Cost can be one of the biggest concerns in a divorce. You risk losing many assets after the marriage ends.
Moreover, the money you spend just on completing the divorce can be overwhelming. Sometimes, couples stay legally married just to avoid this expense.
In this article, we will provide a broad overview of your options for ending the marriage along with how expensive those options are.
This article will not focus on direct numbers or estimates. Instead, it will give you an idea of what you must pay for in a divorce.
The Cost of Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
Most expenses are directly tied to whether a divorce is contested or uncontested. In legal terms, “contested” means “challenged.” Challenging the divorce essentially means that you don’t agree with ending the marriage, and the court must make all the decisions.
Taking any matter to court is costly. You must pay for your attorney’s time, and they will spend a lot of time on your case. They will investigate your claims and your spouse’s allegations. Your lawyer must make an argument for each claim, either for or against, presenting evidence, witnesses, and so on.
Moreover, your expenses could be doubled. The court often orders one spouse to pay for the other’s legal fees. That means you’re paying for another attorney’s time, spending money on the case they are making against you. At worst, this other attorney can “churn” the case. This is an unscrupulous practice where attorneys keep introducing claims simply to draw out a case and fatten their paychecks.
The conclusion is clear, a contested divorce is normally more expensive than an uncontested one.
Uncontested Divorce Options
Depending on how you want to proceed, an uncontested divorce is usually less costly than a courtroom divorce. Here are some options for an uncontested divorce along with their expended costs.
This is the costliest of the uncontested divorce options. In this process, each spouse hires an attorney. They meet with their lawyers individually to express their needs, then everyone meets together to hash out the details.
No one “wins” or “loses” in a collaborative divorce. In fact, attorneys can recommend one another to help. Everyone works together, seeking the best solution for all stakeholders. You can even include financial experts and child psychologists to guide your decisions.
Depending on how many people you wish to include and pay, the cost of a collaborative divorce could rival the cost of a contested divorce. If you can afford it, however, you may find yourself far more satisfied with the conclusions it offers.
Mediation is like a collaborative divorce. It just has fewer moving parts. In this process, a legal professional meets with both spouses to negotiate the details of the divorce. This mediator works for both spouses, so they aren’t helping anyone “win” over the other. Good mediators can keep tempers down and move the conversation forward.
In mediation, you pay for the time you spend with your mediator. From there, you spend money on any paperwork filing costs, and that’s it.
Negotiating the Divorce on Your Own
Ultimately, the least expensive option is to do everything yourselves. You can agree on any terms you wish and pay only for the court filing costs.
This, however, is not recommended. Unless you are a legal professional, you are likely to miss an important step or decision. You may agree to something that sounds good at first, only to find out later that it doesn’t work. You should always include an attorney in your divorce, if only to make sure you do everything correctly.
Our firm is here to help you with your divorce, whether it must be contested or uncontested. For a free consultation, call our office at (347) 378-1170 or contact us online.