This question is very difficult to answer in very specific terms as obviously the specific laws and requirements vary from country to country, state to state in the United States, and perhaps even jurisdiction to jurisdiction within the states. The answers provided here should be understood as general guidelines for you to consider as you traverse the difficult path of divorce.
No matter how simple or complex, short or long, amicable or challenging your marriage may have been, the process of divorce is a difficult decision upon which you might settle. In many cases, one party does not want it and therefore their aim is to make it as hard on their estranged spouse as possible. If they cannot make it emotionally difficult, then the desire is often to make the process more financially draining. This is where the knowledge that only your personal divorce attorney can provide becomes valuable, however that valuable knowledge comes at a price.
What are the real costs of divorce?
Aside from the emotional challenges that accompany the divorce process, there are the real financial costs and commitments to consider. Fees such as:
- Attorney fees: which can and often do vary by state and jurisdiction.
- Court costs: the actual cost for the court to review and process the case. These also vary by state and jurisdiction. Court cost will be determined by whether the divorce paperwork is simply processed through the legal system or if actual appearances before a judge or magistrate are required.
- If you have children from the union, there can be, again depending upon jurisdiction, parenting classes that required to be completed before the divorce is legally final. These classes usually involve a court-mandated fee.
- There can be cost for mediation, if the court so orders, or other evaluations that are required before the finalization of the marriage dissolution agreement.
These are areas are considered to be the average and normal for most every divorce situation. The quick and easy divorces that are advertised for a few hundred dollars are rare and usually are only available if the marital parties have fully agreed on the division of property or custodial demands. The quick and easy divorce is generally the amount for preparing and filing the necessary documents with courts.
If there is real estate or other property to be disputed and dispersed then the cost for your marriage dissolution will increase exponentially. Fees for these added complications can include:
- Additional attorney fees.
- Any necessary refinancing costs if one party wishes to retain the property in the divorce agreement.
- Any and all court documentation or recording fees for the property.
Most divorces will cost between $15,000 and $20,000 or essentially as much as it cost to get married in the beginning.
If you are looking to keep the cost of a divorce low then don’t get divorced and work through the issues that have you seeking an attorney’s advice. There are obviously times when the divorce is necessary and truthfully the best for the well being of both involved parties. If you fall into the latter category and are unable to resolve your differences then consider these tips to try and curb some of the costs of a divorce.
- Fully and completely understand what your agreement says. In other words know what you are agreeing too. Beyond the costs of an attorney’s fees or court costs, you must understand the potential hidden costs. Know what the hidden costs are in the tax liabilities, investments and assets depreciation.
- Work expeditiously on reaching the agreements for the divorce. By acting fast you can lower many of the attorney fees before you ever involve an attorney. The longer it takes to reach a settlement the more costly it will be to both of the involved parties.
- Furthermore, these same attorney fees will be lower if you and your estranged spouse are able to play nice and reach agreements outside of attorney negotiations. According to Chicago attorney Mike Hefland, “The more you and your spouse can work out on your own, the cheaper the divorce will be.”
- The best practice for lowering the cost of a potential divorce is actually through a pre-nuptial agreement. Very unromantic and often scoffed as a marriage built on a future divorce, a pre-nuptial agreement is the cheapest way to accomplish a divorce.
For more information check out this link on fees “Whose fee is it anyway?” from the North Carolina Bar Association.