The average cost of divorce in the United States is $15,000. The good news is that the cost of a divorce can be managed just as you manage a household budget. That being said, if you have assets and want to protect those assets your first concern should not be getting divorced as cheaply as possible. When it comes to getting a divorce, you may have to spend money to save money.
Going after a “cheap” divorce may have both short-term and long-term consequences. When negotiating the division of property, retirement benefits or the issue of spousal support it will pay to pay…if you know what I mean.
How much your divorce costs depends on the route you take when getting a divorce. Below are the four main ways of obtaining a divorce:
- Divorce Court:
If you and your spouse are unable to mediate and come to an agreement on such issues as property division, child custody or spousal support your next step will be divorce court. This is when it gets expensive. You will both hire attorneys and other experts to advocate for you in court. There will be court fees and filing fees to pay. You will pay your attorney by the hour and the cost of that depends on what area of the country you live in.
If you get lucky you will both hire attorneys willing to work together to reach an agreed settlement. If you aren’t you will become the victim of adversarial attorneys who will drag out the divorce and when this happens costs become excessive.
Divorce mediation is an effective alternative to court litigation for resolving disputes that come up as two people divorce. A mediator, acting as an impartial third party, helps couples work through the issues of their divorce to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. This is a voluntary process which allows couples to retain control over the outcome of their divorce without hiring attorneys and going to divorce court. The only cost associated with a mediated divorce is the cost of the mediator, fees paid to have an attorney review the agreement and filing fees with the court.
- Do It Yourself/Pro Se Litigation:
Pro Se divorce litigation means you are representing yourself in your divorce case, without an attorney. The procedures that you must follow are the same if you are Pro Se, except you will be responsible for filling and filing out all the legal forms. The only costs associated with Pro Se Litigation are filing fees and court costs should you go to divorce court and represent yourself.
- Collaborative Divorce:
In a Collaborative Divorce there will be two attorneys, two Collaborative Coaches, a Divorce Financial Specialist and if you have children a Child Specialist. Although Collaborative Divorce can be expensive, in the long run it is far less expensive than a long, drawn out litigated divorce. During the Collaborative process, you pay each specialist their own hourly rate but there are no court fees or filing fees associated with the process.