I came across a podcast today by a divorce lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts who discussed the “cost” of getting divorced. Here are some of the questions he was asked, with my answers.
- You hear in the news about couples staying together simply because the cost of divorce is too high. What makes getting a divorce expensive?
Forgetting about the physical and mental stress that is involved in getting a divorce – which is a cost that people don’t often think about – the true “cost” of a divorce depends on how much time the attorneys spending working on the file. Most attorneys charge an hourly fee for their work on a case, so the more work they do, the higher the cost.
Where the clients can help to keep their cost down is to be reasonable in their demands, organized when they present documents to their attorney, and willing to work towards a settlement that will work for both them and their spouse. Clients that are unreasonable in their demands, are unorganized, and who are unwilling to settle for anything less than everything they want are usually going to have a higher legal fee.
Clients that are willing to conduct a collaborative divorce will pay less than their counterparts that choose a traditional divorce.
- What are some costs that people don’t realize are involved with the process?
Some of the costs that people don’t always think about are court costs, process server fees, expert witness fees, and fees for custodial evaluations and parenting coordinators. As can be expected, where clients can agree to keep things out of court, and can work together to do what is right for their children, the need for experts and parenting counselors will decrease – thus keeping down the overall cost of divorce.
- Is divorce more or less expensive when kids are involved?
On average, I would say that divorce is more expensive when kids are involved, although that will vary by case. Long, drawn out custody battles are the most difficult and expensive divorce cases of all.
- What are some things couples can do to make divorce affordable?
Choose the right attorney. If you hire an adversarial attorney that is willing to fight for you at all cost, than you are going to pay more than if you hire an attorney who is willing to work with you and your spouse to find a settlement that will work for both of you. Attorneys that are less adversarial will often get you a better outcome, net of attorney fees, than attorneys that will fight tooth and nail for the best possible result for you, but cost you a lot more. It is important to consider the economics of going to court in terms of cost and what the true benefit or upside is if you go to court. For over 90% of cases, they will settle out of court once they realize how expensive a trial really is.