The stress and emotional pain of a divorce is one of the aspects that makes ending your marriage so difficult. But the financial toll that it will take is also no laughing matter; a recent study by Ohio State University shows that divorcees are 77 percent poorer than their married counterparts. Consider the following tips for minimizing the impact of divorce on your wallet:
1. Hire a good attorney – While this may seem like a given, never underestimate the merits of hiring experienced and effective legal representation. If you are considering filing or have just been served, talk to a lawyer before you make your next move. Each step and action in a divorce is critical and you will need guidance to do it right.
2. Don’t move money or make big purchases if you think a divorce may be in your near future – The court could view this as you trying to hide your assets and could give your spouse the upper hand. Be honest and open about your financial situation with your attorney. Never lie about finances or try to cover them up.
3. Ask about the price tag – An attorney with plenty of courtroom experience will be able to provide an accurate assessment of how much the suit will run in legal fees and what you will stand to gain at the end. It is oftentimes cheaper to settle out of court with a third party mediator. Make sure you do not throw away dollars fighting over pennies – let your spouse have that $200 painting if it means saving thousands in legal fees.
4. Be upfront about your debt – Your lawyer can help you figure out how to best remedy your debt situation since going into a divorce owing more than you have can mean coming out of it with no assets. The best thing to do is hire a knowledgeable attorney with experience with debt and craft a plan of action that will benefit you in court.
5. Get a postnuptial agreement – Sometimes the issues that lead to a divorce can be resolved with some shrewd financial planning. Money and spending differences are often sources of tension in a marriage and can cause a rift even if there are no other issues. If you and your spouse did not sign a prenuptial agreement and are facing financial tensions, it may be worth considering whether a post-nup could solve your problems. Just make sure you’re not doing it to gain an upper hand in the divorce you’re planning on filing as soon as the ink on the post-nup has dried. The court can throw the agreement out if it seems as if coercion or trickery were involved. And if you decide to try the post-nup route, make sure you and your spouse both have a lawyer look over the document to ensure it is fair and will hold up in court.