How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost?

What is the Price of Peace?

Every divorce has a price tag—filing fees, divorce attorney or mediator fees, and other court-related expenses total up quicker than you might think. So, what is the price to pay for peace? The answer to this question largely depends on how you go about getting divorced.

What can you do to keep divorce costs down? TruNorth Divorce Solutions sheds some insight into the true cost of divorce and provides some pointers to help you avoid breaking the bank.

1. Why does divorce cost so much?

Divorce is never one-size-fits-all—no two are the same. But while the nitty gritty details vary by situation, there are a few common factors that draw out the process and drive costs up.

Contested divorces are usually rooted with irreconcilable conflicts and tough emotions, and this really complicates the divorce process. Generally, these types of divorces go to court to be settled because resolving things amicably through cooperative efforts is next to impossible.

What does this have to do with the cost of your divorce? Time spent is the answer. The divorce process is essentially a negotiation and when an agreement can’t be easily reached, the time of divorce attorneys, the court and its officials, other family law professionals is enlisted to help arrive at a divorce settlement agreement. 

2. Filing costs

The cost to formally file for divorce through the court varies by state. In the state of Maryland, for example, the average cost to file with the court is $185 (if you hire an attorney; $165 if you are representing yourself—although this is not generally advised if you have joint assets). There are other costs associated with serving your ex with an official decree of divorce.

Things can snowball quickly in a contested divorce because it’s hard to reach an agreement. Court appearances, responding to motions, filing paperwork, and the cost of the time of the professionals involved during the process all add a divorce’s overall price tag. 

3. Legal representation

One of the biggest expenses in any divorce are attorney fees—hourly rates for family law attorneys can be pricey. According to Bankrate, the average cost of a US divorce is around $15,000. Divorce lawyers generally bill for your initial consultation and then establish an hourly rate going forward.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the services your lawyer provides, and it’s also a good idea to have them disclose billing practices up front so that there aren’t any surprises down the road. Never go in blind. 

Pro-tip: Picking up legwork by getting paperwork and relevant account statements together can help you save on billable hours. Being organizationally savvy and providing an accurate and clear picture of your finances can end up saving you a good chunk of change.

Divorce Mediation Cost - all of the costs involved

4. Divorce mediation cost instead of court

It’s not uncommon for separating couples seeking an uncontested divorce to enter private mediation instead of going through the court system—but how much does divorce mediation cost? According to Thumbtack, divorce mediation costs can range anywhere from $100 and $1000 an hour in the US and an overall cost anywhere between $3,500 and $7,500 (some mediators charge more for services than others and cost varies widely by state). Some professional mediators have an established fixed fee for their services.

Professional mediators who have financial and legal backgrounds can help speed up the divorce process and save you money. But remember, the best option isn’t always the most affordable option. Do some research and make sure you end up with a good fit. 

Mediation may be an easier path to divorce, but is choosing to work with divorce mediator right for you? Choosing to work with a divorce mediator can save you a load of time, stress, and money. A professional divorce mediator possesses the expertise of a lawyer and may also bring a financial services background to the table.  

While divorce is an expense, there is no reason to break the bank. Remember, with a little financial savviness and education, you can offset some of the cost. Want to explore whether divorce mediation is a good fit for you? Contact TruNorth Divorce Solutions for a free consultation.

Three Ways to Keep Divorce from Wrecking Your Retirement

While retirement might not be in the forefront of your mind during a divorce, it’s something that needs to be considered, especially if your facing a “gray divorce.” Divorce can have a profound impact on your retirement savings and financial future. Depending on the circumstances of your split, you may see your retirement prospects change dramatically.

So, how do you keep a divorce from wrecking your retirement? TruNorth Divorce has put together a list of three things to best protect your retirement.

1. Work with the right divorce professional

Work with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) or a CDFA®-Mediator. CDFA®’s are experts at divorce finance and know how to preserve your retirement. They understand how taxes work with various kinds of assets and how to value a pension. They can predict the tax consequences of transfers between spouses, and help to ensure your retirement moneys will be properly transferred between spouses.

Lawyers do not have this expertise! At TruNorth Divorce our mediators and advocates are not just expert mediators, they are also CDFA’s and trained divorce coaches. The law is typically a non-issue in most divorces—most divorces don’t need to be processed through the legal system. Your settlement agreement, custody agreement, and divorce filings will always be legally compliant and the quality of your divorce far better when you work with TruNorth Divorce than if you work with an attorney alone.

