We have all heard stories from friends or relatives about how expensive filing divorce can be. With some constructive planning and a different perspective, filing for divorce does not have to leave you broke or force you into bankruptcy. For people researching how to get a cheap divorce in California, there are many self-help resources and options available to allow a couple to inexpensively complete the California divorce process and avoid making the wrong decisions along the way.
Secrets of How to Get a Cheap Divorce in California
1. Don’t Focus on What You May Be Entitled under California Laws
When a client asks me “what am I entitled to” my typical response is, “You are entitled to whatever you and your spouse agree to.” People going through divorce who focus on what they are “entitled” to are setting themselves up for a big fight with their spouse. I would rather urge a couple to each take a look at what they are willing to agree to than what they may be entitled to. This viewpoint creates a more amicable atmosphere for negotiations and settling issues. If your goal is to get through the divorce process as cheaply and inexpensively as possible, both parties will need to keep up an attitude of cooperation and be open to discuss all options of settlement.
2. Expect a Lifestyle Change
Going from a two person income to a one person income will require a lifestyle adjustment. If there are children involved, one spouse most likely will be paying the other spouse child support, and sometimes even spousal support. Although California has guidelines for child and spousal support in divorce cases, it is often better for the couple to sit down together and go over each others budget. This will give them a realistic view of what each parent’s basic needs are to support their new single lifestyle. When a couple can come up with their own agreed upon support figure, this is certainly better than one party crushing the other with a huge guideline support order that puts them in an unreasonable, unsustainable financial crisis.
If you are researching how to get a cheap divorce in California, using an inexpensive, non-attorney divorce service may cut the financial burdens of getting through the actual divorce legal process. It will not, however, eliminate the financial ramifications that will surely affect both parties who are now handling their own separate households. It is critical that both parties be willing to realistically discuss the post-divorce financial needs and abilities of each person when considering issues of long-term financial support of one party by the other.
3. Communication is Key to Keep Divorce Process Amicable
Couples who can keep the lines of communication open during the divorce proceeding are able to get through the divorce process with less stress and anxiety. If a couple going through divorce cannot communicate with each other to resolve certain issues, the only other option is to file motions and have a judge decide. In my experience, when a Judge decides the issues, usually neither party likes the result. In the end, this only costs the parties more money and creates long-term tension between them. When children are involved, the tension usually rolls over into issues involving parenting and custody. If a couple wants to get a cheap California divorce, they will need to be willing to communicate with their spouse every step of the way.
4. The Ideal Divorce Settlement
No one wins when a divorce becomes a battle scene. The ideal divorce settlement between two parties is not based on what each party can get from the other, and a fair settlement may not be “equal.” The ideal divorce settlement is what two parties are willing to agree and settle to outside of court. Nothing is harder on a person’s emotions and finances than a lengthy divorce battle. Often is it wiser for a person to settle for less than they may want to save money in the long run.
A California divorce can be cheap, however, there will always be a physical, mental and monetary cost to both parties in every divorce case. With the ideal divorce settlement, however, there should never be a winner or loser; and both parties should be able to walk away from the marriage feeling positive about their final agreement.
5. Focus on What is Important
A couple was recently arguing over who was going to get the house. Neither wanted to budge and both parties felt the house should go to them. When it was brought to their attention that the house was only worth $250,000 but had loans on it for over $350,000, their perspectives changed. They had not realized that the house, in effect, was not an asset to be fought over, but rather a liability that probably neither of them really wanted. They were looking at the situation from the inside rather than the outside.
Keeping a focus on what is really important will help people going through divorce to maintain a better perspective of the implications of any decisions they make during that process. This should help them from making the mistake of accepting a depreciable asset over an asset that will not depreciate or, otherwise, has more value. The house worth $250,000 may seem attractive but the retirement fund of $50,000 may be of more benefit down the road.
6. Consider the Tax Implications of Your Choices
There are several tax issues that couples need to discuss when filing for divorce. If a couple has children, which party will claim the child or children as a tax exemption? Will there be capital gains on real estate property? Should the couple file a joint tax return or a separate tax return for the year of their divorce? Seeking the expert advice of a CPA might be helpful when considering these issues.
7. Separating Your Finances During and After Divorce
Each party should identify all credit accounts and financial connections that may have an impact on their financial future as an unmarried person. In California, both parties are required by law to share information about all their assets and debts and give each other copies of bank statements, title documents, retirement accounts and investment funds. Gathering this information together early will make it easier to comply with the disclosure requirements.
Most couples have commingled finances. The couple should segregate any joint credit card accounts, and remove the name of the party who is not going to be responsible for payment of the debt, if that is possible. Sometimes it is better to close joint accounts. A party may be stuck with the responsibility of a joint debt if their former spouse defaults on a credit card debt or mortgage payment, becomes disabled or even goes bankrupt. Although a marital settlement agreement may require one party to take responsibility for a particular debt, this agreement between the parties does not eliminate their individual financial responsibility to the creditor.
Let A People’s Choice show you how you can obtain a cheap divorce in California with their inexpensive divorce help. If you need to file divorce in California, contact us today to learn how we can help you maneuver through the divorce process without costing thousands of dollars. A People’s Choice is a non-attorney legal document preparation service and has helped thousands of people get a divorce in California.