According to the U.S. Census Bureau, most marriages last an average of 8 years. That’s a lot of history, emotions, and complications. Ending a decade-long relationship is almost always messy.
Shinichi Suzuki famously said, love is grand; divorce is a hundred grand. This was on point, as divorce usually involves spouses suing each other.
Whether it’s amicable or contested, the parties involved often feel the financial stress emanating from the entire divorce process.
But why would it be so costly to go through a divorce process? Is there a way around the financial burden associated with the process?
Divorce is expensive because of the varying costs such as attorney fees, state filing fees and laws, and lack of consensus, which means a more prolonged divorce that sometimes even goes to trial.
However, most separating couples are focused on their new chapter and want the legal separation over and done with. If this is true, what then makes divorce so expensive? Let’s take a deeper dive into this emotional cash trap.
The average cost of divorce in the U.S. varies from state to state and also depends on whether there are children involved, property, and so on. Additionally, the couple’s temperament matters a lot.
An inability to agree on simple things is a perfect recipe for an expensive divorce. According to experts, the average (mean) cost of a divorce is $12,900.
In a divorce, every party gets their own attorney. In some cases, a dependent spouse may be entitled to an award of attorney fees. This is where the court orders the earning spouse to cover both attorney fees.
On average, the hourly rate for a divorce attorney is $270.With a hands-on, full-time divorce attorney, the average total cost of legal fees goes up to $11,300 per spouse.
Divorce costs can be minimized by finding a middle ground between separating couples. Agreeing on major issues before hiring an attorney is key.
Remember, every hour spent consulting with your attorney, whether over the phone or in-person translates to dollars.
A simple amicable divorce may cost as little as $4,100.
Attorneys cost a lot of money, and they are mostly paid by the hour. In addition, the more complicated and uglier the divorce, the higher the attorney fees. The average cost of a divorce lawyer is $270, and the average total cost for legal fees per spouse is $11,300.
According to some sources, an uncontested divorce may take up to 18 to 24 months to complete. This period is considerably longer for couples that can’t see eye to eye.
Considering that attorney fees pile up the longer the divorce takes, the final cost usually ends up being a substantial chunk of each party’s finances.
A marriage has to be legally dissolved by a court of law. This costs money, and depending on the state, the fee varies. In most cases, the minimum requirement is a fee for filing a divorce complaint.
Sometimes, this fee covers every other court fee but if the divorce case is prolonged, there could be other payments involved. The fees range anywhere from $80 to $400, depending on the state.
A surprising cost for many divorcing spouses is the shared costs of most recurring bills such as phone bills, insurance, loans, etc.
Shared plans cost significantly less than individual plans. For instance, refinancing loans could cost upward of a thousand dollars. On top of that, just changing from the current shared plans incurs a hefty fee.
Family therapy is usually recommended and even necessary in divorce cases, especially where children are involved. The National Directory of Marriage and Family Counselling puts the average therapy cost at $75 to $200 per session.
The divorce process gets significantly more affordable if both parties agree on how to split the property, custody, and so on. However, you would be surprised at how quickly the normal fees for an uncontested divorce still pile up.
On average, a rate of $4,100 is applicable with no contested issues, independent of other costs such as relocation fees.
A divorce without lawyers is an option for spouses who can agree on most of the major decisions needed to finalize the process.
Custody arrangements, division of property, and so forth. Divorce without a lawyer costs an average, $1,170, though it can also be as little as $300 in some instances.
Business mogul Jeff Bezos has had the most expensive divorce in the recorded history of divorces. Bezos met his now ex-wife Mackenzie way before Amazon when he was still working at a hedge fund.
Mackenzie supported Bezos as he started and grew Amazon into the global conglomerate it is today. Upon their divorce, the court awarded Mackenzie a four percent stake in Amazon worth more than $38bn, making her the world’s fourth-richest woman.
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You can get a divorce with no money by filing your own paperwork at the local courthouse. The drawback here is that any kind of legal proceedings is difficult to complete if you don’t have the necessary training.
Definitely not impossible, but it takes up a lot of your time. Alternatively, there are different services designed to help spouses get a divorce even with no money. These include online dispute resolution, with costs starting from as low as $9 per month, depending on the state.
- Don’t fight your spouse. Agreeing beforehand on who gets what will save both parties money on attorney fees and time.
- Don’t call your attorney for every little question you have. You will get charged for the time. Instead, call the attorney’s office and speak to the staff, they’ll be just as helpful.
- Ask for flat attorney fees. These are almost always cheaper than an hourly rate.