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How Much Does A Divorce Cost?

28th July 2020 Print

Most newlywed couples never foresee divorce in the trajectory of their marriage. However, unexpected life events, financial difficulties, and added stressors such as children and promotions can pry any legally-committed couple apart. As time passes, change is inevitable. Some types of change can be harder to deal with than others and may result in divorce proceedings. 

When it's time to face the realities of divorce, you’ll want to know what to expect to ensure your financial and mental well-being stays intact during the entirety of the process. Without the right preparation and research, unexpected costs may arise. Wondering how much your divorce will cost? Here’s how to calculate the total cost of your divorce proceedings. For the most accurate calculations, it’s best to speak with an experienced lawyer, like the ones you’ll find at wh Law in North Little Rock.

How much will a divorce cost?

When it comes to the national average, you can expect to pay around $15,000 to divorce your spouse. This cost covers the actual divorce proceedings, but won’t cover any sort of settlements or alimony payments you may be expected to make. This $15,000 average cost will include:

- Attorney Fees

- Court Fees

- Expert Fees (appraiser, tax advisor, child custody evaluator, etc.)

In most cases, the amount of time spent in the divorce process will directly impact the total amount of money that you pay out. You can expect the average divorce process to take anywhere from five to 12 months. However, if there are disagreements on specific assets or childcare, a trial can take longer than a year to complete, resulting in escalated costs. 

What factors influence the price?

While you just learned what the average divorce will cost in the United States, that $15,000 calculation is simply an average. Your divorce could cost more or less depending on several factors. These factors include:

- Mediation

- Alimony

- Child custody evaluation

- Location of court filing

- Lawyer (hourly vs. retainer)

- Contested vs. Uncontested

What most soon-to-be divorces don't realize is that a divorce is a type of lawsuit. In matters of separation, you're essentially suing for compensation. So, this process may garner fees similar to other types of lawsuits that you can file as a registered U.S. citizen.

A mutual agreement can lower the price

One important factor in determining the cost of your divorce is the level of agreement you and your spouse have reached. When you and your spouse settle disputes on your own time and come to an agreement beforehand, the cost of divorce will be kept fairly low. 

The more time a legal representative has to invest in trying to resolve major issues like child custody and property maintenance, the more legal fees you’ll rack up. If you're capable of reaching an agreement on child custody and the distribution of assets in a civil matter, then you and your former spouse should make an attempt for the sake of your financial well-being.

When you and your ex agree upon major issues, you can file for an uncontested divorce. Essentially, an uncontested divorce is one where both parties aren't fighting or resisting the divorce. There are no disputes, financial or otherwise, that bog down the court procedures. 

In an uncontested divorce, you don't even need the assistance of mediation or a lawyer to file this document if you’d prefer to handle the divorce on your own terms. This type of divorce costs about $500 or less to file, depending on your state of residency. Once the mandatory waiting period elapses, you'll officially be divorced.

How are lawyer fees charged?

If you and your spouse can't agree on major issues, such as child custody or alimony, then you’ll require the assistance of an experienced lawyer. This lawyer will charge you either a flat fee or a retainer fee. When charged a flat fee, you can expect to pay anywhere between $150 to $300 per hour of their time/labor. Realize this is time will include the time spent discussing legal matters with you, negotiating with the other party, and filing paperwork.

Your lawyer may not charge a flat rate. Instead, they may charge a retainer fee. This is a set amount of money that you must pay upfront for the work to be performed. Many retainer fees will cover the filing fees, correspondence, court hearings, and personal consultations. Think of a retainer as mainly a one-time, all-inclusive fee. This type of fee is usually for those husbands and wives that don't have a large number of assets or businesses that must be dealt with through the divorce proceedings.

Is mediation a good option?

If you and your spouse can't agree upon the major issues like alimony, then you may want to try mediation first. This is where you'll be assigned an independent third-party to help you both resolve these issues. Mediation helps you to avoid trial and provides you with an outlet to discuss the specifics of your divorce with a neutral party. The cost of mediation will vary depending on how long it takes. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 for mediation fees.

Final thoughts

Considering the possibility of undergoing a divorce is a big decision. Knowing how to handle the process and what your options are can help to ease the tension of the unknown and protect your financial well-being. It's always best to see if you can agree upon major issues first. If not, then consulting a skilled lawyer will likely be necessary.