5 Steps To A Faster, Cheaper Divorce

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sad woman at the table

Let’s face it, no one wants to get divorced. You don’t proclaim your vows and sign a marriage contract with any consideration of divorce as a future possibility.

Why? Marriage is supposed to last forever. So, what happens when it doesn’t?

It would be easy to think that divorce means failure, but it doesn't. Divorce is a necessary function of a reality that reminds us nothing lasts forever.

Everything around you is constantly changing. You're constantly changing.

So, if your relationship doesn’t grow and evolve with you, it’s time to choose a different path — and that's where things get tricky.

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Divorce is nothing more than the dissolution of a marriage contract. It’s that simple.

And yet, the process of divorce — not divorce itself — is what most people describe as the "seventh circle of hell."

From my experience as a divorce coach and mediator, I know that true success in a divorce is to get in and out as quickly as possible without personal compromise.

Positioning yourself for success means making informed decisions you are proud of.

If you're considering divorce or in the middle of it, you can approach it the smart way by following these steps for an inexpensive, expedient divorce.

Here are 5 key steps to a faster and cheaper divorce.

1. Leave the drama behind.

Divorce is a leap into the murky unknown, a complicated labyrinth tangled and clouded primarily by the emotional, financial, and legal landscapes of this process.

Creating a clear and confident emotional base is the foundation for making better decisions. And it’s important to tackle this first because, unfortunately, your physiology is working against you with divorce.

Scientifically, your mind can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s imagined.

So, when you feel threatened, your neurological stress response of fight, flight, freeze kicks in, which increases stress hormones throughout your body, shuts down executive reasoning, and lowers your cognition and access to memory.

Staying in that negative cycle will sabotage you. So, do the work to ground yourself emotionally first to gain much-needed clarity, stability, and empowerment.

2. Replace assumption and expectation with knowledge.

There’s plenty of misconceptions about divorce, so what you think you know is probably wrong. And the very real danger of moving forward based on assumptions and expectations is that, eventually, they collide with reality and are exposed as false.

But, not until after they’ve left you at the bottom of a deep, black hole with limited options for climbing out.

Knowledge minimizes fear and is the foundation for making better decisions. So, remove any assumptions or expectations you have about what's possible and find out what is realistic.

Once you’re in the legal part of this process, you really don't have that much control, and it doesn't matter how "good" your attorney is.

Guidelines and precedent will determine a lot of what is in your agreement, and a judge won't approve it unless it’s equitable for both parties.

If you don’t know the rules of the game — or even what game you are playing — how can you expect to win?

3. Lead your team.

With all the complexity and moving parts of divorce, it's important to create a support team that offers the expertise you don’t have, adds to your knowledge, and offers options for what’s possible.

Given the right knowledge, tools, and support, you will make better decisions — and you’re the only one who can. No one else can decide for you.

So, think of it this way: You’re the quarterback of this team. You’ll be calling the plays every step of the way, so you might as well get used to it.

There’s too much at stake for you to leave your future in someone else’s hands.

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4. Do the upfront financial preparation.

Before you start the legal process, doing the upfront financial preparation is critical in order to streamline and accelerate your divorce.

And that’s your goal, because time is money and if you can accelerate this process, you will save a huge amount of money in legal fees. Yet, most people don’t do this work, simply because they don’t know what to do.

So, to break it down for you, there are two key areas to focus on.

The first is to pull together all of your financial statements for the past 12 months, including monthly statements from bank accounts, retirement accounts, and credit cards.

Get a copy of the relevant financial disclosure form from your state's .gov website and start filling it out with what you know right now.

The second is to create a list of what you want in this process, so you can assess what’s possible and realistic. You don’t have to wait or pay for an attorney to tell you.

5. Try mediation first.

Have you noticed that the legal part of divorce is listed here last? There’s a reason.

The most costly mistake you can make is hiring an attorney as your first step. You won’t have the grounding, clarity, knowledge, or focus to make the legal process work for you.

And you're now dependent on an attorney, whose best interests around time and cost do not align with yours.

So, try mediation first. It's the fastest and cheapest way to get divorced. It gives you more control over the outcome because you are negotiating with each other directly.

The role of the mediator is to walk you through the process step by step. And they have to remain neutral to ensure that the final agreement is equitable for both parties and acceptable to the court.

Recent studies confirm that just over 80 percent of mediated agreements look exactly like litigated agreements, without the excessive time or money.

Most people fall into that expensive litigation trap simply because they don’t know any better... But now you do.

The bottom line is this: You have a choice.

You can let divorce pauper and victimize you… Or you can step up to own it and make it work for you. And when you do, it will make a world of difference to you, your family, and your bank account.

RELATED: 8 Steps To Divorce: Charting Your Own Course To Getting ‘Unmarried’

Laura Miolla, the founder and CEO of Smart Divorce Strategy, provides customized coaching + consulting services to minimize the emotional impact of divorce on you and your family, while creating a clear strategy to support your financial goals + legal position in court. Schedule a confidential consultation to explore how Laura can empower YOU throughout this challenging process.