“Winning” in divorce is all about figuring out what you want.
Some spouses want to maximize the amount of money they take away from the divorce. Others want to make sure they can spend a lot of time with their children.
Some people simply want to complete the divorce process as quickly as possible. Once you figure out your goals, then think about these tips on how to win a divorce.
Be careful about your legal fees
Surveys show that a quarter of Americans have no savings at all, and only 18% have an emergency fund to survive five months if they lost their job.
In other words, most couples have very little to fight over. Depending on where you live, a decent divorce attorney could cost anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour.
A couple with few assets could easily wind up giving all their money to their lawyers instead of actually splitting it up between themselves. If you spend more on lawyers than you “win” in the divorce settlement, then you did not actually win.
There are many ways to control legal fees in the divorce. Legal aid organizations can often help or at least provide you with a roadmap to do it yourself at no cost. Online companies like Legalzoom can often get a couple through the process for less than a thousand dollars.
Some lawyers are also willing to work jointly for both spouses to help them negotiate an agreement and then have it approved in court.
The key to most of these less-costly options is that the couple must usually work together.
Understand what you are fighting for
You should go into the divorce process with a clear idea of what you and your spouse own.
In other words, you need to understand the size of the overall pie in order to fight for your slice. Many spouses have a poor understanding of what their spouse is doing with the money. For example, it is not unusual for a divorcing person to have no idea how much their spouse has in retirement savings.
If you want to know how to win a divorce, you have to understand that you have a right to information on your spouse’s assets and it is best to get that information yourself or from your spouse voluntarily rather than paying a lawyer get the information through court.
Understand your kids’ needs
Many parents do not realize that a court might listen to a child’s wishes. This will vary with age.
A court is much more likely to listen to a 16-year-old than a five-year-old. Many judges are required to order evenly-split joint custody in a normal situation.
Other judges have more leeway.
So if you are in a situation where you could win full (or better than 50/50) custody, remember that the court is always looking out for the best interest of the child. The parent that has a house set up to accommodate the child’s hobbies or that is more supportive at school functions might fare better in the custody battle.