When couples start thinking about divorce, one of the first questions they have is: How much does a divorce cost? This is the most common question we hear, and understandably, people are frustrated with our answer: “It depends.”
Unfortunately, every divorce is different, and some can involve complex issues, and multiple factors can dramatically affect the cost making it difficult to estimate the total cost.
The average divorce cost in the United States is between $10,000 and $20,000. But again, this estimate is just that, and every divorce is different. In a complex divorce, it is not uncommon for the cost to exceed $100,000. The factors at work include whether or not the parties can reach an agreement amicably, how much work will need to be done to determine all relevant facts, how complex is the marital estate, and whether or not the case is assigned to a particular court. Additionally, opposing counsel hired by your soon-to-be ex-spouse and also dramatically impact the cost.
While the numbers can be intimidating, as a client, you do have some control over how much a divorce cost you. Being proactive in providing information to your lawyers, compiling and organizing it, and being reasonable and following your lawyers advice can dramatically reduce the amount of time and litigation necessary, and accordingly this can keep fees and costs at a reasonable level.
Unfortunately, divorce can be very emotional, and sometimes parties are blinded by their emotions. Our experience has taught us that we must be firm with our clients and telling them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. We understand it is difficult during a divorce to follow the legally and financially appropriate advice when principle seems to be most important. Nevertheless, based upon our combined almost 50 years of experience in family law, we are well able to manage client expectations and to give good advice while remaining empathetic and loyal to our clients as they go through what is likely the most difficult situation they will ever face.
As to specific costs, as stated, every case is different. Sometimes it is necessary and complex or highly contested divorce is to hire experts to deal with issues regarding valuation of assets and child custody evaluations. The cost of employing these other professionals often dramatically increases the cost of the divorce.
The best way to manage the cost of your divorce is to educate yourself as early as possible with regard to your rights and obligations. Anyone considering divorce should consult an experienced family law attorney. Be prepared at that consultation to share as much information as you can regarding the income of each spouse, the assets and debts of the marital estate, all expenses, and all facts relevant to your children. An experienced family law attorney will be able to provide you a roadmap and advice, and more specific information regarding the estimated costs of the divorce.