2. Consider the tax implications of your settlement agreement

Not all assets are treated the same by the IRS. Equity in a house isn’t taxed up to $250,000 per spouse (assuming there are no other prior real estate rollovers pre-1997). Withdrawals from an IRA are taxed at your marginal tax rate. Big difference. Likewise, joint funds in brokerage accounts can be subject to capital gains taxes.

Also, the division of retirement account assets during a divorce, specifically, can have unique tax implications and governing regulations. It’s important to look at the particulars of each account and determine its actual after-tax value. A Roth IRA with $50,000 sitting in it is worth more than a 401(k) with the same amount of money. A pension distribution of $50,000, too, will be treated differently tax-wise.

3. Make sure you have a properly executed Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 protects retirement assets in 401(k), 403(b), and Thrift Savings Plans for federal employees and military personnel. For these plans, you will need to draft a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) so that the asset split becomes legal and for retirement plan administrators to accept and execute it.

A QDRO endorsed by a judge and executed properly provides a means to roll over a portion of a qualified retirement plan without penalty, tax-free. Depending on the circumstances, you may choose to continue contributing to the retirement plan. You could also roll it over into a Roth IRA through a trustee transfer. You can even take penalty-free withdrawals from transferred qualified retirement plans when they are handled within a QDRO—very helpful if you need some extra cash for a house down payment or to retire debt. Without a well-drafted QDRO you could wait years for your retirement account transfer.

Taking the proper steps to accurately assess your retirement assets during a divorce will put the right financial foot forward as you wipe the slate clean and retake sole ownership of your assets. For more post-divorce budgeting tips and all topics divorce, visit our blogsite.

Reach out to a divorce mediator in Maryland if you want a kinder, smarter, and more affordable divorce. If you’re on the fence and you have a list of concerns related to your divorce, don’t hesitate to Schedule a Free Strategy Session to go over your options. 

 

 

Get A free Consultation

484.321.6990

hello@trunorthdivorce.com

Why You Need a Divorce Mediator in Maryland

Most of us feel overwhelmed and rather clueless about which direction to take once we conclude we’re going to get a divorce. Traditionally, the first move had been to call a lawyer but you should pause, take a breath, and then reach out to the right professional to get you going in the proper direction for you and your family.

 Other than a DIY divorce (unadvisable unless you have neither assets nor children), mediation is the least expensive and fastest way to get your divorce. A divorce negotiated through mediation will also help you preserve a civil relationship with your spouse, especially important if you have children, and always important for your self-esteem. If you live in Maryland (or any other state) you should first seek the help of a divorce mediator in Maryland to discuss whether this is a viable option for you. 

The Best Mediator for Your Maryland Divorce

Divorce impacts us emotionally and financially and must be processed within the confines of the law. It’s generally not a good idea to go through this process alone, especially when there are qualified professionals who can help guide you through the process and address each of the facets of divorce, not just legal. 

If you choose a divorce mediator in Maryland, identify an experienced moderator who has not only knowledge of Maryland divorce laws and procedures but also training in divorce financial and emotional issues. The mediators at TruNorth Divorce take a holistic perspective on divorce and are dually certified as divorce financial analysts and divorce coaches. They have also been extensively trained in divorce mediation, including how to process your divorce legally. Don’t expect your divorce lawyer-mediator to be  skilled in all of these areas–the reality is that attorneys aren’t trained in anything besides law and often don’t know what they don’t know. Consider adding in a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst CDFA® and divorce coach to your team if you go the lawyer route.

Reach out to a divorce mediator in Maryland if you want a kinder, smarter, and more affordable divorce. If you’re on the fence and you have a list of concerns related to your divorce, don’t hesitate to Schedule a Free Strategy Session to go over your options. 

 

 

Get A free Consultation

484.321.6990

hello@trunorthdivorce.com

3 Key Things to Look for in a Divorce Mediator in Pennsylvania

Getting a divorce is certainly not the best of times and should be a last resort to solving marital conflict. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things just don’t work and it’s important to accept that and move forward. If you find yourself searching for a “divorce mediator near me,” then you’re in luck. Using mediation can eliminate a lot of the stress, strife, and expense from the divorce process and help both parties get a satisfying outcome.  

