Divorces are expensive, even under the best of circumstances. While the national average cost for a divorce is around $15,000, that figure can go up — or down — dramatically depending on what you and your spouse decide to do.

What’s the No. 1 thing that you and your spouse can do to lower your divorce costs? Communicate openly, honestly and fairly with each other and try to come to an agreement on as many different issues as possible before you consider heading to court. If you’re lucky, you’ll actually find a workable solution to all of your issues and be able to file for an uncontested divorce.

What are the issues you need to discuss? Make sure that you and your spouse talk about:

  1. Spousal support: Is it an issue? How much should be paid? How long should it be paid?
  2. Parenting plans: Equally-shared physical custody is often preferred, but it isn’t right for every family. You’re free to negotiate any arrangement that works as long as you’re in agreement.
  3. Health insurance: Who is paying the health insurance for the kids after the divorce? Who will pay for co-pays, medications and other expenses?
  4. Property: What marital property do you and your spouse need to divide? Is there any property that you don’t think should fall into that category? Can you agree on who keeps what? Don’t forget to address real estate, pension plans and life insurance policies — all of which may have significant value.

The more that you and your spouse can navigate through these agreements, the easier it will be to tidy them up and create a fair divorce agreement in consultation with your attorney.