What Makes A Divorce So Expensive?

Father carries baby on shoulders outside

Many people share the impression that getting divorced will come with a hefty price tag. It is true that there are likely to be costs involved, but there are many factors at play that can influence the cost of a divorce on several levels.

Much of what determines the cost of a divorce is how you choose to handle the legal process. However, deciding how to handle a divorce is significantly impacted by the level of cooperation or conflict that exists between the two people divorcing.

How a Divorce Can Become So Expensive

Divorcing parties who are more amicable and cooperative may find that their divorce will cost less and take less time compared to those who are uncooperative and face several unresolved disputes. That said, there are other components to take into account when considering why a divorce can become so expensive. And not every cost paid has a monetary price.

Monetary Costs

Every divorce is different, but the overarching reasons behind why a divorce may become prolonged and expensive might be somewhat similar from case to case. Fierce conflict, deeply-rooted disputes, and a lack of cooperation can put both divorcing parties at risk for spending more money and more time to resolve various matters. In situations like this, it's very possible for attorneys and other legal professionals to get involved as the divorce heads to court, perhaps even several times over.

It is absolutely wise to seek help from an experienced divorce attorney during this process, yet attorney fees can become expensive very quickly. Depending on your fee structure with your attorney, things like meetings, emails, and phone calls can add up in cost. You may have paid a retainer, though it is possible for costs to go beyond that the more you require their assistance. You'll probably end up paying even more on your divorce in the future if you need to take your case back to court at a later date.

More than fees related to court or lawyers, costs can also add up when you start working with other professionals such as divorce coaches, therapists, private mediators, and other kinds of legal or mental health practitioners. Again, the services of these other professionals can be invaluable to those going through a divorce, yet the cost of these services can add to the total cost of the divorce.

Emotional Costs

More than money, divorce can quickly cost all family members on many other levels. Parenting conflict often comes with an emotional cost that can have a major impact on the whole family, especially children.

To a child, their parents' divorce might feel like the end of their family. It can be hard for young children to cope with all of the changes that take place such as one of their parents moving to a new home. If both parents must move, the child will feel the impact of the divorce even more since they'll have to change homes, too.

Experiencing their parents' divorce can be emotionally taxing on a child, and the consequences of this can be tremendous if precautions aren't taken to help uphold their emotional well-being early on during the process.

The longer a contentious divorce is drawn out, the more emotionally expensive the whole ordeal becomes for everyone touched by it. A costly divorce can lead to worries over money, which can lead to even greater emotional distress to those paying the costs.

Avoiding an Expensive Divorce

Divorce is hard, and each party involved wants to do the best they can to protect themselves and the things that they value. If the parties believe that they can stay peaceful but are having trouble finalizing some issues, mediation can be a great option.


A mediator acts as a neutral third-party that helps divorcing parties discuss and reach agreements on all sorts of matters. At times, mediators may be court-appointed, or you can enlist the services of a private mediator. 

Mediation might not go without some moments of tension, but divorcing parties who are willing to communicate and work together to reach agreements outside of court, this option can be a great way to help to keep costs down in a divorce.

Collaborative Practice

Another alternative method for handling a divorce is through collaborative practice. In this option, both parties each have their own lawyer, and all four individuals met on various occasions to discuss and settle on the terms of the divorce.

A mediator may even be involved in this process to facilitate discussions. Collaborative practice is most effective when both parties are willing to cooperate in good faith to reach agreements that are mutually acceptable. If the parties decide to take a contested matter to court at any point, the collaborative process ends.

Still, hiring a private mediator or working with an attorney and other professionals in a collaborative divorce will cost money. However, both strategies can keep divorcing parties out of court, if not greatly reduce the amount of time spent litigating, which can prove to be a big money-saver. All in all, if divorcing parties can be amicable and work together to resolve various issues in a process that isn't very prolonged, the more money they'll be likely to save.

Tools to Support Cooperative Communication During and After Divorce

If parties can find a way to communicate clearly during and after their divorce is settled, they may have more success in settling disputes and reducing divorce costs for everyone involved. This is especially important for parents who will continue sharing the responsibility of raising their children together.

Using a co-parenting platform like OurFamilyWizard can help co-parents improve communication and make it easier to handle parenting issues on their own. OurFamilyWizard is comprised of tools that allow parents to input the details of their parenting plan including schedules, expense responsibility agreements, shared forms and files, and more. It also helps parties maintain a secure record of communication, which can help in preventing misunderstandings that often lead to conflict.

If parents are working with someone such as a lawyer or mediator during their divorce, they can each grant those individuals access to work with them directly through the website. This helps provide their professionals with the information they need to assist the parties quickly and only as often as necessary per each party.

Many parents choose to use these tools to keep their information organized and well documented. Co-parents may quickly find that by using these tools, their communication can become clearer and more concise, and chances of reaching agreements on their own can improve. This can mean significant savings on attorney fees and court costs.

What makes a divorce so expensive has a lot to do with conflict and disagreements. Frequent miscommunication doesn't help to lower costs, either. If you can handle your case using an alternative method to litigation, you're likely to find yourself saving some money. The emotional expense of a divorce can be lowered if both parents are dedicated to keeping the situation as peaceful as possible. Tools on OurFamilyWizard can help to support parents in their effort to keep the peace.