The Cost of Divorce

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Ever wondered what´s the cost of divorce? How much do people spend when they end their relationship?

Learn about this here.

the cost of divorce

Divorce is NOT a Commodity

According to a 2006 article on Forbes, divorce proceedings can range from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars, with the average cost of a contested divorce ranging from $15,000 to $30,000.

Most of this money is spent on legal fees.  What’s amazing is that though everyone searches for the cost of divorce, it’s always about the money and never measures the value or cost to the family.

Everyone looks at divorce as a commodity, something you want to do as cheaply as possible. What if we viewed divorce like heart surgery.

If you were going for heart surgery would you shop for the cheapest doctor? NO, you would want the best!

The average divorce dollar cost varies considerably depending on the type of divorce, how contentious the divorce is, and whether you use options such as mediation (which will drastically help you decrease the costs) or collaborative divorce.

The emotional cost is somewhat dependent on these factors, but even more dependent on YOU and the values you bring to the process.

Legal Fees

Divorce ain’t cheap no matter how you cut it.

Even a two-day divorce trial will cost about $25,000.

Divorce lawyers generally charge from $75 an hour and up this is super low, with partners in large firms charging as much as $750 an hour. Some divorce lawyers will charge a flat rate of a few thousand dollars or a rate per contested issue (not including court fees). 

Mediation and Collaboration

Mediation and collaboration are other options that couples who have some disagreements regarding settlements, but whose divorce is fairly amicable, can use.

In some jurisdictions, couples in a contested divorce are required to meet with a mediator before they can receive a trial date. You will still end up paying for the mediator, but mediation can speed up the divorce process and reduce the amount of time the divorce lawyers spend on the case.

According to Forbes, this can reduce the overall bill to around $5,000. In a collaborative divorce, the spouses hire lawyers, but the lawyers agree to resolve the issues without litigation. This requires lawyers trained in collaborative divorce.

Forbes notes that as of 2006, collaboration costs average around $3,000 per lawyer.

cost of divorce

Additional Costs

The additional costs are the ones no one talks about enough.

Besides the usual fees associated with selling and distributing assets (stocks, bonds, property), there is counseling and/or coaching, accountants, financial planners, and maybe even forensic accountants. 

The REAL cost is the time and the feelings. Children are the most frequent collateral damage in divorce. Taking care of them should be your main goal. 

The more contentious the divorce, the more likely children will be caught in the middle. Even in lower conflict divorce, children are often thought more as a negotiating tool than as people caught in the middle of a fight they did nothing to create.

As parents get more caught up in getting it over with and blaming the other parent for getting “in the way” of a settlement, they start to lose sight of the fact that the other person is the mother or father of their children as long as they live. After the divorce, there is still going to be SOME kind of relationship.

How to Get real Value

Bringing your values to the front line is the most surefire way to do this.

Put your children first, keep a vision for co-parenting post-divorce as your prize in the process. Do this and the divorce will get less costly financially and emotionally and take far less time.

Simple but not easy, conflict coaches, divorce coaches, trained mediators can all be helpful in this process particularly if they work in this field.

An experienced mental health professional who is intimate with the divorce process is basically worth their weight in gold and will help you keep afloat emotionally in some rough waters.