Keeping Divorce Costs Down

Piggy bank - tips for keeping divorce costs low

Divorce takes a toll on families in so many ways, one of which being on a family's finances. According to an article from U.S. News & World Report, the average cost of a divorce in the United States is hard to determine, but it is typically set at anywhere between $15,000 and $30,000. A number that is worth noting in comparison to this is from a report from Slate.com which states a wedding in the United States could cost anywhere within those same figures.

It's hard to pinpoint the exact cost of a wedding or divorce, but it's pretty safe to say that on average, either event may come with a hefty price tag. When a divorce can cost as much--or more--than what was paid for a wedding, it becomes difficult to see the sense in it all.

Even if you considered the possibility of a divorce before you got married, it likely wasn’t anything that you thought would actually happen. While the average cost of divorce isn’t necessarily low, it doesn’t mean that your divorce should cost so much. Every situation is different, but if keeping divorce costs down and saving money is a priority, consider the following:

Settle what you can out of the courtroom. 

A divorce is emotionally challenging for everyone involved. Feelings of anger, resentment and sadness can affect one’s judgement during this difficult period. The decisions being made during this time will not only have a great impact on your family and your future, but they will also influence the amount of money you end up spending on your case.  

If you and your spouse are in agreement on how to handle all of the big issues like child custody and dividing assets, you can likely keep divorce costs down by filing for an uncontested divorce. On average, an uncontested divorce is must cheaper for both parties.

Even if you are not in agreement on how to work out every issue, it is still important to keep calm and to be open to the idea of negotiating in order to stay out of the courtroom. Think about enlisting help from a mediator as you settle the terms of your divorce. You might also think about taking a collaborative approach to your case.

Collaborative divorce allows the divorcing parties to work out their agreements with the help of their respective attorneys plus a number of other professionals like a child specialist and a financial expert. Through regular meetings as a group, the parties will negotiate the terms of their agreements outside of the courtroom. The collaborative divorce process also allows the parties to be more in control of the outcome of their case as opposed to leaving it up to a judge to make a final ruling.

No matter which way you do it, the average cost of bringing a case in front of a judge is typically higher than settling disputes in outside of court. If you must bring your case in front of a judge, keeping that time brief by having already come to some decisions outside of court will also help lower costs. 

Understand your legal fees. 

Getting stuck with fees you didn’t know were coming can be tough, not to mention frustrating. Legal fees can add up very quickly, so it is important to know what exactly you’re being charged for and how much.

Many divorce attorneys charge clients by the hour. This is because on average, it is often hard to determine how long a case will actually take. Other attorneys will allow you to pay a retainer and will deduct their fees from that initial payment you made. If you are able to find a divorce attorney who will allow you to pay a flat fee for their services from the beginning to the end of your case, this will help to cut down on the risk of incurring costs as the case moves forward.

Parents should know exactly what their attorney charges for. For instance, your attorney may decide to charge you extra if they make photocopies of your documents, so you might decide to make copies on your own. Your attorney might also bill you for the time that they are in communication with you via email or by phone.

Knowing if your attorney will charge for this can help you to make critical decisions about how often you consult your attorney.

Next, know the costs involved for the other professionals you or the court may enlist for help in your case. While you can opt to get help from other professionals, it is possible for a court to order parties to attend mediation, therapy, or parenting classes. Any of these sessions will likely involve fees that you will be required to cover in full. To help prepare yourself for these costs, research the average cost of these sessions in your area. Even though it might not be your decision to attend these sessions, you can at least get ready for what those fees might be and work that into your budget.

Set a budget. 

It’s always good to save money, but when you are in the midst of a divorce case, you might not know just what you’ll end up having to pay by the time it’s all over. Sticking to a budget will be important in order to save whatever money you can during this time.

Budgeting will help you to hopefully end up with more money in your pocket after you’ve paid your legal fees than you would if you didn't start saving. Keep track of what exactly you’re spending money on and know what you might be able to get reimbursed for. For example, if you share custody and split parenting expenses, you may be able to receive reimbursements for different costs having to do with your kids. Save your receipts and know the proper method through which you should request reimbursements. Maintain a log of what you have requested and what you have been reimbursed for.

Keep calm and collected. 

It's hard to put an exact about of time that a divorce case will take, but on average, the longer it takes to settle the case, the more expensive it will be. Repeat trips to the courtroom can become quite expensive, which does not help in keeping divorce costs down.

Maintaining a civil relationship with your ex-spouse can help you to avoid this situation, which saves you more than just time and money. A divorce is an emotionally taxing experience on an entire family, kids included. It is important to understand that the actions you take will have a great impact on your children, so it is best if you can come to a place where your case is settled and stable. If you do need to restructure your agreement, try and do it out of the courtroom. 

Putting a number to what the average cost of a divorce is in the United States is difficult to do. The most important thing that you could do as you make the decision to divorce is to talk to a professional who can help you to access your situation, and provide you with information and guidance that can help you decide how you should approach your case. Keeping divorce costs down can be a priority no matter how you handle your case. Understanding the costs, budgeting, and maintaining a civil attitude towards the case are all things you can do to help you save what money you can during your case.