One of the most common myths surrounding separation and divorce is that you need a lawyer.
If you are looking to save money on your divorce, you have several options.
In this article, I will explain what they are so you can make an informed decision based on your unique circumstances.
HOW TO SEPARATE WITHOUT A LAWYER
THE DIY DIVORCE
Depending on how well you are able to negotiate and work with your ex, it is possible to do the whole process yourself.
You will need to be amicable and be able to communicate effectively in order to reach a decision about:
- The split of the family’s net assets (what you own less what you owe)
- Property arrangements
- Child custody arrangements
You can then lodge the necessary documents with the Court yourselves which will save lots of money. The Family Court of Australia website has plenty of information to help you with this.
The disadvantages to this approach are that you need time and motivation to educate yourself about the process. Plus you must remain amicable with your ex-partner from beginning to end. If your communication breaks-down, you will need professional support.
Divorce using a lawyer
There are circumstances where you will need a lawyer for a divorce or separation. This is usually in situations concerning child custody disputes and abuse.
However, if this does not apply to you, it is important to know that a lawyer can only act for one party. This means engaging two lawyers (one for you, one for your ex) will doubles the cost and further reduces the share of net assets to be split.
It is worth know that family lawyers often pay (which means you pay) accountants and other financial experts to compile a list of your assets which further increases the costs you will need to pay. Recent studies show that the average cost of separation using lawyers is approximately $50,000 for each party.
There are many great family lawyers out there, but there are also many unscrupulous ones whose business model is to drag things out for as long as possible so that your family’s net assets end up in their pockets rather than yours.
Use a specialist accountant for your divorce
A mid-way option between DIY and a family lawyer is to use a specialist chartered accountant. Here at Beanstalk, we highly recommend Divide – Simple Financial Separation.
Such an accountant would work with you and your ex-partner as a team to agree on a split of your family’s net assets, as well any many other decisions to be made during the separation process. All information is shared equally between the parties so that everything is transparent and one party is not disadvantaged.
And the best bit is: If you do not want to be in direct contact with each other during the process, it can all be done on email.
This approach of acting for both parties means it is significantly cheaper than lawyers. Depending on how quickly you can provide your financial information and how much of the work you do yourself, the whole process can cost as little as $5,000-$10,000 (+ court lodgement fees of approximately $1,000) for both of you.
The below steps give you an idea of how this particular process would work.
- Meet/speak with a specialist separation accountant to discuss your personal situati
- Sign an engagement letter
- Pay a small deposit ($$)
- Start collecting your financial information
- Provide specialist separation accountant with detailed financial information for each party
- Detail any other issues for consideration such as future needs, earning capacity of each party and the impact of children (if any)
- Agree a % and asset & liability split
- Document and sign what has been agreed
- Pay balance owing to specialist separation accountant
- Lodge with the Family Court
- Wait for review and approval by Family Court
- Once approval is received, complete practical matters related to the settlement (such as transferring superannuation/loans/property to the other party)