The cost of a divorce in the U.S. can be significant. If you're going through the divorce process, how much you can expect to pay when all is said and done depends on many different factors that may include:
- The hourly rate of your attorney
- How long your divorce takes (contestability issues often contribute to the length of your divorce process)
- How complicated your situation may be (children, a business, etc.)
- Whether or not your situation allows you to resolve/settle some or all of your issues out of court
Because there are a lot of uncertainties regarding just how much you'll pay out-of-pocket for your divorce, it's best to budget proactively. The following are a few considerations that may help you reduce the cost of your divorce and allow you to budget more effectively.
Be mindful with your communications
Phone calls, faxes, emails, texts, and written communications are considered billable time for which you could be charged by your attorney. You'll save yourself some money if you can consolidate your messaging whenever possible. For example, rather than sending numerous emails with one or two questions every other day, it may be more cost effective if you write questions and concerns about your divorce down, and then send a single, consolidated email once a week.
Don't treat your attorney as your therapist
While your divorce attorney may be sympathetic to your situation, it's often in your best interest not to use billable time for discussing general marital issues. As mentioned in the first bullet point, every communication can often be considered billable time and you could be accruing hours that might be better spent on a family counselor or therapist. If you're struggling and need some help, it's important to get the counseling you need at this difficult time. However, it may be more cost effective to go through your health insurance provider to cover therapy costs versus your attorney's hourly rate.
Consider a mediator
A divorce mediator is when a third party works with a couple to help resolve specific concerns outside of court. For example, if you and your soon-to-be former spouse are unable to come to an agreement about an equitable financial settlement, it can be a lot less expensive to hash it all out with a mediator versus in a courtroom.
If possible, get talking
A lengthy divorce can be costly. It's in your best interest to discuss things such as an equitable custody arrangement, the division of property, and other major issues with your soon-to-be ex before you step into the courtroom. Contestability issues that come up as surprises in court can delay proceedings and end up costing you more. If you are on speaking terms, then see what you can work out ahead of time so that there are no delays.
It's safe to say that most Americans don't plan on having to budget for a divorce after they say their vows. However, if you find yourself in this situation, we hope this article has provided you with some helpful considerations to plan accordingly and to be better prepared.