DIY Divorce: Knowing Your Personal Value Before You Go All In

By Douglas Katz – 08/15/2023

Divorce is a challenging life transition that demands careful consideration not only of emotions and legal aspects, but also of time management and financial decisions. Valuing your time during a divorce and using this figure to make informed, value-based decisions on when to hire help and when to tackle tasks on your own can significantly impact the process’s efficiency and outcome.  With a little effort and simple match you can calculate the value of your time, compare it to the cost of hiring professionals, and use it provides insights to make well-informed choices.

Calculating the Value of Your Time:

To make informed decisions about outsourcing divorce-related tasks, start by calculating the value of your time. This process allows you to gauge the true worth of an hour you spend working, encompassing not only your base salary but also the broader aspects of your professional life. Let’s walk through an example step by step:

Step 1: Begin with Your Base Salary Start by identifying your base salary – the amount you earn annually before any additional benefits or bonuses are factored in. This forms the foundation of your hourly value calculation.

Step 2: Factor in Additional Financial Benefits Consider any financial perks your job provides. These might include bonuses, incentives, commissions, or allowances. Include the total sum of these additional benefits to your base salary.

Step 3: Include Health Insurance and Retirement Contributions Add the value of health insurance contributions made by your employer on your behalf. Additionally, if your job offers retirement contributions or a pension plan, factor in the employer’s contribution to your overall compensation.

Step 4: Evaluate Time Invested Consider the time you invest in your job beyond regular working hours. This could include responding to work-related emails, attending meetings, or completing tasks at home. Estimate the extra hours you dedicate to your job each week.

In this example:

  • Salary
    • Base Salary: $60,000
    • Bonus: $5,000
  • Benefits
    • Health Insurance: $4,000
    • Retirement Contribution: $2,000
  • Extra Time Invested: 5 hours per week

Quick Math

  • Salary – $65,000
  • Benefits – $6,000
  • TOTAL – $71,000/year or $5,916.66/month
  • Regular Hour – 40/week
  • Additional Hours – 5/week
  • TOTAL – 45/week or 180/month

YOUR TIME IS OBJECTIVELY WORTH ~$32.88/hour

Step 5: Account for Future Earnings Potential Think about the potential for salary growth and career advancement in your current position. If you expect your earnings to increase over time due to promotions or raises, estimate these future earnings and include them in your calculation.  While this seems odd as part of your analysis, remember that time spent on non-work activities can drop your overall productivity.  In many cases, this can be by a figure of over 50% and this can erode your future competitiveness and marketability.

Step 6: Assess Non-Monetary Benefits While not easily quantifiable, non-monetary benefits such as job satisfaction, work-life balance, and personal growth are essential. Think about how much these aspects contribute to your overall job satisfaction and well-being.  In a divorce, this can also equate to self care and being available and engaged to impacted family members like children.

Putting It All Together:

By summing up all these components, you arrive at a comprehensive understanding of the true value an hour of your time holds. This figure serves as a valuable reference point when assessing whether to handle divorce-related tasks personally or invest in professional help.

By following these steps, you can gain clarity on what your time is worth, enabling you to make well-informed decisions about outsourcing tasks during your divorce proceedings. Remember, the value of your time extends beyond just the dollars earned – it encompasses the complete spectrum of your professional worth.

Understanding the Cost-Benefit Analysis:

With your calculated hourly value in hand, you can perform a more accurate cost-benefit analysis for each divorce-related task. This analysis empowers you to make decisions that align with your priorities and financial well-being:

  1. Complexity and Expertise: Assess the complexity of the task and your familiarity with it. Legal matters, financial assessments, and property division often require specialized expertise that professionals can provide.
  2. Time Investment: Estimate the time required to complete the task. Compare this time investment to your hourly value. If the task’s time requirement is substantial and your hourly value is high, it might be more economical to hire a professional.
  3. Emotional Impact: Consider the emotional toll of certain tasks. Negotiating with an ex-spouse or dealing with intricate legal paperwork can be stressful. Hiring professionals can alleviate emotional strain and allow you to focus on self-care.
Examples of Divorce-Related Tasks:

There are a lot of tasks related to divorce and there are some great frameworks for ensuring that you address all of them readily available on line.  For simplicity’s sake, I have generalized into three categories.  Applying the cost-benefit analysis to common divorce-related tasks can guide your decision-making process:

  1. Legal Documentation: Preparing legal documents involves intricate language and specific requirements. Hiring an attorney may prevent costly errors, especially if legal expertise is not your forte.
  2. Financial Assessments: Valuing assets, calculating alimony, and determining child support demand financial knowledge. If financial matters aren’t your expertise, consulting a financial expert might save both time and potential financial missteps.
  3. Property Division: Equitable property division requires careful consideration and negotiation. Professionals like appraisers or mediators can expedite this process, ensuring a fair outcome.
Comparing Costs:

To compare the cost of hiring professionals against the value of your time, perform a straightforward calculation, but it needs to be an honest one.  This is why you spent the time in the beginning of the exercise to determine your value and believe me when I tell you that it is enlightening to many clients when they see in black and white the cost of trying to save money.

Take this housing for example:

If the task of researching housing options and doing a full analysis takes you 20 hours and your hourly value from the original example is $32.87, your time is worth $657.41. If a professional service, like The Divorce Housing Pro, costs $450, it is without a doubt be a prudent investment to hire them. Especially when you consider the long-term and non-monetary benefits, such as avoiding mistakes, securing favorable outcomes and having appropriate time for self-care and family member support.

Don’t Walk Over Dollars for Dimes

Valuing your time during a divorce is a multidimensional approach that involves understanding your worth beyond a mere paycheck. By calculating the value of your time and performing a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, you equip yourself with the tools to make strategic decisions. While some tasks can be managed independently, others benefit from professional expertise. The choices you make impact not only your financial situation but also your emotional well-being. As you navigate this challenging phase, remember that investing wisely in professional help can lead to a smoother, more efficient, and ultimately more satisfactory divorce process. In the end, it’s not just about the dollars saved; it’s about securing peace of mind and a brighter future.