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Divorce is a really tough time for anyone but the last thing you need is a legal bill spiralling out of control too. Your costs shouldn’t be unexpected but you do have choices which could save you money.
Here are the top five ways to save money during your divorce.
When you know you’re facing divorce, it is best to not rush into anything.
If you’re feeling rushed or coerced by your estranged partner, it is best to take a pause and step back. Divorces are NOT a fast process. Even alleged “quickie divorces” you may have seen celebrity magazines claim. They’re not quite what they seem! There’s no fast track system even if you are minted. What they are referring to is just the fact that the divorce has been uncontended. There is a specific timetable that the courts have to adhere to so taking your time to choose your representation is worth it, especially if this means you can shop around for a better deal. Affordable Justice are just one example of very reasonably priced solicitors who are connected to a women’s refuge. Even if these are not local to you, considering a charitable or non-profit representation could save you thousands rather than rushing to sign up to your nearest highstreet solicitor. The whole process will likely take between four and six months.
Keep communicating with your ex rather than go through your solicitor.
Your solicitor is the expert so by all means go to them for advice throughout your proceedings but where possible remain amicable with your ex. Depending on how your representation charges, you might have to pay for extra phonecalls or emails. Chatting to your ex will also make co-parenting (if you have kids together) easier for you both. If you can’t come to an agreement about something between the two of you then consider mediation as a cheaper option.
Get your numbers together yourself and as early as possible.
In the UK, pension companies have up to 90 days to provide you with a transfer quote. This is the bit which takes the most time so if you’re looking for a swift break so you can move on with your lives then get in touch with your pension department or companies asap. You’ll also need a valuation on any property you own. Some estate agents will charge for this service if they know that you’re getting a valuation for this purpose. If possible, play the game and just imply that you’re looking to downsize for example. At £150 a time, omitting that we were getting our quotes for divorce purposes saved us £450 as we were advised to get three quotes and take an average. As for the value of your cars, check out AutoTrader. The alternative to this is formal discovery where your legal representatives will prepare written questions and request documents from the other side which all costs. You need to decide whether this is worth doing.
Pick your battles.
Remember the bigger picture throughout your separation and divorce. If you know your ex is going to want to take something from your shared home then think about what you’d like as a trade-off. If you’re prepared for conversations about dividing your assets, you can work out everything fairly. Try not to argue over something out of principle though. You’ll waste both time and money. However, remember that each item is an asset and has some monetary value so whilst you might not want something for what it is, if you know you could sell it on easily then it could be worth fighting for. As well as the monetary value the item has now, consider how much it would be to replace it if you need one too. TVs lose value quickly but to replace them could be very costly. Take the time to work out all these amounts so you’re ready for this chat.
Keep your bills down as much as possible if you need to move out but still contribute to your old house.
Most solicitors will advise you to continue to make a financial contribution to your family home even if you move out. This is to avoid being accused of desertion or leave your ex and any children you might have, struggling for cash. However, if you do need to move out, there are things you can do to ensure your bills on both properties are kept to a minimum. You can consider reducing any loan or credit card payments to the minimum amount. Ideally you want to be in a zero interest situation but for a small amount of time this may be something that makes your choices an affordable option. Speak to any lender about your situation if you think you might end up in financial difficulty though. If you’ve been overpaying on your mortgage, you can reduce this to your normal amount or you may be able to take a mortgage holiday subject to terms of your own agreement. Make sure you remember to inform your Council Tax office as this could reduce your bill by 25%. Doing your best to lower your utility bills by using less electricity etc could be better advise than switching suppliers at this point, especially if you’re looking to sell your family home as there may be get out clauses and associated costs.
Remember that your divorce is actually a small period in your life but could have a financial impact that lasts forever so ultimately your choices now need to be as carefully considered as possible.