As divorce mediators in PA, we know how to bring clarity and calm to these situations. However, when you’re seeking out a divorce mediator in Pennsylvania, there are going to be a few things to look for in a qualified professional: 
 

    1. Expertise. Before you secure divorce mediation in PA, ensure that the person you hire has the right qualifications required to be your mediator. She should be skilled in all areas of divorce–legal, financial, and emotional and be able to expertly guide you and your spouse to a solution that you’ll feel good about now and for years to come. A CDFA-Mediator may be your best choice.

        

    2. Experience. A highly-experienced professional can make all the difference. Any divorce mediator in PA you seek out should have a good number of years working with divorcing couples. When you talk to a potential mediator, ask her about her success rate and what’s made her effective.

        

    3. Demeanor. Divorce is an emotional roller-coaster and “divorce brain” can make it hard to make good decisions. You should look for a divorce mediator in PA who has the training and personal style that is helpful when working with a couple where one or both of the spouses is experiencing confusion, shock, anger, resentment, sadness, and more.  

      If you’re looking for a divorce mediator in Pennsylvania, then you should call our
      PA Office for TruNorth Divorce Solutions or Schedule a Free Strategy Session to get help you determine if mediation is right for your divoce and gain tips on how to approach mediation successfully. 

TruNorth Divorce provides expert divorce mediation and guidance to individuals and couples considering divorce. Their mediators are not only experienced mediators who are highly knowledgeable about divorce law and procedure, they are also trained as divorce coaches and are Certified Divorce Financial Analyst CDFA® professionals who specialize in divorce financial issues. This powerful combination allows them to address each of the dimensions of divorce–legal, financial, and emotional–leading their clients to a better and brighter future that has taken all their needs into account.

 

 

Get A free Consultation

484.321.6990

hello@trunorthdivorce.com

Three Critical Financial Steps in Getting Through Your Divorce

Divorce can make it really hard to think straight about what to do next when it comes to most things and especially financial planning. Believe me, I know. The intelligent, together person you are can turn into an emotional, brain-fogged, unorganized mess. You try really, really hard to keep it together but you know this will not go down as “the best of times.” You want to sit down and get it together and plan your future but feel paralyzed and surrounded by a pea-soup cloud of indecision. What’s a person to do to ensure they’re doing the right things to financially plan for your divorce?

Well first, let’s get real.

ADMIT WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW

When it comes to the finances, what’s your role? Do you handle the family’s finances and investments? Are you on top of your investment accounts, retirement plans, bank accounts, etc.? If you’re in the dark, you need someone to help you turn the lights on and fast!  Gather all your financial statements on your asset accounts and your most recent tax returns, then find a specialized divorce financial advisor to help you out and bring you up to speed.  A CDFA is specially trained in the financial aspects of divorce and will be your best friend in this process. If you and your spouse are able to cooperate, you can use a CDFA-Mediator who will educate you and your spouse on the realities of your financial health and what your future might look like under various settlement options.

START ENVISIONING YOUR FUTURE

Maybe you’ve already been fantasizing about your future life or perhaps this has all taken you by surprise. Regardless, it’s time to start really thinking about what the next phase of your life looks like. Unfortunately, this has to happen at the same time that you are grieving what you thought the next phase might look like. But if you allow yourself some space, it can actually be very productive. You now have the chance to start from scratch. What did you used to dream of doing that got lost while you were married? Is it time to go back to school? Maybe live on a sailboat for awhile or move closer to family? Whatever you dream of, you have to have your budget and financial picture top of mind. So the step above has to come first so your dreams don’t outsize your wallet! A financial advisor specializing in divorce would know how to set you up for future success.

BUILD A SINGLE IDENTITY

Often through marriage many of the credit cards, mortgages, loans, etc. are in the names of both spouses. All of those accounts will have to be closed or converted. After the marriage is over, your credit picture may not be nearly as strong, so you want to be sure to put some things in place while you’re still married. Immediately open a checking and savings account in your own name to begin the process of establishing your own financial identity. Get a credit report and start monitoring it. Track your expenses and create a budget for now and post-divorce. Find a good rewards credit card to apply for in your name alone so that you will be assured of having access to credit through the divorce and beyond.  

These steps seem small but are valuable first steps to get you thinking financially and looking out for your future. You can get through this with a little help from an experienced divorce financial advisor. Having the right professionals on your side will be of great benefit to you.

 

 

Get A free Consultation

484.321.6990

hello@trunorthdivorce.com