The average cost of divorce today varies wildly.
An amicable, less contentious divorce will obviously cost much less. However, when combative women, men and divorce all converge, the price tag can be six figures — if not more.
With that in mind, here are four factors that will make your divorce more expensive.
Fighting with your spouse
If you and your spouse can agree on issues like custody, child support, and division of property, then you will spend significantly less on legal fees and court costs.
You may even be able to enter into a flat-fee arrangement. This means that for a prearranged amount, a law firm will simply prepare and file all the necessary paperwork. This approach is often speedy and relatively cheap.
However, if you and your spouse can’t agree, you may be faced with significant attorney fees. Lawyers bill at an hourly rate and often require a retainer fee, and when you add those up, the average cost of a contested divorce is higher.
If you end up in court, you’ll have to pay your lawyer even more, as well as trial costs like deposition expenses, service fees and witness costs. The average cost of a contested, fully-litigated divorce is typically much higher.
Custody battles and cost
Fighting over children will also add expenses to a divorce. There may be costly psychiatric examinations. If the court appoints a Guardian Ad Litem, you’ll have to pay for that as well. And if your attorney needs to call an expert witness, that too may be an added expense.
Your divorce attorney
Which divorce lawyer you hire will have a big impact on how much your divorce costs, but that doesn’t mean you should hire the cheapest lawyer you can find.
An incompetent attorney can make your divorce even more painful than it has to be, and if you don’t have good legal guidance, your spouse could take you to the cleaners. So when you’re searching for an attorney, try to find one who has lots of experience within the family law field and is the best fit for your case.
Lots of marital assets
Generally, the more marital property you have, the more complex your divorce. If you and your spouse have jointly accumulated lots of real estate, equities or other investments, your lawyer may need some expert help. They may need to hire a financial analyst or real estate appraiser, and you’ll likely be expected to chip in for this.
Despite all of these factors, you and your spouse ultimately have a lot of control over how much your divorce will cost. If you can work together to sort things out, you’ll be able to keep costs down. If not, you may be in for a divorce that’s not only combative, but expensive as well.