Most divorces are a complex process that require legal filings, the services of professionals, and sometimes, a trial. All of these factors contribute to the cost of divorce.
There is no “cookie cutter” price tag on divorce, as each one is as unique as the individual parties filing for divorce. However, the national average cost for a divorce is approximately $15,000 a person. This cost includes legal fees (even for an affordable divorce attorney), court costs, and fees for other professionals to consult on taxes or child custody, or to appraise real estate.
Because much of the cost is due to fees, the time it takes to complete the divorce will affect the final cost. The average divorce takes four to 11 months, but if you go to trial, it will take longer, and the costs will be higher.
A deeper dive
There are specific factors that will impact the cost of divorce. These include:
- Whether the divorce is contested or uncontested
- The fee arrangement with your divorce attorney
- The state and location in which you file for divorce
- Your child custody and child support arrangement
- Whether either party seeks alimony
- Whether the parties would agree to mediation
To put it simply, the more issues that you and your spouse can agree upon, the less time it will take to complete the divorce, and the less expensive it will be. Even when the divorce is “amicable” (and few are truly so), there will be costs to both parties.
An uncontested divorce will cost less than a contested divorce because fewer professionals and experts are needed to be called-in to settle any disagreements in valuation or dollar amounts. To file an uncontested divorce, you ultimately will need to be in agreement with your spouse on all major issues. When an uncontested divorce decree is final (usually after a mandatory waiting period), there is no “wiggle room” to go back and renegotiate the agreement.
It’s unusual for any couple with marital assets to be in complete agreement on the value of the property or how it should be fairly divided. A good spousal support attorney will bring in any appraisers or other professionals as needed, and then negotiate a settlement. If you or your spouse are business owners or have extensive investment properties or holdings, this process will be more complex and take longer.
A mediation of divorce may save money, but there are still costs, and it is important not to mediate unless certain parameters are met. Even if mediation is used, each party should have the agreement reached at mediation by a good and experienced divorce attorney. Mediation is when you and your spouse agree to use the services of a professional mediator, who is a neutral third party.
You might choose to have a collaborative divorce, which is when the two parties each hire an attorney, and everyone meets to negotiate the parts of your divorce that are contested. Even with an affordable lawyer, the costs will include legal fees, but you will save the cost of going to trial.
Thinking about divorce but wondering whether you can afford it? Contact our Chester County family law attorneys at Perna & Abracht, LLC who will be happy to provide answers to your questions in an initial complimentary consultation.