I've been ask this question on many occasions. It is one of the first things a person wonders when considering divorce. How much is it going to cost me to get a divorce? The first thing anyone considering divorce should know is that divorce is about dollars and cents. Once the legal divorce process is set in motion, the emotional aspects of the divorce take a backseat to attorney fees and court costs.
Both spouses normally pay their own legal and court costs upfront. You can have your attorney request that your spouse be responsible for all or a portion of those fees and costs. In some situations, it is commonplace for a judge to order one spouse to pay the legal costs of the other spouse.
For example, if you have been a stay at home mom and your husband files for divorce, your husband is in a better position financially and would suffer less financially if he paid all or a portion costs related to the divorce. Who pays the costs associated with the divorce will also depend on who has the best attorney. A great reason to not skimp when hiring an attorney.
Below are some issues that will determine the cost of a divorce:
- Whether your divorce is adversarial or collaborative. The more you and your spouse are able to agree on the less you will spend on attorneys, legal fees and court costs. If it is at all possible to discuss and come to terms on such issues as child support, child custody, division of marital property you should do so. I will mean saving the major portion of the expenses incurred during a divorce.
- How much you pay in attorney fees. It is always in your best interest to hire an experienced attorney who is willing to fight for your legal rights. If you get lucky, you will find one willing to do this without charging outrageous fees. Most though are quite expensive but worth the money in my opinion.
- If you and your spouse battle over custody of the children. In a custody battle you may incur fees related to psychiatric evaluations. If the court appoints a Guardian Ad Litem, you will have that expense. Your attorney may want to call expert witness, which will be an added expense. Not to mention that a custody battle means more work for your attorney who will probably be billing you by the hour.
- How many marital assets and debts there are to deal with. If there has been an accumulation of large amounts of marital property and debts your attorney may want to hire a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, a real estate appraiser or pension funds expert. That is all added expense that you will be expected to help pay for.
- The legal strategy of your attorney and your spouses attorney. If you or your spouse hire an attorney who believes the only way to win in divorce is to become aggressive or adversarial you are going to end up paying for their attitude. Just keep in mind that you have final control over how your attorney handles your divorce case. It is always your right to fire your attorney and move on to one who is willing to fight for your legal rights in a reasonable manner.
In the end, it is up to you and your spouse how much your divorce will cost. You can work together and try to settle all major issues outside the courtroom or, you can leave it up to the attorneys and judge and pay the expense of not being able to put your difference aside and save some money.