I do not know a lawyer who has not had a potential client come in and ask this question: How much is this going to cost?
It’s a legitimate question. After all, you do not get divorced all the time. You have heard horror stories from friends, family and co-workers. When you are getting divorced, you are worried enough about how you are going to survive after everything is done. There is only so much money to go around.
As a lawyer, I know it is hard to give you an answer. We do not have a time machine or ability to predict the future. Most of us have seen divorces that cost very little and divorces that cost a lot. After meeting with you for maybe thirty minutes or so, there is no way we can tell you exactly how much you will spend on your divorce.
What I can tell you is much of the cost is dependent on you and your spouse. If you and your soon-to-be ex are committed to resolving your differences in a way that is beneficial to you and your family; that you are willing to cooperate; and that you are willing to work through a process that will give you both greater control over your outcomes it is likely you will save yourselves in attorneys fees and other professional costs.
If you are comfortable meeting with your partner in a neutral location utilizing a facilitator to assist in your negotiations, mediation may be right for you. Mediation requires you both to be honest with one another and that you make complete disclosures of your assets, income and other pertinent information. Those couples who work through their divorce in mediation often find that they spend less than what they would have in a litigated(court) divorce. In some cases, the cost difference can be significant.
Another option for divorcing spouses is collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce is a process where both you and your partner agree not to litigate. The collaborative process, like mediation requires you both to put all your cards on the table. The difference is in a collaborative divorce, you both have trained attorneys who assist you through the process. You may also have a divorce coach, financial neutral or others assist you in coming to an agreement. Because you are working together outside of the courts, costs typically are less than the average court divorce.
Even in a litigated divorce, your fees do not need to break the bank. If you are able, you can work out some of your issues (like holiday schedules, dividing the household contents, etc.) on your own and have the attorneys or the court assist you with issues you cannot work out. Even little things like providing documents or other information that has been requested to your attorney in a timely matter can reduce your final bill. Many times divorces that end up being very expensive are due to one or both parties not cooperating or taking unreasonable positions.
To sum things up – divorce does not have to be expensive. If you and your partner are motivated to settle your differences without going broke, you can divorce in a way that will allow you to work together towards a better future for you both. And you will both find you are happier with the outcome while keeping that money in your pocket.