Divorce Costs – How To Save Time, Money And Trouble
It has been said that a divorce will cost as much as you can afford. Of course, the true cost of a divorce depends on many variable factors and not all of them are financial. The emotional toll of a divorce can be just as draining as the legal fees are to your bank account. When contemplating the monetary cost of an impending divorce it is usually best to separate your emotions from the finances. Instead, treating your divorce as a calculated business transaction can help you save time, money and trouble.
Saving money on the costs of divorce is not a trivial matter. With most divorces in the United States costing an average of $10,000 to $30,000 today, reducing the cost of your own divorce can be critically important to your future. Other than filing and paperwork fees, most of the money spent on a divorce usually goes to the attorneys. If your divorce requires you to utilize an attorney you can bet that the more complicated your case is, the more expensive it will be.
A contentious divorce necessitates the use of lawyers in order to make sure issues like property division, child support and alimony are handled in an equitable fashion. If one spouse hires an attorney to contend the issues, it is a sure bet the other spouse will need to hire a lawyer too. With attorney’s hourly fees currently averaging between $100 and $500, along with up-front cash retainers ranging from $500 to $10,000, the bills can add up very quickly. With that much cash changing hands, it is little wonder that divorce has become a big business, creating a $30 billion annual industry in the United States alone.
The easiest way to cut down divorce costs is to simply try to get along with your spouse. If a couple can agree on major issues like child support, child custody and division of marital property, they will spend far less on attorneys, legal fees and court costs. A custody battle alone can result in additional costs to pay for witnesses, psychiatric evaluations, guardians and extra attorney hours. The least expensive option is to work with your spouse outside of the courtroom to settle your differences instead of leaving it up to the court and attorneys to settle matters for you.
Mediation is an option that can help save money in a divorce. Attorneys that are also professional mediators can facilitate negotiations between spouses and help them to complete their own paperwork, greatly reducing the number of hours billed on the case. A mediator’s hourly rate may be the same as a divorce attorney’s, but the number of hours billed will be far less. A mediated divorce without any big surprises will usually cost less than $5000 total.
For couples who don’t have disputes over children or a vast estate to divide, there may not be any reason to hire attorneys. If both parties can agree on who gets what, the simplest and cheapest option may be to handle the negotiation and paperwork by themselves using an online divorce forms service. Good online forms services offer a variety of divorce information and services, along with exact, state-specific legal forms to get the job done for a few hundred dollars or less. You can file the papers with the court yourself, or have an attorney file them for you as a one-time service that costs far less than a full-case representation would.
Keeping the Cost Down -
- Separate your finances prior to the divorce to prevent liability for debts caused by your spouse.
- Communicate and negotiate openly with your spouse or you will have to pay someone else to do it for you.
- Aim for long-term solutions not immediate or temporary victories when making decisions.
- Be open-minded toward creative solutions to property and asset division, not everything is best split in the middle.
- Have realistic expectations about money, dividing a household makes both parties worth less cash.
- Be reasonable in court, getting angry or aggressive might feel good but it will only cost you more time and money.