It is very rare to find a couple who ended up paying next to nothing for their divorce as you are more likely to find those who paid almost everything.
To find out how much does a divorce cost is not so simple as there are many variables one should take into account.
The costs can be such small figures as $50 for a Do-It-Yourself divorce or as high as many thousands or even millions where litigation was involved and several expert witnesses had to be called.
According to the American Bar Association, the average cost of divorce was $15,000 in the year 2011.
Divorce Cost Guide
The natural question you may want to ask is why there is such a great variation between different divorce proceedings.
The difference is in the detail of each case and how the couple wishes to proceed with the divorce process. There are various options available for couples looking to formalize their separation.
Do It Yourself
This method is only ideal if the two people involved have no children, have not been together for very long, and own no assets together. It also only works if the two people involved have already agreed on every detail, which is a rare thing. The only costs the couple will incur are filing charges for the divorce papers.
No lawyers will be used in such a divorce except if one or both parties want the papers professionally reviewed.
There will be no court charges as the case will not proceed to court. There are websites which assist couples complete a DIY divorce for as little as $50.
If you have been together for years and in that time came to own some property together but you both feel an amicable divorce is right for you, then a mediated divorce may be your best option.
A mediator will walk you through the process of dividing up property and working out visits and custody issues.
This process can cost between $1000 and $7000 depending on the mediator’s hourly fees, how long the process will take, and if either of the divorcees will want the final agreement checked by a lawyer.
Flat Fee Divorces
Many lawyers have provisions for offering quick divorces for a flat fee. These flat-fee options are best for divorcing couples who have agreed on all terms and are ready to move on.
Such a plan is ideal if the couple have no children. Most flat fee divorce plans range between $200 and $1500.
In this type of divorce, the divorcing individuals each have their own attorney (or team of attorneys). The attorneys meet and work out the issues in an effort to come up with an agreement.
This method avoids litigation and court proceedings though you still have to pay court fees and filing charges. Apart from court and filing charges, the individuals have to pay the hourly rates for their respective legal counsels.
This can be the most costly among the discussed options since it involves court fees, lawyer fees, and expert witness fees if applicable. Divorce court proceedings are also more likely to be adversarial compared to the other forms so the costs will be much higher since it is harder to reach any agreements.
Most divorce lawyers will demand an upfront retainer of $5,000 just to consider your case. That means the couple will collectively pay $10,000 just to have their case looked at, even before approaching each other to discuss any agreements.
Once the initial consultation has been done, the lawyer will need to be paid hourly fees which normally range between $100 per hour and $5,000 per hour for those rich celebrity divorces.
If there is a lot of property to be considered for division, there may be the additional charge of hiring financial experts and forensic accountants to ascertain the true value of the total wealth.
Where there are issues of spousal support and child custody, there may be further additional charges of hiring expert witnesses and child psychiatrists for their expert opinion.
All these hourly fees can add up to a king’s ransom very quickly. This is the most dreaded option but is a good last resort especially where there are complex issues such as criminal offences, spousal/parental neglect, or asset divisions.