Divorce is not easy. But it doesn’t have to involve knock-down drag-out fighting with your spouse or cost you an arm and a leg.
Here are 9 tips that can save you money and aggravation in your New Jersey divorce:
1. Picture what you want your life to look like after the divorce.
Do you want to buy a new home? Maintain and grow your business? Will your children live with you or do you want shared parenting with your spouse?
The more details you can envision, the more control you can have over the outcome. And the less left to chance for last-minute decisions in your divorce.
Be sure to focus on the big picture. Identify what matters most to you in your divorce.
Do you want to maintain a civil (if not amicable) relationship with your ex for the sake of your kids? If so, focus on that as you deal with your spouse during the divorce.
2. Listen to your children and consider their concerns.
The older your children are, the more they need to be heard. They will likely have many questions and fears. Do your best to listen and reassure them.
3. Hire a lawyer with specific expertise in divorce and family law.
Trying to get a divorce without a lawyer, just to save money, can cost so much more in the long run.
Many lawyers practice family law among real estate, criminal, municipal, estate, and other legal matters. Hiring a lawyer who is not uniquely knowledgeable and skilled in family law can cost much more money and unnecessarily increase conflict with your spouse.
Also, be sure your lawyer is on the same page as you. For example, if you want to try to resolve your divorce amicably, the last thing you need is an attorney who likes to litigate at all cost.
4. Know your finances.
The more you know about the marital finances, the less you will have to pay your lawyer to find out.
It’s important that the financial decisions in your divorce are informed. That is, with full knowledge and understanding of the marital income, assets, and debts.
Likewise, you will need this knowledge to complete a Case Information Statement, (commonly referred to as a CIS), which is typically required to be filed with the court in New Jersey.
The CIS provides your financial profile and is generally considered the most important document in a divorce case.
For a detailed list of documents to obtain for your divorce, take a look at my previous post.
It’s also very important to run your credit report. It’s easy to miss things in the midst of divorce.
Your credit report can act as a checklist of what to include in your divorce agreement. It will also bring to light any debts by your spouse you might not know about.
5. Secure trusted financial and tax guidance.
If you don’t know the financial and tax consequences of your divorce, it can cost you thousands of dollars. Be sure to consult with a trusted accountant and/or financial advisor before making final financial decisions in your divorce.
6. Be wary of divorce “advice” from others.
While you might be tempted to get advice from friends, family, or acquaintances who’ve been divorced, it’s generally a bad idea. No one knows your particular circumstances the way your lawyer does and can advise you properly.
It is important, however, to surround yourself with trusted friends and family for emotional support.
7. Ignore nasty attempts by your spouse to hurt you.
Keep in mind that people are often at their worst during divorce. If your spouse accuses you of abandoning your children or threatens to sue you for every last dime, or any of the many other nasty things angry spouses can blurt out, ignore it. End the conversation. Period.
8. Don’t short change yourself just to get the divorce over with.
Divorce has its own timeline. The longer it takes, the more you might become tempted to give in and agree to things against your better judgment. If you do, chances are you might regret it later. It’s important to be patient and focus on your goals.
9. The vast majority of New Jersey divorce cases settle out of court.
Only about one percent of divorce cases filed in New Jersey go to trial. And for good reason. Going to trial generally costs tens of thousands of dollars and leads to an unpredictable result by the court.
Divorce doesn’t have to be destructive and put you in the poor house – nor should it. By keeping your values and goals front and center during the divorce, the more solid and successful your life will be afterward.
Thanks for reading! Please share this post with others who might find it helpful.