If you really want a Cheap Divorce, avoid these pitfalls!
Divorce is never a pleasant experience, even if you have vowed to remain “friends” with your ex-spouse. It is possible to settle out of court and get a quick, cheap divorce, but don’t make the common divorce mistakes that could jeopardize your future.
To be sure you are not overlooking some common cheap divorce pitfalls, review this checklist. If you are willing to do your homework, then your cheap divorce won’t end up costing you more money over the long term.
Hiding Money/Assets: Be sure you know about all assets owned by your spouse before signing any divorce property settlement. Finding undisclosed accounts may require legal “discovery”, but it will be well worth it. Many spouses have been known to hide assets or deplete joint accounts in anticipation of divorce proceedings. For this reason, it is important to check and re-check your bank statements from the past 12 months. If you find any suspicious withdrawals or transfers, look into them now. Once you sign the settlement agreement, it will be too late.
Don’t Rush: Many couples, in a rush to put an end to their dead marriage, will seek out a “quickie divorce”. While this may seem like a viable option, moving too fast will make it much easier to miss important details or sign off on unfavorable terms. Don’t be pressured into any divorce agreement that could have a long-term downside impact on your financial future.
Get “Real” Legal Advice: In matters like alimony or child support, it can be tempting to check in with your friends about how much they pay/receive. The reality is, everyone is a unique, so it is a better idea to consult the family court support guidelines for your area, and use that as a guide for calculating your monthly payments.
Don’t Let Small Details Get in the Way: When a couple decides to end their marriage, they can often spend more energy arguing over symbolic family heirlooms than they do on their real monetary assets. Rather than sweating the small stuff, take a big-picture view of your joint finances and work that out first.
Do not rule out alimony: Women with children often worry more about child support than alimony, especially women who work outside of the home. But women should remember that if they take on the responsibility of “custodial parent”; their income could be affected by this. After all, caring for children is a full-time job all by itself. Carefully consider all options concerning alimony before making a decision on whether to pursue it. While this may require an experienced divorce lawyer, it could be well worth the investment if you win.
Joint Property: If you and your spouse have “joint property”, it is considered to be legally owned by both parties. Before you waive your rights to any jointly held property in a quickly executed cheap divorce, be sure you are receiving your fair share of joint investments in either cash or settlements.
Co-Parenting: Many cheap divorce attorneys will include standard “legal language” on your custody agreement, rather than taking the time to customize it for your situation. Before signing this, be sure you have reviewed it carefully. The custody agreement should include the amount of time allotted for visitation, specifics about whether a spouse can travel out of state or out of the country with the children and any restrictions on overnight visits. In addition, if your spouse has a history of substance abuse, like drinking, your agreement should specify the amount of alcohol he or she can consume while caring for your children.
As you move toward a final divorce settlement, it can be very tempting to sign the divorce papers, just to get it out of the way, but this can be a huge mistake. Even if everything looks simple enough, and the divorce agreement seems pretty fair, you still may not be getting a good deal. A cheap divorce is always possible, but only if you do your research and carefully review all the divorce documents before signing. Otherwise, you may end up paying a much higher cost down the road for your “Cheap Divorce”!