Does Divorce Cost A Lot Of Money?
Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. You should call Ascent Law for your Free Consultation to discuss the details of your situation with a divorce attorney. You know, this is a common question usually asked by most couples who contemplate divorce. I will outrightly say that divorce certainly costs a lot of money depending on the nature its nature. Most of the cost are normally associated with the legal fees and the settlement fees such as alimony , child support and division of property.
Apart from the emotional cost, financial costs are really frustrating. The cost of divorce may lead to a lot of straining on the average family. Factors such as divorce method, the county or state in which you live, complexities of the case and level of cooperation between you and your spouse may either escalate or bring down the costs.
Payment of court costs and legal costs are what makes divorce to cost a lot of money. In addition to this, you will have to pay experts to testify on your behalf especially concerning the assets that you had with your husband or wife. You may need to hire tax advisors and forensic accountants to find out where your spouse is hiding assets, not forgetting financial experts.
There are several divorce options including:
First option is to work with an independent third-party mediator to help you and your spouse come to a divorce settlement agreement. Mediation can be pursued with the help of a lawyer or, in some cases, without the couples having a lawyer representing them, although this is not advisable.
Mediation is a method of avoiding litigated divorce. If you and your spouse cannot agree on custody, support, how assets and property should be divided, or any other aspect of your divorce settlement, then mediation can be a far preferable alternative to going to court and having a judge make decisions for you.
Mediation helps you and your spouse work out your issues and come to an agreement on your own. You don’t have to present witnesses or make arguments in court, and you don’t need to hire a bunch of experts either. Instead, you come together with your mediator, and your mediator facilitates an open and honest discussion that helps you to agree when you otherwise could not.
A mediator does not order either of you to do anything, and does not make decisions for you. If you are both committed to being reasonable and avoiding litigation, having a mediator can be the tool that allows you to do that.
Once you have worked out your settlement agreement with your mediator, you and your spouse or your attorneys can simply go forward with a simple uncontested divorce in court. You have to pay for the cost of the mediator, as well as for court costs, filing fees, and whatever legal fees you incurred during the mediation or when preparing the papers.
In some cases, mediation is ordered by a court (such as in custody disputes), but if you opt for mediation on your own as an alternative to litigation, you can expect to pay around $3,000 to $7,000 for the mediated divorce, including the hourly fees charged by the mediator. Although this seems like a lot, it is far less than the ,000 to ,000 average cost of a litigated divorce.
A collaborative divorce is similar to mediation except that you work with an attorney or other professional who specializes in collaborative divorce, rather than working with a mediator. Like mediation, the goal of collaborative divorce is to avoid litigation by getting you and your spouse to agree on the essential issues in the divorce.
When you pursue a collaborative divorce, you still have to file for divorce in court and pay filing fees, and you and your spouse still have your own divorce lawyers. However, you should be able to work out your differences much more quickly than in litigation and avoid the costs and legal fees associated with a protracted courtroom battle.
With a collaborative divorce, your collaborative divorce expert helps you and your spouse to communicate openly and honestly and work together to come to an agreement on custody, assets, and support.
The more committed you and your spouse are to working together, the less time you have to spend with your attorneys and the collaborative divorce expert. This also makes your divorce less costly. Most estimates suggest that a collaborative divorce costs between 20% and 40% less than a litigated divorce, depending on how cooperative both spouses are.
Mediation and collaborative divorce differ because mediation involves sitting down with a third-party mediator in a room and going over your issues, while collaborative divorce involves each party having his or her own collaborative divorce attorney.
The attorneys negotiate in an ongoing process to determine the best possible outcome. Each attorney represents the interests of his or her client, but also works towards a collaborative agreement, rather than working from an adversarial position.
3. DIY Divorce
A DIY divorce is the least expensive method. If you obtain the papers from the court yourself, complete them, and submit them yourself without legal representation or without purchasing prepared “divorce kits,” then your costs are limited to the filing fees. Beware if you do this that you could mess it up. The truth is, doing your own legal work is like doing a root canal on yourself. You may not do such a great job.
These vary by state. Of course, what you save in money, you may spend in time. You need to figure out all of the required forms and learn how to complete them properly so you don’t inadvertently delay the proceedings. You also need to resolve every single issue with your spouse yourself regarding assets, support, and custody, and create your own divorce agreement outlining your decision.
4. Divorce Kits
If you want a DIY divorce but aren’t sure what forms you need or how to find out, you can purchase a divorce “kit,” a prepared packet of the divorce forms you need in your home state. These are available from a variety of local and online sources, but if you go this route, make sure you actually buy the forms from a licensed attorney.
Buying from paralegals or unlicensed “divorce experts” may not be a wise move, as the forms might not be up-to-date or complete. The cost of buying these types of prepared packets of forms varies, but they can usually be obtained for $200 or less.
Remember, when you purchase a prepared packet of divorce forms, you buy the forms only. You do not receive any legal advice or any help from an attorney to make sure they are prepared correctly.
This means that it is up to you to prepare the forms correctly and to make sure that you don’t agree to an unfair custody agreement or asset division that you’ll later regret. You also have to pay court filing fees.
