As family law attorneys, we are constantly asked, “How much does the average divorce cost?” The truth is, there is no such thing as an average divorce. Cases involving millions of dollars in assets can cost less than a case where there is only a small amount of money, depending on whether the couple wants to fight or if they are more agreeable. Cases with attorneys who provide their clients with realistic expectations of the outcome in the divorce will cost less than those where attorneys promise their clients the moon. The cost will depend upon many factors, and certain costs are inevitable, but there are certainly ways for you to keep the cost down:
- Be prepared for your meetings with your attorney and their staff.
- Be available to answer phone calls and respond to your attorney promptly. These may seem obvious, but the fact is that many clients are not available and do not respond in a timely manner. If we need to keep calling you, following up, and hounding you for information, the costs increase.
- There are some things that are out of our control, including who your spouse chooses as his/her attorney. How quickly a lawyer responds, how reasonable their requests are, and how often we need to file motions to get what is required from the other attorney, are all factors that will affect costs.
- Your emotional state. While we understand that divorce is an emotionally challenging time and we are here to answer questions and support you, we are not therapists. Counseling is often helpful at the time of the divorce to assist you through this difficult time.
- If you and your spouse are able to communicate your costs will decrease. If you can agree on terms and can agree on most of the issues in your divorce (such as spousal support, child custody, child support, and the division of property), you will spend less money on attorneys and court fees.
- If you have significant assets or your financial situation is complicated, your divorce may be costly as it may be necessary to analyze the financial information. If money has been hidden or dissipated, forensic accounting will be necessary and is costly. Professional appraisals of real estate and other assets will be necessary if you and your spouse cannot agree on values. The more there is to argue about, the higher the costs.
- In many contested divorce cases, the parents can’t agree on a plan for the children. In such a case, the courts will often appoint a “guardian ad litem,” an independent lawyer whose job is to represent the children’s interests. The guardian’s fees are paid by the husband and wife. In cases of abuse or neglect, the appointment is mandatory, and in other cases it is discretionary with the court. This adds a layer of costs.
It’s important to remember that divorce is still litigation. Once the emotions are taken out of the situation, you need to do what you can to obtain the best resolution and to protect your children.
For questions about this or other family law matters, please contact the attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C.