The Cost of Divorce

One of the first questions I am frequently asked when consulted by a client is "how much is this going to cost me?" I can quote an hourly rate as to what I am charging but the overall cost usually has a lot more to do with the amount of time being spent on a file and the result of the case as opposed to the charge per hour by the attorney. For this reason, you actually have more control over your fee and actual cost than I do.

Divorce is tough on everyone involved. It is a unique creature because it most always involves the ending of distinctly personal relationships with emotions running rampant. Despite this fact, though, the courts really treat divorces more like the winding down of a business which in an of itself creates a conflict. Simply stated, the institution of marriage involves the heart while the factors governing divorce involve the brain. The two organs do not always mix and a lot can happen as result.

Financial Issues

It is important for these reasons to be focused when confronting divorce. Divorce law has its nuances but, for the most part, it is fairly straightforward. The starting point is that both spouses get "50% of what you owe and 50% of what you own" during a marriage, regardless of the name attached to the asset or debt (there are some exceptions, but we do not need to address those here).

Child related issues, of course, can be somewhat more complicated but, in my experience, there are as many, if not more, divorces which become protracted over financial issues than child related issues. Do not let your heart decide financial issues and do not let third parties persuade you to put your emotions in charge of your pocketbook. That is a recipe for disaster and an expenditure of a lot of time and money.

Be Prepared

My suggestion is to be prepared for divorce once it happens. I have heard many judges say that individuals cannot agree on terms of divorce until they have emotionally come to terms that the marriage is over. I do not know if this is always a wise observation or merely a rationalization to protract divorce proceedings until the parties are sick of seeing each other in court, have spent their life savings on attorney fees and have no money or will left to fight, thus resulting in a "settlement" that no one is happy with and is worse than what the parties could have agreed upon many months and dollars ago.

Keep Good Records

Respond to your attorney's request for information completely and on time. Divorce is final and you are bound by its terms so it is important to plan for your future and to be able to sit down and really be comfortable with how you will be able to make ends meet once the marriage is over. That all starts in the preparation phase. Maintain contact with your attorney and ask yourself at all times, "do I really know what is going on with my case?" All of the above will help lead to timely, educated decisions which will promote a swifter and less costly resolution of your case.

Settle Terms as Amicably as Possible

Not all cases are settled. Most cases, however, can and should be resolved abut sadly come to resolution months, and even years later than they should for terms that could have been agreed upon at a much earlier date. Spouses end up hating each other even more than they sometimes do when the divorce is filed. This is never a good thing, especially when the parties lives will remain intertwined for years to come because of children whom both spouses will continue to parent. The process is within your power to control. It is your life now and it will still be your life once the divorce is over. As tough as it may seem to believe, fair and reasonable expectations coupled with preparation place you in a far better light with the court and promote a timely and satisfactory resolution of your case.

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