Going through a divorce can be one of the worst experiences of your life. Getting a great lawyer is the first step to making it better. While I rarely recommend that you should “do it yourself,” there are tools out there to help you get through things in a constructive way. Instead of sifting through the millions of apps in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, I’m going to break this down into the most useful ones.
#1: Our Family Wizard
Communication problems are one of the biggest factors that lead to divorce—perhaps the biggest factor. When you aren’t able to effectively communicate with your spouse, there is an impact on your children. Think about how hard it is to navigate school, doctors, appointments, sleepovers, soccer, basketball, medical bills, and homework while you were together! A divorce can magnify that difficulty in an already stressful situation.
Our Family Wizard doesn’t fix the issues between you and your spouse, but it gives you a better way to communicate about your children. There is a built-in custody calendar, holiday schedule, “expenses” exchange, and other features that will help lower the stress that child custody disputes cause. The app lets you put all communication in one place instead of trying to find old text messages, emails, etc., between you. You can give your attorney access to the app so they can also monitor communications. Our Family Wizard is constantly improving the app, such as adding a “Tone Meter” to let you know when your messages need to be rewritten! From a judge on their website:
So many of the disputes that bring families back to court time and time again involve communication breakdowns. OurFamilyWizard.com provides families with an excellent communication vehicle that when used regularly, should substantially reduce the need to come back to court. More important, regular use should help reduce the level of animosity between parents that can be so harmful to children. Even families not involved in court proceedings should benefit from OurFamilyWizard.com. It is an effective tool that allows parents to plan and implement. . . .”
Check out all the features at https://www.ourfamilywizard.com/families.
#2: Budgeting Apps
Pick your favorite, but this is a key piece to getting through divorce and coming out stronger. Many spouses going through divorce have never dealt with their own finances and budgets. Now is the time to start, along with getting a good financial planner (before the proceedings are over, not after!).
One I use personally is Mint (mint.com and available on the App Store or Google Play). Mint lets me enter all my bank, credit card, investment, and retirement accounts and auto, house, and other loans into one place. It automatically updates all of these on a daily basis so I can see what money is coming in and going out of various accounts. This is important for multiple reasons:
- You need to start keeping track of your own finances.
- You don’t need to look at this every day, but having everything in one place is very helpful.
- This will give you a snapshot that your lawyer can use to help you manage your settlement.
- You can start the budgeting process for your new life and see how far on- or off-track you are with spending.
- You can also see where all of your dollars are going.
There are many alternatives to Mint, so pick the one that’s best for you. Some examples are:
- Personal Capital: https://www.personalcapital.com/financial-software/mobile-app
- YNAB (You Need a Budget): https://www.youneedabudget.com/our-app-lineup
- NerdWallet: https://www.nerdwallet.com/l/app
#3: Child Support Calculator
At this point, every state has some law firm, entity, or other organization that has created a child support calculator. Get it. They are all free. All of the state child support issues have some sort of defined calculation to deal with child support. This means for the vast majority of cases you can figure out what child support will be by plugging in the numbers. I created a child support calculator based upon North Carolina’s state guidelines, which you can download here. The “official” state calculators for North Carolina are at https://ncchildsupport.com/ecoa/cseGuideLines.htm. They yield the same results as mine, except you get to download mine.
Using one of these calculators can take some of the guesswork out of your case and empowers you to be more informed walking into your attorney’s office, a mediation, or the courtroom. You can start developing your own expectations (and budgets). It’s your life, so take control of as much as you can. You are going to care the most about your own case compared to anyone else in the world!
This app is different from Our Family Wizard in that it helps you track actual child support and alimony payments while also tracking expenses such as child care, health insurance receipts, and other items for children. To me, the key features are again related to communication: This puts all divorce-related communication with your (ex)-spouse in one place so you don’t have to go digging through texts and emails. The price of this app is definitely worth it if you have child support and alimony issues to track. By the way, if you want to use only “limited” features, the price is a whopping $0.00! Learn more at https://supportpay.com.
#5: An “Inventory” App for Your “Stuff”
There are many apps out there for this particular category. Here’s why you need it: One of the most contentious pieces of divorce is who gets “the stuff” and what “the stuff” is worth. While you can certainly take an Excel worksheet and itemize everything, a picture is worth a thousand dollars in this case.
These apps will prompt you to take pictures of all the things in the home and put a value on them. You can even add purchase prices (if you remember). This will provide you an easy way to demonstrate the evidence to your attorney or the judge, if you are forced to go to court.
Get an app before you leave the house and use it. Some examples are:
- Sortly: https://www.sortly.com
- Binary Formations: https://binaryformations.com/products/home-inventory
- Nest Egg (iOS only): https://nestegg.cloud
- EBTH (Everything but the House): https://www.ebth.com
- Encircle: https://www.getencircle.com/inventory
#6: Meditation/Relaxation/Antistress Apps
You probably need a counselor/therapist if you are going through a divorce. You need friends. You need family. You need all the support groups you can get. You also need something that will not talk back to you, like a relaxation app.
If you do not address the mental toll that divorce takes on your life, all the negativity will likely build up inside you and cause unexpected harm. Deal with it constructively. Here are some apps that might help you sleep better or just get through an extra-tough day. Try one or all of them until you find the right one for you:
- Headspace: https://www.headspace.com
- Happify: https://www.happify.com
- Calm: https://www.calm.com
- Sattva: https://www.sattva.life
- Aura: https://www.aurahealth.io
Listen: You do not have to become a yogi. The point is to acknowledge and get rid of some of those bad thoughts spiraling in your brain. Clear out those thoughts so you can make way for better ones.