5. Flat-fee divorce
Flat-fee divorces are simple divorces offered by attorneys for a flat rate. Typically, when you choose a flat-fee divorce, you and your spouse work with one attorney who takes care of assembling the forms and preparing the court paperwork.
Your attorney isn’t going to help you negotiate issues of custody, support, or asset division, and isn’t going to give you legal advice beyond simply helping you with the procedural steps.
Flat-fee divorces are typically offered by attorneys at a relatively low rate. Depending on where you live, attorneys may advertise flat fee divorces for as low as 0 or less (this covers legal fees; court filing fees are normally extra).
However, remember that this buys you bare-bones legal representation, and no one is looking out for your rights. This can be a better choice than a completely DIY divorce since at least you know the paperwork is being filled out correctly and that you are following the procedural rules for divorce in your state, but it still leaves it up to you to figure out the terms of your divorce.
Arbitration is another alternative to a litigated divorce, although it is very different from mediation and collaborative divorce. Unlike either mediation or collaborative divorce, arbitration involves asking a third party (the arbitrator) to make a binding decision about the issues in your divorce. You and your spouse must essentially present much of the same information that would be presented in a litigated divorce, and the arbitrator makes a binding decision that you both have to stick to.
The benefits of arbitration are that the process is often less formal than litigation, and it can take less time for an arbitrator to hear and decide a case than it does for a judge to do so. Again, you still need to hire your own lawyers, and you must pay divorce filing fees – the purpose of arbitration is just to get the issues of property, custody, assets, and support worked out.
You are, however, able to keep your personal information from becoming public record, which is not an option when you go to court.
You have to pay a fee for a professional arbitrator in addition to the fees for your lawyers and the court filing. The fee for the arbitrator may be as much as $3,000 to $4,000 per day. Still, since arbitration can be quicker than litigation, you can save greatly when compared to the cost of a litigated divorce.
For those seeking divorce, one of the best things you can do is think of your divorce as a job. The more professionally you conduct yourself, the better the outcome — at least in terms of your checkbook.
As Copp summed it up: “I’ve always compared a divorce action to a wagon with four wheels: two parties and two lawyers. If any one of the wheels is off, the whole thing grinds to a halt.”
Other expenses associated with divorce
1. Getting a job
You will have to go on with your life after divorce. The first thing is to find a job if you did not have one. It costs money to get a job. If you have been out of the workplace for a while you may have to pay to get additional training or education to improve your resume or your skills.
You may need to get a new certification or degree. While that can help you earn more money in the long run, it still costs money now. Even if your education and skills don’t need an upgrade, you may need to have a new look. If you want to get a good job, you’ve got to look good at your interview.
Finally, when you’ve gotten the job, you have to look presentable everyday when you show up. In addition, once you have a job, you will likely have to travel to and from work. All of those things cost money.
2. Money to pay a therapist
Divorce takes a huge emotional toll on everyone involved in the process. It is hard on you, your spouse, and your kids. While, hopefully, everyone will adjust eventually, you, your spouse and your children may need help along the way.
That means therapy – and therapy, too, costs money. Thankfully, your medical insurance may cover at least a portion of the cost of therapy. But if you exceed the allowable number of visits that your insurance allows, or your insurance doesn’t cover the cost of therapy, then you may find yourself having to budget for this expense, too.
At the same time, investing in therapy may actually save you money in your divorce.The number one driver of divorce costs is your emotions. So, what you lose paying for therapy you may gain back in lower legal fees.
3. Getting a health insurance
When you are married, you, your spouse, and your kids typically share one health insurance policy. Once you are divorced, that ends. Most health insurers will not continue to cover you on your spouse’s insurance policy after you are divorced. Since it is typically cheaper for both spouses to be covered by one insurance policy than it is for each spouse to have his/her own policy, getting divorced usually means that collectively your family will pay more for health insurance.
While you may think that health insurance shouldn’t be a problem because you can just go through COBRA, that is not necessarily true. While COBRA insures that, in cases where COBRA applies, you can continue to get insurance through your spouse’s employer after your divorce, it has nothing to do with your cost.
When you get insurance through COBRA you have to pay both your portion of the insurance premium and the employer’s portion of the insurance premium. Generally, that means that COBRA ends up costing you more.
4. Paying tax as an individual
If you file your income taxes as married couples filing jointly, you will usually pay the least amount of income taxes. Once you divorce, you have to file your income tax return as a single person.That typically means that you will pay income taxes at a higher rate than you did when you were married.
What’s more, with all of the recent tax law changes, the income tax consequences of divorce will likely be even greater now than they were before. Plus, you also have to consider capital gains taxes when you’re divorcing.If you and your spouse own any stocks, bonds, or other investments, and you sell all or part of them in your divorce, you may be facing capital gains taxes.
The same thing will be true if you withdraw funds from a retirement account to pay your divorce expenses, or to pay off your spouse. While you can transfer money between your retirement account and your spouse’s retirement account in a divorce without creating a tax consequence, to reap that benefit you have to make sure that you transfer the money in the right way. If you screw it up, you may find yourself with a hefty tax burden you didn’t see coming.
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