How to Make a Divorce Fast, Cheap, and Painless
Divorce is never easy, even when it's the right thing to do. But there are ways to make it simpler, less expensive, and less painful. Being prepared, working with your spouse, and making smart filing decisions can cut down on unnecessary delays, costs, and emotional anguish.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when beginning the divorce process and some ways to keep your divorce as fast, cheap, and painless as possible.
Not all divorce decisions are made ahead of time and with a clear mind. But if you can be prepared for the divorce before it happens, you can make it easier on yourself, your spouse, and your children.
Adequately preparing for a divorce may mean:
- Taking Care of Your Kids: Making sure you help your children through the divorce and make decisions in their best interest.
- Taking Care of Your Business: Making sure your small business is protected in the divorce.
- Taking Care of the Tax Man: Making sure you understand the tax implications of a divorce.
- Taking Care of Yourself: They may sound unromantic, but a prenuptial agreement can make many of the decisions for you (and it may not be too late to sign a postnup, either).
The more you know before you start your divorce, the less stress and uncertainty you'll face during the divorce itself.
This is certainly easier said than done, but divorcing couples who have open lines of communication and can come to an agreement on the major issues of the separation have an easier time, both financially and emotionally.
You Could File for an Uncontested Divorce
If you and your soon-to-be ex agree on the major issues that face most divorcing couples like child custody, property division, and spousal support, you can file for what's known as an uncontested divorce. Not all states offer them, but in the states that do, an uncontested divorce involves a stipulation from the non-filing spouse to agree to the terms of a divorce agreement which can be negotiated beforehand and submitted by the filing spouse. You may still be subject to waiting periods for divorce in your state, but you may be able to avoid additional court appearances and fees.
You Could Mediate Your Divorce
Along the lines of avoiding contentious court appearances, you can opt for a divorce mediator and hammer out difficult divorce details in a more cooperative setting. While divorce mediation isn't free, it can be a fraction of the cost of hiring dueling divorce attorneys, and you can solve the major complications of your divorce without paying attorneys to interminably bill hours and hours fighting it out in court.
You Could Try a Collaborative Divorce
Much like mediation, a collaborative divorce can reduce costs and animosity by encouraging the divorcing parties to work together to resolve contentious issues. Some jurisdictions may make collaborative efforts mandatory before hearings in court. Parties seeking a collaborative divorce still hire their own attorneys, but use more informal negotiating techniques to reach an agreement.
It may not sound possible or preferable, but having open lines of communication with your spouse will make the divorce easier in the end.
Common Paperwork and Processes
Every divorce is different -- different people with different histories and interests. But the divorce process is generally similar for most people. Knowing which procedure applies to your marriage and being familiar with the paperwork and proceedings can save time and money.
Divorce, Summary Dissolution, or Annulment?
Not all marriages need to go through traditional divorce proceedings in order to be legally ended. In some cases, there are simpler legal processes you can use.
A summary dissolution is one of these alternatives and may be available to couples who
- Have been married for five years or fewer
- Don't have any shared minor children
- Don't have any shared "real property" interests like a home or large land holdings
- Have less than a certain amount of marital property, under $25,000 or $35,000
- Relinquish any claim to spousal support following the separation
An annulment, as opposed to ending a legal marriage, contends your marriage was never legal to being with and is therefore invalid. Common reasons for an annulment are fraud or misrepresentation about a spouse's eligibility for marriage (due to age or previous marital status), impotence or failure to consummate the marriage, or temporary insanity.
Research, Forms, and Location
Doing your own research on how the divorce process works and what to expect can mentally prepare you for a divorce and keep your spouse in line. You can also familiarize yourself with various divorce forms, like the divorce petition, property settlement agreement, and custody agreement so you will know what paperwork is necessary and what you may need to gather for your attorney.
Knowing the difference between a fault and no-fault divorce can mean the difference between thousands of dollars and months of court dates. And knowing where to file for divorce can reduce your cost and time spent on the divorce process.
Counsel and Protection
As you can see, even the easiest divorces can be emotionally and legally complicated. To make sure your rights are protected in a divorce, you may want to consult with an experienced divorce attorney near you.
- Find Divorce Lawyers in Your Area (FindLaw Directory)
- The Divorce Process: Do's and Don'ts (FindLaw)
- 5 Potential Ways to Keep Divorce Costs Down (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- A 'Happy' Divorce? 7 Ways to Make It Less Stressful (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)