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The True Cost of Divorce
Let me preface this post by saying, it makes my heart heavy to post topics like this. However, I know and love so many of my readers and I realize this is a real concern and true financial burden that weighs on them or loved ones. I want to try and help you understand the best you can what’s involved with getting divorced. It’s never an easy choice and it’s always an extremely difficult time in everyone’s life. My heart goes out to those of you struggling through this decision or process.
No one goes into a marriage planning for divorce but the truth is, it happens. Sometimes people change, situations change, or other things occur that cause one or both parties to want out of the marriage.
Divorce is never an easy or fun place to be in but the facts are, it happens to a lot of people. Whatever the reason your marriage isn’t working out, if you’re asking yourself just how much a divorce will cost, you’re probably getting conflicting reports. It’s bad enough you’re going through a breakup in the first place but then to have to pay for it, too… well, that really stings.
You may have heard about big-ticket divorces of celebrities going into the billions but what about the rest of us? What about the ordinary folk? Well, it’s hard to put an accurate number on that but we can give you an idea of what to expect.
First, you need to determine the type of divorce. Will it be mediated? Will you hire a divorce attorney? Are there children involved? Are you arguing over how to split the assets? Next, you need to consider the state you live in and how complicated the divorce is.
How much does divorce really cost?
A mediated divorce can cost between $1,000 and $7,000 on average. If you’re hiring a divorce attorney, the fees vary based on the state you reside in, the attorney you choose, and the complexities of your case but you can expect it to start with at least $5,000 and many divorces go well over $10,000. Hourly rates for a divorce attorney can go from $100/hour to well over $650/hour. The fees also vary according to the services you receive. Some options are:
- Full representation – The attorney handles everything and you just sign on the lines
- Partial representation/ limited scope – Your attorney will handle some parts of the divorce (such as child custody or alimony) but not all of it, reducing your fees.
- Consultation only – You meet with an attorney who gives you advice and/or prepared documents but they do not represent you.
When considering the costs of divorce, you have to look at how long the divorce takes – the longer it goes on, the more expensive – and also the issues that are usually covered in a divorce. These may include:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Alimony/ spousal support
- Division of debts
- Division of property
- Attorney’s fees
- Claims of reimbursement
- Breach of fiduciary duty
The more of these issues that need to go to trial, the more the divorce will cost you. If you can solve some of these issues in mediation, or if they don’t all apply to you, then you will be able to keep some costs down.
It helps to understand the various stages of the divorce process so you can see where the legal fees are going. Here are the basic stages of a typical divorce litigation:
Stage One – Pleadings
Stage Two – Financial Statements
Stage Three – Motion
Stage Four – Examination/ Cross Examination
Stage Five – Case Conference of Pretrial
Stage Six – Trial
At the end of the day, there’s much more to it than just the court fees and attorney fees. In addition to these fees (which do make up the bulk of the costs of divorce), you also have to consider things like missed work time due to going to court or meeting with attorneys or mediators.
You may also have to pay refinancing costs, record deed fees, and other expenses based on how you divide property and assets during the divorce. There may be costs for child care as well as for transferring titles to vehicles and other property. Who pays these fees and what portions they pay will also be figured up within the divorce proceedings.
If there are no children involved, the divorce is uncontested, and there are no disagreements over property and assets, you might be able to do your divorce without an attorney, or with limited attorney involved. In this case, you won’t have to spend as much. The cheapest you can expect to get by with a divorce is filing yourself and representing yourself and you will pay only the court fees and potential fees for having your spouse served.
When talking about the true cost of divorce, it’s also important to remember there is more involved than just monetary costs. No matter what the reason for the divorce, it is an emotional process. If you have children, there will be an emotional toll on them as well. Be sure you take the time and the proper steps to seek help with this. You don’t have to go through it alone and there are services available to help you through this difficult time. Stay strong, seek help when needed, and everything will work out in the end.
I recently posted about recovering and healing from a loss, this certainly fits into this category. In this post you’ll find how to start looking at your finances, addressing the elephant in the room.
Remember, we are here for you, questions, support, or just need to vent, contact me.