Your divorce, regardless of process will not be free. While a free divorce is impossible you can self manage many of the costs of your divorce. In my work as a financial neutral working with couples and individuals going through divorce there are five key tips I have observed that can help clients reduce the financial and emotional costs of divorce. Do everything possible to minimize conflict with your spouse Divorce is not without conflict. Conflict is expensive. The greater the conflict between you and your spouse the more your divorce will cost in terms of money and in terms of emotional wear and tear. If you and your spouse can openly and respectfully discuss what you can agree to and seek help to work through the issues where you have differing opinions the financial and emotional costs can be reduced. You will save money and time when you put your heads together to resolve your differences instead of butting them against each other. Get organized and be prepared If possible, work together with your spouse to gather all financial records necessary for any divorce process. This includes but is not limited to statement copies for everything you own and everything you owe to someone, tax returns including W-2’s, paycheck stubs, bank accounts, credit card accounts, retirement accounts, other investment accounts, insurance information, mortgage and other loans, and information concerning employer provided benefits. Consider putting together a 3-ring binder or electronic file folders containing each of these items. Your divorce decree requires the itemization of every asset and liability. It is foolish, costly, and to your detriment to not be fully open and transparent with your spouse. Being organized, open and completely transparent will help reduce costs. Establish and communicate expectations Communicate clearly with the professionals you are working with while at the same time listening carefully to the professionals you do engage. Consider this a two-way dialogue and recognize that you probably do not know what you do not know. Your divorce professionals have the expertise and wisdom to guide you through this difficult time. The wise professionals want to do this in a timely and cost effective manner. Beware of the so-called professionals who promise to get you the best deal. Best deals come at a price both financially and emotionally. Identify your needs and interests, and those of your spouse Whenever possible discuss these with your spouse in an open and respectful manner recognizing each of you will have unique needs and interests. You and your spouse will also have shared needs and interests. Needs and interests are not positions. Needs and interests are the underlying reasons and factors why something may be so important to you or your spouse. A position is more like a demand or a must have without stating any particular reasons. If your spouse seems locked into a position, ask them why this particular issue is so important to them and listen carefully for the underlying reasons. If you can find a way to satisfy those reasons, you are on the road to resolution. Collaborate, compromise, and cooperate Ask yourself, if you make every decision a battlefield how do you think your spouse will respond. Drawing lines in the sand will only isolate you and make it harder to reach agreements not to mention cost a lot more money and take more time. Remember you got married together and you and your spouse will get divorced together one way or the other. You and your spouse get to choose how. Every divorce and family is unique and comes with its own set of circumstances. The complexity of the relational, financial, and legal issues of your divorce along with the ability of you and your spouse to follow these five tips will ultimately determine how long your divorce will take and how much it will cost. Choose your process and your professionals wisely. Check out this link to learn more and find out if a collaborative divorce is right for you. For more information and resources check out my website under the about us section at www.integrashieldfinancial.com. There you will find a video featuring actual collaborative divorce process clients, a divorce knowledge kit, resources for those with children, and a link labeled Collaborative Divorce with Dignity and Respect.