Divorce isn’t something that anyone hopes for, but life happens. When it does, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and potentially save divorceÂ moneyÂ during an already difficult process. HereÂ are five cost-cutting moves you might want to consider if you ever find yourself in this situation:
1. Photocopy your own documents.
Lawyers bill you for the time their staff spends copying important paperwork. Instead of footing the bill for this simple task, do it yourself. Don’t forget to make a copy for your own files, too.
2. Consider divorce mediation
Depending on how complicated your situation is, you might be able to benefit from the services of a divorce mediator. Divorce mediation is an alternative to going through the formal process of divorce court. A mediator is a third party who, along with the divorcing couple’s lawyers, assists with negotiating a resolution to the divorce. Divorce mediation is usually quicker than litigation (which saves you divorceÂ money), and some courts offer low-cost mediation services.
3. Work with a divorce Money financial planner or tax accountant.
A financial planner specializing in divorce money saving or a qualified tax accountant can assist you with reducing any taxes that you and your former spouse might owe. You and your former spouse will be responsible if taxes are owed after filing a joint return, so make sure you save cash where you can.
4. Communicate via e-mail when appropriate
Â Most lawyers charge by the hour and phone calls add up. If you have a simple question, send an e-mail instead of calling your attorney. This is also a good way to keep documentation of your conversations should you have to refer to it at any point.
5. Stay married–at least for 10 years
If you were married for 10 years or more and you are 62 years of age or older, you’re eligible for half your former spouse’s Social Security benefits (but only if the benefit that you would receive based on your work history would be less than the benefits received based on your spouse’s work history). If not for love, keep in mind that hanging in there just a little bit longer will ensure a larger cushion for your retirement fund. However, if you re-marry, you won’t be entitled to your former spouse’s benefits.
For more on this topic, come back each week for a new Love and Money post.
Sheiresa Ngo is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise.