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Osip Aksenov
Osip Aksenov

How Much Will My Divorce Cost

Naturally, if you're facing divorce, you want to know how much it's going to cost. There's no easy answer to that question, because final bills can vary widely, depending on the circumstances. The most important factors affecting costs are whether you hire a lawyer, how much you agree with your spouse about the important issues in your divorce, and how quickly you can work out disagreements.

How Much Will My Divorce Cost

When you hire a full-scope attorney to handle your divorce, the lawyer's fees will be your biggest expense. But there are other expenses as well. You'll have to pay filing fees and other court costs (more on that below). Also, depending on the circumstances in your divorce, you might have to pay fees for child custody evaluators, real estate appraisers, tax advisors, and other experts. The people in our survey who had had divorce lawyers reported paying an average of $1,480 for these other costs. The more typical median for these expenses was $500.

If you and your spouse can go through the divorce process either completely on your own or with help from a mediator and/or an online divorce service, it will almost always be far less expensive than hiring a full-scope attorney. In our survey, people who handled their divorce without hiring a lawyer had an average of $925 in costs, not including the cost of mediation. More typical, however, was the median cost of $300. Let's look at what went into those expenses, as well as mediation fees.

When you file for divorce, the court will charge a filing fee. And if your spouse is the one who started the process by filing the initial divorce petition, you will typically have to pay a fee to file your answer to the petition.

Selecting fault grounds doesn't necessarily help you in Ohio,and it can actually make your divorce more difficult. If you pursue a faultdivorce, based on your spouse's adultery for example, and your spouse deniesit, you will have to prove to a judge that your spouse cheated.

Proving adultery may require the use of a privateinvestigator and it will certainly require an experienced trial attorney, whoknows the legal rules of evidence and other technical trial procedures. It isoften much simpler and cheaper to file for a no-fault divorce.

Whether you are able to reach a settlement agreement outsideof court is going to depend on your ability to decide issues of propertydivision and custody with your spouse. Ohio encourages parents to arrive at asettlement agreement regarding custody and child support outside of court,which the court will then formalize upon granting the divorce.

If you are able to resolve most or all of your issuesthrough mediation, you will certainly have decreased the costs of your divorce.But mediation can save you money even if you're only able to resolve one issueoutside of court, because paying an attorney and his or her team to representyou at trial is almost sure to cost you more than $150 per hour.

Before we get into the numbers, it's important to emphasize that many different factors affect how much your divorce will cost. But the biggest cost differences hinge on the answers to three questions:

Finally, it's worth noting that when it comes to hiring a divorce attorney, full-scope representation isn't the only option, even if it's the most common approach. Depending on your situation, you might be able to save on your legal costs by hiring a consulting attorney to handle limited tasks in your divorce (more on this option below).

With or without a lawyer, you will have to pay some basic court fees, and you might have added costs for mediation (both of which are discussed below). But because people who hire lawyers are more likely to have complex cases, they're also more likely to have other expenses, such as:

Case complexity is probably why our survey showed that readers with full-scope attorneys paid more for these sorts of costs (an overall average of $1,880) than those who handled their own divorce ($1,170, on average).

But you might find that the easiest solution is to use an online divorce service, as long as you and your spouse have agreed about custody, support, and the division of your property and debts. Typically, these services will have you answer questions about your situation and then will generate the proper, completed forms needed for an uncontested divorce in your state. Some of the more expensive services will file the forms for you. Others provide you with filing instructions and guarantee that your state court will accept the completed forms.

The cost of these services typically ranges from about $150 to $500 (though some charge a monthly subscription fee). For instance, DivorceNet offers an online divorce product with a flat fee in that range.

If you and your spouse are able to work out your disagreements on the issues in your divorce through mediation or collaborative divorce, you will save the considerable expense of going to trial. The cost of divorce mediation itself can vary considerably, depending on whether it's with a private mediator or through the court or a nonprofit agency, as well as the number of issues you need to work out. Regardless, mediation will almost certainly be less expensive than collaborative divorce (which involves paying two lawyers rather than splitting the cost of one mediator). That's true even if you hire a private mediator, and even if you consult with a lawyer during the mediation process.

Of course, the cost will vary widely, depending on how many hours of the lawyer's services you need. In our survey, the small proportion of readers (10%) who consulted a lawyer or used unbundled legal services in their divorce paid an average of $4,600 in attorneys' fees; the more-typical, median amount was $3,000.

Every aspect from the amount of property that needs to be divided to the willingness of both parties to work together will play a role in the overall cost, and most of these aspects will remain fluid throughout the process.

Administration and court fees are the most basic expense of a divorce and will vary by state. The initial filing fee to start a divorce action can range anywhere from less than $100 to more than $400.

There will also be additional fees to file various documents with the court throughout the process; however, these are rarely the only costs incurred throughout a divorce. Other common factors that will continue to increase the expense include:

The longer it takes you to agree on the issues that arise in your divorce, the more your divorce will cost you in the long run. Attorney fees will continue to pile up, and if your cannot resolve your issues and must go to court, you can expect the overall cost to increase exponentially.

Divorce is a stressful and emotional process that frequently causes even the most rational people to act completely irrationally. It takes clear thinking to get through a divorce, and fighting over petty matters or taking a stand out of principle will only serve to increase the total cost. Failure to follow court orders will also result in additional expense, as it will cost more in legal and attorney fees to file contempt charges or modifications to temporary orders.

Mediation can be a very effective approach for achieving fair solutions on even hotly contested issues. Though you will have to pay the mediator by the hour, it will still end up saving a ton if you can avoid taking issues before a judge. Collaborative divorce is another option that attempts to take conflict out of the equation and should be considered based on your circumstances.

Both spouses need to be committed to finishing the divorce as quickly and fairly as possible. It requires full, honest and timely responses to all requests, as a lack of disclosure will require additional time to root out the truth and creates an atmosphere surrounding negotiations that is not conducive to achieving an amicable split.

How much will my divorce, paternity, modification, civil suit cost? I am asked this question by every prospective client to whom I talk. It is a question I cannot answer. If you have a flat fee type of case (criminal defense for example), a lawyer tells you the flat fee. If you have a contingent fee case (personal injury for example), you usually have no upfront costs. The main question in those cases is how much will you gain for your injury or loss. In my area of work; divorce, child custody, paternity, modification, family law, civil litigation, we work at an hourly rate. Most lawyers, including me, ask for an upfront retainer. We ask that the retainer be replenished when it is nearly exhausted. Of course, I do not speak for all lawyers.

Here is why I cannot answer the question. There are too many variables. For example, some clients contact me with questions every day, by email, text or phone call. They feel anxious, unsure, and full of questions. They require more of my time than clients who contact me rarely. The opposing party and their lawyer are other significant variables upon which I cannot put a cost. Some cases are very hostile and contentious. If this is true about the opposing party and their lawyer, more motions, court hearings and drama are sure to come. This type of conduct is more costly. Other cases may be very complex (multi-million dollar divorces, businesses to be valued, etc.), but if everyone is cooperative and there is little emotion in the legal process, the cost is much less. On the other side, cases that may appear small (very little to no assets, perhaps even no children) can become very expensive over pets, or an argument of principle. Over the course of my career thus far, I can think of many cases that were very expensive, required a lot of my time and energy, were very emotional and hard for my client, for reasons I could not fathom at first glance. It comes down to basic human nature and how that translates into my time on a case.

You can control your side of the action, assuming you have a family law lawyer you can talk with, understand, and make informed decisions on strategy and moving forward at any given time. This is the best cost control you have. Approach your choice of divorce lawyer with all of this in mind, and my hope is that this perspective will help you, and perhaps reduce your legal cost. 041b061a72


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