The answer to the question, “How much does a divorce cost?” is a resounding ‘it all depends’. It depends on how much you want to fight and how much you want to spend. Traditional litigation is typically the most expensive way to get a divorce. Mediation, wherein a neutral third party who facilitates conversations regarding disagreements in order to assist parties in reaching agreements can lessen costs. Collaborative Divorce, where the couple works together with their respective attorneys as part of a team to creatively resolve their issues instead of fighting each other in court, can resolve significant issues in a more cost-effective manner. Here are some suggestions for managing the cost of a divorce.
Pre-Divorce Legal Counseling Can Save Money
Before filing for divorce, you will need to make sure you know all relevant financial information and understand the legal implication. This can minimize the time you will later need to spend issuing discovery requests or possibly dealing with experts. Consulting with an attorney before you file for divorce will ensure that you understand your rights and responsibilities and are ready to file. Filing a petition with the court before you are fully prepared results in a more costly process.
Why Litigation is the Most Expensive Divorce Process
Litigation is an adversarial process. The lawyers for each party prime their clients to fight. You may have two competing experts that each must be paid. Court hearings are required in front of a judge who does not know you, your spouse or your children, but has the duty to make decisions that affect the future of everyone involved and everything financial.
There are significant expenses for each court appearance, court hearing, discovery request (such as document production or written interrogatories), and deposition. Unfortunately, the judge has many cases and will have limited time to devote to delving into your family’s finances, or to determine how the parenting responsibilities and parenting time for your children should be decided. The court may order that one party gets the house, but that party may not be able to afford the house and it ends up in foreclosure. Litigation is stressful and the outcome is unknown. The longer the litigation takes, the more expensive it is.
In Mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral party who is specifically trained in divorce mediation to discuss the issues involved in your divorce. You may or may not have your attorneys present. The mediator does not provide legal advice but assists the two of you in finding common ground in finding mutually agreeable solutions to issues that you and your spouse are having trouble resolving.
In a Collaborative Divorce, you each have your own attorney, but everyone agrees to commit to resolving their issues with the help of a team of any needed professionals and/or experts, instead of fighting with each other in court. For example, a neutral financial expert can help with budgeting, division of assets, and tax implications.
A divorce coach can help with emotional and communication issues. A child specialist may be called in to help with parenting responsibilities and parenting time (formerly custody) issues. The child specialist can help you both understand the perspective of the children and what is in the best interests of the children.
The bottom line is that the more a couple fights, the more costly the divorce will be. For more information about Divorce, and your best process option (whether through litigation, mediation, or collaborative divorce), and how we can help you determine the process that best meets your needs, contact us at Bruckner Hernandez Legal Solutions.