How Can I Save Money During Divorce?
Could a Postnuptial Agreement Save Me Money?
Many people are familiar with prenuptial agreements, which some couples create before getting married to determine how finances and other issues will be handled in the event of a divorce. But not everyone knows that postnuptial agreements can provide many of the same benefits.
North Carolina law permits postnuptial agreements. A postnuptial agreement is a written agreement that is created after the couple is married. The contents of the postnuptial agreement typically address issues involving equitable distribution and the division of marital property in the event of a separation or divorce.
To be valid, a postnuptial agreement must be signed by both partners in a marriage and must be executed voluntarily. It is a good idea for each partner to have a separate lawyer when negotiating the terms of a postnuptial agreement to protect their interests.
Can I Lower My Divorce Costs by Trying Mediation First?
Divorce can be emotionally and financially devastating, especially when the divorcing couple engages in a protracted legal battle. Many couples are able to save time and money with divorce mediation services to resolve disputes.
In divorce mediation, a neutral mediator works with both partners to guide the negotiations and find common ground on important issues such as property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. A mediator’s job is to help everyone find agreement. The couple makes the decisions in the mediation process.
When mediation is successful, couples can reach reasonable and durable compromises that simplify the divorce process and give both sides ownership in the agreement they produce. In this way, the cost of private mediation with an experienced divorce attorney is often less expensive over the long term.
How Else Can I Save Money on Legal Fees in a Divorce?
Collaborative divorce can be significantly less expensive than traditional divorce litigation. But it’s not suitable for every couple’s situation.
If you and your spouse remain on civil terms and can settle disagreements through compromise, you may be able to save money by taking part in a collaborative divorce. The negotiations in the collaborative divorce process are structured to address everyone’s needs in an efficient manner rather than creating winners and losers.
When a settlement can be achieved through the collaborative divorce process, it can save divorcing couples tens of thousands of dollars in litigation costs and reduce the strife and acrimony involved in contested divorces.
How Are My Assets Valued in a Divorce?
One of the most important aspects of deciding how to split finances in a divorce is determining the value of marital assets, such as:
- Real estate– The marital home is often a couple’s most valuable asset. The house may need to be sold, or one spouse may wish to purchase the other spouse’s marital interest in the house or exchange assets of similar value. It’s important to get an accurate estimate of the value of the house. An appraisal by a real estate professional will give you the best idea of your home’s true value.
- Vehicles– To determine the value of any jointly owned vehicles, you can get reliable estimates from resources such as the Kelley Blue Book or evaluations by the National Automobile Dealer Association.
- Financial accounts– Be sure to add up the value of any joint or separate financial accounts acquired during the marriage. This includes bank accounts, retirement accounts, and stocks. You’ll need to subtract the value of any shared debts, including credit card debts, mortgages, and loans.
- Businesses– If you and your spouse own all or part of a business, you’ll need to determine the value of each spouse’s share of the business. You may need to work with an accountant to get an accurate assessment.
Are There Less Expensive Alternatives to a Home Appraisal?
Who pays for the cost of a real estate appraisal during a divorce is negotiable. Typically couples split the cost of an appraisal or each partner gets a separate appraisal, depending on the complexity. Since appraisals may cost hundreds of dollars, it’s common to wonder whether a less expensive alternative will suffice.
Some homeowners decide to use a process known as comparative market analysis to avoid the cost of an appraisal. Real estate agents use the approach to estimate the price of a home by looking at the values of comparable homes nearby that are listed for sale or have sold recently.
If you accept the comparative market value as the value for your home, chances are it will skew slightly lower or higher than your home’s true value, especially if there are not many recent comparable sales to use for comparison. This can have a significant impact on the division of assets in a divorce. It’s generally best to bite the bullet and pay for the cost of a professional, independent appraisal of the value of your house.
How Can an Attorney Lower the Cost of My Divorce?
A divorce attorney can offer professional guidance based on experience and help you maintain realistic expectations of what can be accomplished during divorce negotiations. Having the counsel of an experienced divorce attorney can prevent you from wasting time and money litigating unrealistic demands.
If you communicate honestly and respectfully with both your attorney and your spouse, you may reach a lasting compromise that saves money and leaves everyone more supportive of the outcome.
At Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, our knowledgeable attorneys are committed to providing clients like you with hands-on treatment, compassionate care, and personalized attention every step of the way. Call us at (919) 661-9000 or contact us online to get started with your initial case review.