Divorce is going to be expensive. There is pretty much no way to avoid it. It’s hard to estimate exactly what a divorce will cost due to all the different possible factors and circumstances, but after you account for attorney fees, filing fees, court fees, expert witnesses and every other expense that pops up, some estimates put the average cost of divorce around $20,000.
Keeping track of all the expenses and making payments on time is important for coming out of the divorce without loads of debt and your credit still intact. This can be even more important if you are not used to taking care of the finances on your own. Here are some financial concerns to watch out for during your divorce.
Know how your attorney bills and keep track of what they are charging
Every firm, big and small, is going to have different rates and different methods for billing. Some may charge a flat rate; others will have their hourly amount, some will bill by 5-minute increments; other will bill by 15 — it’s up to you to decide what firm and system you like best. It is also wise to get any billing agreements in writing before moving forward, and if the attorney won’t agree to do that, don’t retain them.
It is also up to you to ensure you are not being overcharged. Most firms are will only hire honest and respectable attorneys, but there are some bad apples that will spoil the reputations for the bunch. Make sure that whomever you hire has a system to explain exactly what is being billed and why. Whether it is through an online tracking system, a detailed billing invoice or an itemized billing list, you will want to make sure any charges match up with the services you have received.
Create a budget and stick to it
Not everyone is good at managing money or maybe there hasn’t ever really been a need to keep a detailed account of your finances before, but this skill becomes essential when going through a divorce. It might be boring and tedious, but with the cost of divorce, knowing how much money you have, where it is being spent and where you can trim fat from your monthly expenses becomes vital.
Online services like those offered by mint.com, which compiles all of your accounts into one easy-to-access interface, allows you to track your money with ease and set financial goals. Other methods, such as simply tracking spending on your own, creating a calendar for when bills are due, utilizing spreadsheets or a variety of other budgeting techniques will also help keep track of your expenses.
Consider hiring a financial planner
While most commonly associated with complex divorces that deal with complicated issues such as high net worth asset division, dividing large retirement accounts or determining how to split the value of a business, financial planners can be useful to anyone. They are specialists who can help you plan for your financial present, as well as future, by helping you set realistic financial goals.
The only drawback is, like attorneys, they will be an extra expense who generally charge by the hour. However, their expertise can help you get the most out of your settlement, and they are a invaluable to those of us who are not financially inclined. If you can afford to pay a little extra now, they can likely help you save much more in the future.
Avoid falling into the trap of predatory loans
This goes for everyone in financial straits, but divorce has a way of creating situations of desperation that title and payday loans capitalize on. Combined with the emotional instability of divorce, it can be easy for typically savvy people to rationalize getting a short-term loan with exorbitant interest as the simplest way to pay an expense — but that’s how these businesses make money.
A little financial planning can go a long way when it comes to divorce. Whether you have been dealing with finances your whole life or you are new to the fiscal responsibility game, taking an active role in handling your money is a skill that will help you throughout life. Divorce is expensive, but careful budgeting and management can help alleviate some of the sting to your bank account.