Paying a lot of money for a divorce is the last thing you probably want to do. And with good reason. Divorce can get expensive. It can bankrupt families. Ruin lives. And steal your children's future. So it's normal to wonder how much does an average divorce cost and what are your options for getting one? Before taking a closer look, you'll first need to understand the things that impact the cost of divorce. As it can vary greatly from case to case.
4 Main Factors That Contribute to The Average Cost Of Divorce
While this list doesn't cover everything, the four main factors that impact divorce costs are:
- The divorce method and / or the professional you choose
- The state and / or county where you live
- The complexities of your case
- The level of cooperation or conflict between you and your spouse
Divorces are like snowflakes and no two are exactly alike. So when asking, "How much does divorce cost?" think about your own personal situation. And the complexities that surround it.
Average Costs For Each Of The 5 Divorce Options
Option 1: Do-It-Yourself Divorce
How Does It Work?
In a Do-It-Yourself Divorce, there is no involvement from outside professionals. Instead, you and your spouse are solely responsible for carrying out all of the steps to divorce.
How much will divorce cost if you Do It Yourself? Do-It-Yourself Divorce is your lowest cost option. The only fees you'll pay are those directly related to the paperwork and filing of your divorce.
The average cost to get divorced using Do-It-Yourself Divorce ranges from $300 to $1,500, depending on the complexity of your case and specific court and paperwork fees. No matter what, you
will need to pay court and filing fees of approximately $300, with additional costs coming from other paperwork and valuations that may be required by the courts depending on your particular situation.
Option 2: Internet Divorce
How Does It Work?
Internet Divorce is similar to the "Do-It-Yourself" Divorce option in that the couple is responsible for undertaking all of the steps to divorce.
But instead of having to pinpoint the relevant legal and financial issues on their own, a website or software program helps by identifying the basic legal and financial issues that most divorcing couples face.
How much will divorce cost if you use the Internet option? The cost to register with an Internet Divorce Service averages $300. In addition, just like each of the other divorce options, the court fees related to the paperwork and filing of the divorce range from $300 to $1,500.
So the total cost for an Internet Divorce is between $600 and $1,800.
Option 3: Divorce Mediation
How Does It Work?
Divorce Mediation is a cooperative process whereby a neutral third-party (the Mediator) knowledgeable in the laws and finances of divorce helps and guides the couple through the steps
required for divorce.
How much will divorce cost if we mediate? The cost of Divorce Mediation can range from $5,000 to $8,000 depending on case complexity and includes drafting and court fees.
Option 4: Lawyer-Driven (Litigation)
Please note: This is an oversimplified description of how a Lawyer-Driven Divorce works. In reality, there are many more steps involved and the steps vary from state-to-state and county-to-county. In addition, the process itself may vary significantly from state-to-state and lawyer-to-lawyer.
How Does It Work?
In a Lawyer-Driven Divorce, one or both spouse hires a lawyer to help them complete the steps required for divorce. But unlike a mediator, who is neutral and works for both spouses, a lawyer can only represent one spouse. For this reason, the lawyer's job is to advocate for the one spouse that hired them with the goal of attaining the most favorable outcome for their client.
How much will divorce cost me if I hire a lawyer? Divorce lawyers charge for time, which means that the client will receive a bill for every communication the lawyer undertakes on the client's behalf. That includes, but is not limited to: every phone call, e-mail, letter drafted, meeting, court appearance, etc.
Lawyers for divorce average cost ranges from $200/hour to $500/hour. To start, most lawyers require an initial retainer of $3,500 to $10,000 per spouse depending on the complexity of your case and how well you and your spouse get along. The retainer is only the beginning for most people.
Costs for a standard Lawyer-Driven Divorce can range from $15,000 to $32,000. Costs for a divorce that goes to trial vary, but can range from $78,000 to $200,000 per couple.
Option 5: Collaborative Law Process
How Does It Work?
The Collaborative Law Process (also referred to as Collaborative Divorce) is a hybrid between lawyer-driven divorce and divorce mediation. Each spouse hires his/her own lawyer trained in the collaborative process to represent them. A series of meetings take place between both spouses and both lawyers and possibly other outside professionals as needed to negotiate and try to come to agreement on the issues.
How much does average divorce cost using collaborative process? A Collaborative Divorce varies in cost depending on the needs of the parties and the other professionals involved. Fees range from $25,000 to $50,000 depending on case complexity, the cooperation level between the parties and the number of outside experts engaged in the process.
How Much Does The Average Divorce Cost? It Depends...
As you learned, the answer to the question, "How much does divorce cost?" can range from $300 to $200,000! It all depends on your situation and the divorce method you choose to get your divorce.
After reading this post you may be tempted to choose the cheapest option. After all, a divorce is a divorce, right? Not necessarily. Divorce is very personal to the individuals experiencing it. Every situation is different and there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution. Just because a particular divorce method worked well for a friend or co-worker, there is no guarantee it will work well for you. Conversely, if a particular option may not have worked for someone else, it doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a viable option for you. It's important to take the time to research all of the options and how they compare to each other. And not just to use the cheapest option. There's too much at stake.
Equitable Mediation specializes in helping divorcing couples negotiate a fair settlement and divorce peacefully and cost-effectively – without lawyers.
For more than 20 years, Equitable Mediation Founder and Divorce Mediator Joe Dillon has been helping individuals, couples and corporations mediate a myriad of complex issues and intractable problems by utilizing his expertise in negotiation, finance and interpersonal relationships.
For more than 20 years, Co-Founder, Divorce Coach and Co-mediator Cheryl Dillon has been employing her background in psychology, human resources and life coaching to help individuals overcome obstacles to achieve their goals and reach their fullest potential.
Joe and Cheryl are passionate about helping couples avoid the destruction of attorney-driven litigation and know first-hand that the right information, combined with the right expertise and the right kind of support can make the challenging process of divorce less expensive, less time-consuming and less stressful for divorcing couples and their children.
Equitable Mediation serves clients in New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York and California.
Joe and Cheryl can be contacted by phone at: (877) 732-6682
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