Getting divorced is very expensive, and it has a ripple effect on your finances that can last a long, long time. The cost of divorce includes everything from the actual filing of paperwork and attorney fees to the way assets are divided. The more amicable you can keep the proceedings, the less it will cost you.
The Cheapest Option
If you represent yourself in your divorce, you’re responsible for filing all the legal forms and pay for only the filing fees and court costs. You can do this when the divorce is uncontested, and both spouses are willing to settle. This is called pro se litigation divorce, and as long as you and your spouse agree on the specifics ahead of time, it’s just a matter of the judge signing the documents. This method is the simplest and cheapest way to handle a divorce.
Use a Mediator
If you’re not comfortable representing yourself or have disagreements to iron out, mediation is a good option. As an objective third party, the mediator can help negotiate your issues and reach a settlement that’s agreeable to both of you. Mediation is not nearly as expensive as hiring attorneys, and it’s a good way for couples to iron out problems fairly and without a long, protracted court battle.
If your situation is acrimonious, then both spouses will need to hire attorneys to bring the case to court. The fees add up quickly with upfront legal retainers and court costs. Sometimes one spouse may have to pay attorney fees for the other, depending on the circumstances. No matter how you look at it, you’re talking about high hourly fees and the potential for a lot of billable hours, especially when custody of children and distribution of expensive assets are involved. You may even have to get accountants and real estate attorneys involved, which means more hourly fees. This type of divorce is costly and takes an emotional toll of everyone involved, especially children.
The Key to Keeping The Cost of Divorce Down
If possible, you and your spouse should have a discussion about making your divorce as collaborative as you can. People often spend thousands of dollars unnecessarily because they’re fighting over every single thing. Both parties need to recognize that divorce itself is expensive, and you should work toward the goal of keeping expenses down because it will impact both of you. And when you consider the costs of two households versus one, plus tax implications, divorce is an expensive solution that you will feel for a long time.
Divorce is a difficult situation, and money can get tight, creating additional stress for everyone involved. You may need to rely on other professionals to help you get through it, such as therapists, financial advisors, and emergency loan sources, as well as friends and family.