Divorce is generally a source of a lot of stress. The cost of divorce is frequently at the top of people’s minds, especially when their children are involved. However, another pertinent cause for concern in the process is that of finances, and how costly the divorce itself will be. Unfortunately, there is no single answer to the question of how much a divorce will cost, as there are so many factors involved in arriving at the final number.
Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to knowing how much a divorce will cost.
Common Causes For Expenditure
Couples frequently disagree on critical subjects in their divorce, particularly child custody and support, alimony, and dividing marital property and debts. Financial disputes over these issues are the most common reasons for expenditure in the process. If you and your spouse can’t reach an agreement fast enough, your lawyer will have to spend time on the procedure known as discovery—searching for and exchanging financial information, taking depositions, and gathering other evidence.
If your spouse does not provide required information, or if either of you file for a temporary custody or support order, the attorney will also have to prepare motions and attend court hearings.
It will also take your lawyer a long time to negotiate a settlement agreement, and if that doesn’t fully address the issues disputed, further hours to prepare for a divorce trial and court representation. The kind of divorce you obtain makes the biggest difference in the cost.
An uncontested divorce is appropriate for couples who agree on everything about the divorce, such as:
- How marital property and debts are divided.
- The amount and length of spousal support.
- Parenting time, responsibilities, and child custody.
In a contested divorce, the spouses are unable to reach an agreement on these issues, and therefore must bring the case before a court, where the judge will be responsible for deciding on their divorce terms.
In a contested divorce, each spouse will have their own attorney. These cases require more planning and negotiation. In addition to filing documents with the court, both attorneys must also prepare for the case by taking depositions from the other party’s witnesses and hiring experts to investigate and analyze financial records. Attorneys may be required to travel to obtain documents or to appear in court.
General Expenses And Fees
Of course, the hourly fee of a lawyer won’t reveal how many hours will be needed to finish the case.
On top of attorney fees, there are additional expenses associated with both types of divorces. The costs include filing and service fees for attorneys and court personnel and fees for services such as appraisals and property inspections.
Filing fees for example, are a common cost overlooked by prospective divorcees.
The fee for filing a divorce varies from one jurisdiction to the next, but it is generally around $150 in Wisconsin.
Spousal support is another cost associated with divorce. The paying spouse (often the husband) will pay spousal support until the receiving spouse (often the wife) remarries, if she has no income or if her income isn’t enough to meet her needs. Spousal support is tax deductible to the paying spouse and reportable as income by the receiving spouse. If your divorce involves spousal support, it will require more time from your attorney.
Another financial concern when getting divorced is child custody and support. If you and your spouse are unable to agree on a custody arrangement, the court will make a decision for you.
If you are ordered to pay child support, the amount is based on a number of factors, such as:
- The paying spouse’s income.
- The number of children being supported.
- The age of the children.
- The cost of health insurance for the children.
Preparing Financially For A Divorce
If you anticipate a divorce, there are some things you can do to prepare financially. First, make a list of all your assets and debts. This will help you understand the financial implications and scope of the divorce.
When you are aware of all your debts, you will know how much income you need to maintain the same standard of living after a divorce. Listing your assets can also help determine how much property division may be necessary.
Next, try to come to an agreement with your spouse on as many issues as possible. This will save both of you time and money. If you and your spouse can’t agree on everything, you may want to consider mediation as a way to settle disputes. Mediation is a process where both spouses meet with a neutral third party, called a mediator, who helps them reach an agreement. The mediation process is usually less expensive than hiring attorneys or going to court. In order for this to work, however, both parties must be in agreement on all of the terms of the divorce.
If you have children, be sure to understand how child custody and support will be handled in the divorce. The amount of child support you will have to pay will be based on a number of factors, such as your income and the cost of health insurance for the children. If you’re ordered to pay child support, make sure you have enough money set aside to cover those payments.
Knowing what to expect when it comes to the cost of a divorce can help you better prepare for what’s to come with it. Being aware of the factors that affect the cost can help you make more informed decisions about your divorce, and therefore make it as manageable as possible.
There are many fees and expenditures associated with filing for divorce. These costs can be significant, depending on where you live and what is needed to finalize the divorce. Working with an attorney who specializes in family law can help reduce these costs and in making the endeavor as efficient as possible.