When beginning the divorce process, many people consider the cost of the actual divorce – mediation services, lawyer fees, paperwork costs. But what you may not have considered is the importance of establishing and documenting budgets pre- and post-divorce.
Before the Divorce
You could say there are two types of people: those who establish a budget that they follow using paper or financial management apps, and those who keep it in their brains, cross their fingers, and hope to avoid overdraft charges. If you’re the app type, you’re in good shape with a historic record of what your family spends in a given month or year. For the brain type, you may need to do some financial forensics to establish your income and cost of living at least 12 months back.
Why? This information is crucial for establishing need when it comes to alimony and child support. A budget record should show not just income and monthly expenses like rent/mortgage, childcare costs, car and credit card payments, and utilities, but also periodic costs like car maintenance, college or private school tuition, seasonal sports or activity costs for children, and medical, dental, or orthodontic costs.
It’s also important to back up this information with pay stubs or tax statements, bank statements, mortgage bills, utility bills, and credit card statements. If you and your soon to be ex spouse disagree on some of the details, the paperwork will provide unassailable proof of what it really costs to maintain the family home and raise your kids. These records could even inform temporary support during the divorce proceedings.
Budgeting for the Future
With these past and current costs in mind, it’s time to consider how your income and expenses will change after the divorce. For example, housing costs may double, incomes may change, and childcare costs could shift. In the past, the family may have gotten by with a single car but now two are necessary.
Without an estimate of post-divorce income and expenses for both sides, the settlement and support you negotiate in divorce mediation may not be realistic or sustainable. With historic family budget and estimates of your changing circumstances, you’ll begin mediation on solid footing.
Budgeting for the Divorce Itself
You may also be concerned about putting the actual divorce into your budget. A divorce doesn’t have to be as expensive or painful as pop culture presents. When you choose to pursue your divorce with a divorce mediator instead of lawyers, the fees are often quite less. At South Bay Mediation, we offer a free consultation and can help you estimate the total cost. We offer flat rates for a set amount of mediation hours, plus paperwork costs, and can set up a payment plan in some cases.
Get the Help You Need at South Bay Mediation
Rather than having two attorneys going head to head, we provide calm, unbiased mediation services and solutions that will help guide you to a divorce mediation agreement that will best work for both of your budgets. Contact us today for a consultation.