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Divorcing couples can save money

Arizona couples considering divorce could learn from a New Jersey couple that acrimoniously divorced after 20 years of marriage. The husband fought paying spousal support for a year, even though the wife reportedly earned 40 percent less than him. At the end, legal costs amount to roughly $300,000. Although this example is extreme, there are ways to keep costs down for a divorce.

The lawyer who handled the $300,000 divorce claimed that if couples can communicate calmly, not hide assets or income, and resist fighting about minor issues, she could manage a divorce for about $1,500 and finalize it within weeks. If couples are contentious, they can spend money and time to argue about inconsequential issues. There are some common costly mistakes that divorcing couples make, and if those are avoided, legal bills can be lower.

Perhaps the most important thing a couple can do at the end of a marriage is to be prepared financially. No matter what state they live in, they need to know how much money they have jointly and individually, the sources of income, what their assets are, and what their living expenses are. A financial planner could help by examining credit reports and financial statements and suggest different financial strategies to maximize the settlement. A mediator might help to work out differences if couples aren't flexible. What doesn't help is when the parents fight over minor issues involving visitation plans and parenting time.

In cases of high-asset divorce, a lawyer could help handle prenuptial agreements, property division, alimony and other divorce legal issues. If children are involved, a lawyer could help with child custody, child support, visitation and parental relocation. After the divorce, a lawyer may be able to help with post-divorce modifications.

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