Why Is Divorce So Expensive?
Years ago I wrote a book on divorce. Having been through the process a bunch of times—I’m the eternal optimist—I believe there are better ways of handling a breakup than taking a contract out on your Ex and running up a massive cost. Thus the reason for the Common Sense Divorce.
Divorce impacts your life in so many ways. Even as you’re trying to untangle your emotions, you are also trying to deal with the kids, split the assets, soothe the in-laws, decide who gets the dog… and then… there’s the money. When it comes to Divorce there are definitely divorce rules just as surely as there are money rules. Many times the divorce rules and the money rules may even be the same.
DIVORCE RULES #1: Hang on to as much of your assets as you can.
Let’s say you’ve got 12 oranges. They represent all the assets you’ve accumulated during your relationship. Now YOU have to decide how many of those oranges you’re willing to give to the legal system. If you both go out and lawyer up with litigators – its going to be expensive. Figure out how to keep the two of you out of court.
Attitude is everything. Send your spouse nasty emails, texts or phone calls and rest assured, you will receive a letter from their lawyer. And, like most people, your response to a strongly worded letter from your spouse’s lawyer will be to respond in kind with a letter from your newly retained litigation lawyer.
Let’s make this tangibly real. Think this way… to keep the math simple, every nasty email is going to cost you $100. Every angry text is going to cost you another $100 and every slammed phone, another $100. It’s not that lawyers are inappropriate…it is that the system itself is wired to be acrimonious and to escalate conflict.
Know this… the more often you write, call, and meet your lawyer… the bigger the bill. And if you go to court, beware that you may not have enough oranges left over to make even a thimbleful of orange juice!
One reason divorces end up costing so much is because there’s usually a ton of emotional crap to wade through. If you allow emotions to negatively impact your financial decisions, you’ll not only be sorry, you’ll be poorer. The emotional stuff is temporary, the legal costs are permanent.
Some people try to use divorce as a way to punish their Ex. But understand the flawed logic here: using the legal system to torture your Ex is not only incredibly expensive, in the end it will only leave you (and your children) with far less to restart your life with. An unwillingness to negotiate and arguing over every silly detail will mean less money for a new home and a fresh start. Keep your eye on the future and keep your assets in your family.
DIVORCE RULES #2: Plan For A Divorce To Cost Some Money
FACE THE FACTS… it is going to cost you money to divorce. Hopefully you saved for a rainy day, because right now…it’s raining. STRAIGHT UP…you paid good money to buy the gown, feed the guests and host the wedding and now you are going to have to pay get divorced. The big question is, “How much of your hard earned money are you prepared to part with?”
What will Divorce Cost Me? That depends entirely on you and your spouse. Want to punish your spouse for everything they have ever wronged you with? Knock your socks off…just know that you are going to pay LOTS of good money to do so.
Decide that your spouse is never allowed to see your children again, and unless there is some very good reason why, you are going to pay HUGE sums of money to be told that you are not allowed to do that.
Decide that you shouldn’t have to pay child support? Go for it! Just know that you are going to give away your retirement nest egg and then likely LOSE your case.
Arrive at meetings unprepared, let your emotions run wild, fight over who gets the toaster, put your legal team on speed-dial and you are on the road to paying for someone else’s summer home!
INSTEAD, do your homework, prepare yourself, control your emotions, mind your manners and you will fare much better. This is nothing more than common sense. So now I ask you the same question: Your divorce IS going to cost money, but how MUCH of your hard earned money are you prepared to part with?
DIVORCE RULES #3: Do It Right the First Time.
Do yourself a favour… take an afternoon off work and go down to the local courthouse – and JUST LISTEN & WATCH! The place is filled with people that started their divorce amicably and decided to create their own homemade Separation Agreements but are now petitioning the court to throw out their “kitchen table” agreements. Believe me or don’t believe me… its your money, but I can assure you of one thing, NOBODY STARTS OUT SAYING THEY ARE GOING TO SPEND 10, 20 or $30,000 on their divorce. But somehow average people do it everyday. Do your homework… its the people that are revisiting agreements that were not done properly to begin with that are spending the big money.
I’ve come to the conclusion that spending money on your Separation Agreement can be a little like going to the dentist. The dentist tells you that you need a crown on that tooth and it will cost you this much dollars if we address it now. BUT If we wait too long, its going to require a crown and a root canal… at twice the cost and twice the pain. And we all know the temptation… leave it and hope for the best.
LISTEN – You are trying to move on with your life. Divorce can cause a huge hit to your future financial plans. Get it done right from the beginning and then move on to rebuilding your life. You don’t want to have to be revisiting this all over again.
Gail Vaz-Oxlade's Guide To
For more than 20 years you have witnessed Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s trademark straight-up money wisdom, both on Radio and Television, most notably as host of TVs Till Debt Do Us Part, Princess and Money Moron. Gail is a multiple time, best-selling financial author, and one of the top Canadian authors of the past decade. Gail brings her common sense wisdom to answer your questions about XXXXXX and divorce in Ontario.
The Unofficial Rules of Divorce:
- Divorce gets prickly, even in the most amicable situation
- It’s often less about the legalities and more about the money
- People make expensive mistakes because they don’t make a plan
- Before you do anything, understand your rights, obligations & complexities