How much can a divorce cost?

Here is an interesting article in Huffington Post about the cost of divorce using different processes.  The authors do not quote any sources, so it is difficult to tell how reliable their numbers are.  However, from my experience their ranges seem about right in relative terms.  Committing to be non-adversarial is by far less expensive than the adversarial approach.  And, in many cases, you should be able to get a fair result, without spending a fortune, by using a non adversarial process.

Amazingly, people will spend a lot of money arguing about things to punish their spouse or “for principle”  – spending more money that the issue is really worth.  Sometimes using the litigation approach is necessary – because one (or both) of the parties is being unreasonable, they cannot communicate, trust has completely disappeared, mental health issues, hiding assets or income, abuse, etc.  But,  for many people, however, the adversarial/litigation approach is an unnecessary and expensive complication to an already difficult life transitional event, and often makes it much more difficult for the children because of the additional conflict it can generate for the parents.  I often recommend to people to try mediation first, consulting with attorneys as needed, to see how it goes.  If mediation is not successful, then you can escalate to collaborative, cooperative or litigation.  I think that most people would like to make their own decisions, rather than rely on a third party (Magistrate or Judge) to make life decisions for them.

I have had a number of clients who tried litigation and then came to me,  after spending $100,000  (really!) on legal fees, to resolve the remaining issues through mediation and help them complete their divorce. Sure, by then they were weary of the fight, fed up of the litigation process, and tired of the attorneys not getting things finished.  But they then had $100,000 less for themselves and their children.

Sadly, when people considering divorce talk to friends and family about their impending divorce, they rarely will hear about the success stories, but rather hear the horror stories about bad experiences others have had.  The divorce process does not have to be horrible.  The professionals you hire should be there to help you through the process,  and to make the process easier, not make an already challenging life event even worse.

If you both want to have a dignified divorce, you can.  First, you have to have a positive attitude about coming up with a fair agreement for each of you and most importantly, what is best for your children.  Second, you need to choose, and manage, any professional assistance you hire to make sure they follow your wishes to have a dignified and non adversarial divorce.  Third, you should agreed  some mutual goals about the process and what you want for each other and your children.  Fourth,  see it as a business transaction – not a way to remedy what went wrong in the marriage.  Fifth, getting educated on the law, your financial situation, the options, and the consequences of potential solutions is important.  This allows you to negotiate and make decisions from a basis of knowledge and strength.  Finally, don’t make agreements unless you fully understand them and believe that you making the optimal decisions for yourself, your spouse and your children.  If you need to consult with an attorney, or need help in negotiating your agreement, then, by all means, get the help you need.

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One Response to How much can a divorce cost?

  1. Michaela Phillips says:

    As a loan originator I have worked with many clients coming out of a divorce. I agree that using a mediator is financially the best route to take. Mediators typically know other professionals in the community that they can refer their clients to; financial planners, loan originators, realtors, etc. Working with professionals that have experience with divorce issues is key to a smooth transition. Thanks for sharing Steve!

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