According to Debt.org, the average cost of divorce today is $15,000 per person. The total cost includes court fees, attorney fees and fees for other professionals, including accountants, real estate agents, tax consultants and the like. Though the cost of divorce per couple varies greatly based on how contentious a separation is and the amount of assets a couple has, any person going through a divorce should take steps to prepare and to minimize the financial stress.
The soundest financial advice one can receive in the face of divorce is to identify all debts. Parties should request a credit report that details all separate and joint debts and the amount of each. This report will also inform one party if the other obtained a debt in his or her name and without his or her knowledge or consent.
In addition to checking credit reports, parties should also close any joint accounts. If that is not possible, they should call each creditor and request that all accounts be frozen until the divorce is final.
NerdWallet also shares advice to help couples prepare for the financial fallout of divorce. Once parties learn that divorce is inevitable, they should begin to track household expenses and income. Doing so will not only help parties create a post-divorce budget, but the expense reports can also prove useful when it comes time for the judge to divvy up assets and make support determinations.
Parties should also be conservative about saving and spending. On the one hand, they do not want to overspend, as the judge may view excessive spending as the depletion of marital assets. On the other, the courts may view over-saving as an attempt to hide assets.
Individuals should refrain from making major financial decisions post-divorce. “Major financial decisions” include changes involving life insurance policies, wills, retirement accounts and the like.
Finally, and most importantly, individuals should gather the documentation necessary to tell the full financial story of the couple. Documents include at least three years of tax returns, bank account statements, investment account statements, retirement account statements, credit card statements, recent pay stubs and a list of all marital assets and debts.