When dealing with your attorney, be as prepared as possible. For example, if your attorney requests certain documents, take the time to organize them. He/she will charge you the hourly rate if he/she has to sort through them.
Resolve Divorce Issues with Your Spouse to Limit Legal Expenses
If you wish to minimize the cost of a divorce, you should try to come to an agreement with your spouse on as many issues as possible. Divorces that go to trial are considerably more expensive than divorces where the spouses agree to a settlement. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, there are alternatives to a trial. Spouses can opt for mediation or arbitration, where a family law expert will decide the issues. Arbitration and mediation fees are not cheap, but they are significantly less than the cost of a trial.
It can be difficult to avoid going into debt during a divorce, but by carefully budgeting and strategically minimizing expenses, you can obtain a divorce without going into debt.
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