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How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

Statistics show that divorce rates have declined for the last decade. Still, approximately 600,000 Americans get divorced yearly, translating into over $11 billion in costs.

If your marriage has reached an irreparable state, the only way out is to file for divorce. Besides the psychological toll a divorce has on individuals, the greatest concern of those going through one is usually the cost.

No one figure fits all in the cost of divorce because all cases are unique. Factors that increase the cost of divorce include cases where children are involved, the stakes in the divorce, such as properties owned by the divorcing couple, or whether the divorce is contested.

Type of Divorce Matters

The most straightforward divorce is a no-fault divorce. Under a no-fault divorce, divorcing couples do not need to give a reason for their divorce. This means the pair will not have to spend money and time proving the causes of the divorce.

All states recognize no-fault divorces. However, some states will allow you to choose a no-fault or fault-based divorce. In most cases, couples will choose a fault-based divorce when there is bad blood between them and will use the fault on the part of their ex-spouse to get the upper hand in the outcome of the case.

Unfortunately, this option can result in protracted legal battles that can take years to conclude, significant legal fees, and a huge psychological toll on all parties involved, including children.

Legal Fees

Most divorce lawyers charge hourly fees, which will depend on the lawyer’s experience, state, and the complexity of your case. These hourly rates can range from $150 to $500, translating into enormous figures in the long run.

It is possible to have the total fees amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, the average cost of hiring a lawyer can range from $7,000 to $15,000, where divorce is not highly contested.

Areas that can result in contention in a divorce include child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, and alimony.

Uncontested Divorce

Finding a resolution through other means may be the better choice if there is still some trust between you and your soon-to-be ex-partner. For example, you could agree on all the contentious matters beforehand and go for a non-contested divorce. If you choose this approach, you may not need to work with a lawyer.

The only costs involved will be official fees, which may not exceed $1000. However, if there is a lot at stake, such as child custody or significantly high-value property, getting a lawyer for specific parts of your divorce can be a good idea to help ensure both parties’ rights are upheld.

Mediation and Collaborative Divorce

If a purely uncontested divorce is not an option, the divorcing parties can consider other options to cut the cost of a divorce, such as mediation and collaborative divorce.

In the mediation option, divorcing couples can hire a solicitor to help them iron out contentious issues. In most cases, you will need to pay a case assessment fee and ongoing fees for the mediation, but the overall cost will be a small fraction of what you would spend on a lawyer.

The collaborative option involves using a divorce lawyer. But instead of resolving the contentious issues through litigation, the lawyer acts as the mediator, where they help you reach a settlement that you then enter into court. This way, the court process becomes much shorter, and the costs are significantly lower.

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