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.
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.