Divorce is neither good nor bad, it just is.
For a married couple, one spouse may consider it to be the best thing that’s ever happened, while the other may find it to be the worst.
That being said, an amicable divorce is the best possible solution when you have decided to get divorced.
Most of us have some experience with divorce, since almost 50% of all marriages will end in divorce. My parents split up when I was five, and it’s negatively affected my life ever since. They weren’t able to have an amicable divorce, and it took an emotional and psychological toll on my brother and I that’s difficult to quantify. It had a profound financial impact, with my mom having to raise us on a schoolteacher’s salary. Finally, it’s complicated every holiday and family gathering since.
This morning, AJ Grossman, attorney and CEO of Leap Frog Divorce was my guest on the LifeBlood podcast. He talked about how divorce has many secondary effects we don’t normally think about. Divorce harms nearly every relationship (friendships, family, as well as community), putting others in uncomfortable situations. He shared insight into how to know if divorce is your best option, and how to get divorced in the best possible way. Listen to our podcast episode.
In my work as a financial advisor, I’ve helped countless people navigate the financial aspects of divorce. For many years, I was a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. I’m honored to be named to Investopedia’s list of the top 100 financial advisors many years running.
My goal is to help you understand your options for getting divorced outside of simply hiring an attorney and going to court. I appreciate that sometimes spouses get to the point of no return, and there’s no way they’ll be willing or interested in working together. If you’re still in a place where you feel it’s possible to come to a mutually beneficial agreement, read on.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The case for amicable divorce
- Divorce without court
- Divorce mediation
- Collaborative divorce
- Litigated divorce
Let’s get started.
The case for amicable divorce
If you’ve done everything you can to avoid getting divorced, work to have an amicable divorce. Being thoughtful and caring during this arduous process will benefit your family dynamics for the rest of your life, particularly if you have children.
Think about it- you’re going to have to see and interact with your ex for the rest of your life. If you can end your marriage without hating one another, you really set yourself up a better future. The alternative is having to deal with someone you dislike, who dislikes you.
And your ex is always going to be your kids’ mom or dad. This truly is an example of an ounce of prevention being better than a pound of cure.
Divorce without court
The first method for having an amicable divorce is doing so without going to court.
If you and your spouse agree about getting divorced, and you’re willing to communicate openly with one another, there are a lot of solutions for getting divorced online.
The online provider will walk you through a set of questions, arrange the paperwork, and explain the process for getting everything filed. Once a judge signs the paperwork, your divorce will be complete.
This is a straightforward process that typically costs hundreds of dollars.
The next option for an amicable divorce is mediation.
According to Nolo.com, “In divorce mediation, you and your spouse meet with a trained, neutral mediator to discuss and resolve the issues in your divorce. Mediation sessions often take place in an informal office setting, but you might also go through your mediation online.
A mediator can help you agree on the issues you and your spouse need to resolve in order to complete your divorce, such as child custody, child support, and property division. Mediators don’t decide or offer legal advice, but serve as facilitators to help spouses figure out what’s best for their situation.”
There are a lot of benefits to mediation:
- It’s typically a lot less expensive. The typical cost is $3,000 to $8,000.
- It’s private. Unlike litigated divorce, mediation has no public record.
- It’s flexible. After going through the process, you can still retain an attorney if you choose.
I think this is a great option, particularly when there are kids involved.
Collaborative divorce is another option for getting an amicable divorce.
According to Divorcenet.com, “A collaborative divorce is a legal divorce process that allows couples to negotiate all the terms of a divorce, without the need for mud-slinging or fighting in court. Couples will use a combination of mediation and negotiation to reach an agreement on the critical terms of divorce, like property and debt division, child custody and child support, and spousal support.”
With collaborative divorce, both parties agree to work together and negotiate the divorce. Each spouse hires an attorney that represents them. What makes this process unique is that there are also shared experts; commonly a divorce coach, financial specialist, and a child specialist.
Once the collaborative divorce team is assembled, all aspects are openly discussed and negotiated. Instead of fighting over money and custody, the team works to find common ground and solutions that make the most sense for everyone involved.
The typical cost of collaborative divorce is $40,000 for each spouse.
If there’s no opportunity for you and your spouse to have an amicable divorce, the only remaining option is litigation.
This process is commonly expensive, stressful, and time consuming. Here are common costs according to the Mitchell Crunk Law firm:
- A net worth of $1 million would cost around $50,000 to $75,000
- A net worth of $2-5 million would cost around $100,000 to $200,000
- A net worth of $6-10 million would cost around $300,000 to $500,000
- A net worth of over $10 million and more would most likely cap off at around $600,000 to $750,000.
Not only is this process expensive, the court proceedings are also public record. That means everyone who wants to know the details of your divorce will have access to them.
The entire purpose of this post is to dissuade you from taking this route.
The more you can keep your divorce in perspective, the better. Yes, you no longer want to be married to this person, but they’re probably going to be in your life forever. Work to make your separation as amicable as possible.
Connect with one of our Certified Partners to get any question answered.
Stay up to date by getting our monthly updates.
Check out the LifeBlood podcast.
LifeBlood is supported by our audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.