What is the Real Cost of Divorce?
Facing a divorce isn’t easy, and you probably have a lot of different concerns. One of those concerns is certainly the cost of getting a divorce. And with good reason — Business Insider reports that the average divorce in the United States today costs a whopping $15,000 per person. That said, there are a lot of different factors at play, and your own divorce could end up costing well under the average or even thousands over.
Fortunately, you can control some of the more important factors and help keep costs to a minimum. This will, in most cases, require cooperation with your soon to be ex-spouse. But with both parties making active decisions to keep divorce proceedings moving smoothly, the process can be one that doesn’t break the bank.
The Process Matters. Specifically, the cost of a divorce is directly affected by whether Mediation, Collaborative Divorce or Litigation is chosen as the process. Mediation is done using professional mediators to resolve the cases and saves on the costs of going to court, but the success rate is only about 50 percent. That said, mediation can be particularly cost-effective for short marriages that produced no children or elderly couples with adult children or no children, where child custody is a not an issue.
By comparison, Collaborative Divorce has a roughly 90 percent closure rate. Its efficiency and higher closing rates makes the cost a less risky choice for most clients.
Litigation is where the highest costs of divorce occur. Court fees arise in addition to the cost of attorney meetings and consultations, and this isn’t even including the cost of an actual ending settlement. When children are involved, litigation may cause additional custody hearings, which drives the cost even higher. It’s also worth noting that even when both parties believe they are fully prepared for the litigation process, the truth is that they probably don’t agree on a lot of items making the courtroom even more expensive. Complicating matters even further is the fact that the majority of sitting judges do not actually come from family law backgrounds, and therefore have a different view of divorce cases.
Of course, sometimes one party (or even both) will not agree to Collaborative Divorce or Mediation, leaving Litigation as the only alternative. It is important to try to reach at least some agreements outside of court (such as custody or division of valuable possessions) in order to trim time and costs.
The bottom line to controlling the costs of any divorce case begins with the divorcing couple. Fighting is more expensive, collaborating saves time and money and ultimately means that more money ends up on the bottom line for each spouse instead of paying the lawyers.