Deciding to divorce is the beginning of a long, and often complex process. It’s a process that will force you to address many issues and one that will cause you to ask many questions. One of the first questions you’re understandably likely to ask is – how much will this process cost? It’s an important question to ask – and unfortunately one with no easy answer.
Although all divorces may involve some of the same issues, the truth is that each divorce – like each couple getting divorced – is unique from any other. Because an attorney may not know how much time it will take to complete your case, it will be difficult for that attorney to give you a precise amount based on an hourly rate. However, during a consultation, some attorneys can provide an estimate of the potential amount of legal fees that you might incur for your specific case.
A typical domestic case will include services such as meetings; gathering information about you and your spouse’s assets; attending court hearings; serving your spouse with a copy of your complaint, exchanging discovery with your spouse’s attorney, and other related activities. Depending upon your particular case, other services might be required, and of course, that will change the fee.
Certainly, different attorneys will charge different hourly rates and varying fees. These may be dependent upon the experience level or reputation of the attorney, the location in which the attorney practices, or the type of litigation – traditional or alternative dispute resolution – that the attorney is hired for. As with any industry or profession, prices for the same services may vary from one provider to another.
Several factors can also affect the cost of a divorce. Some of these include:
- The complexity of the issues involved in your divorce: Without question, some divorces will simply be more complicated than others. Couples with children will necessarily have to address and resolve a number of issues that couples without children will not. Couples with a significant amount of property will obviously have a more complex and complicated property division process than those who have only been married a short amount of time and haven’t yet accumulated many assets or debts. A couple who has been married for many years with one spouse being a stay-at-home parent will have alimony issues that a young couple with two working spouses might not. The list could go on, but the ultimate point is that the cost of a divorce will necessarily depend upon the complexity of the issues. Each couple will have their own unique circumstances and issues, and ultimately, an attorney will be able to look at those circumstances and advise you as to what the potential costs for your particular issues might be.
- The method used to resolve your case: When many people initially think of divorce, the picture that often first comes to mind is a couple battling it out in a courtroom, with two attorneys who are aggressive and contentious, each refusing to give the other any ground. Certainly, there are some cases like this. More and more often, however, divorces are not resolved in a courtroom at all. Instead, they are resolved through alternative methods of dispute resolution – methods like mediation, collaborative law, or lawyer-led settlement negotiations. The advantages of these methods of dispute resolution are many. They allow couples the freedom and flexibility to decide their issues on their own, in a way that works best for their family’s unique needs, rather than have a court decide the issues for them. Additionally, these methods often allow the couples to arrive at a resolution of their issues faster, and with far less expenditure of time on the part of their attorneys than traditional litigation would require. In the end, that means saving more of your hard-earned money for your next new chapter ahead.
- The willingness of the parties to work together: Although it may seem obvious, sometimes, it’s important to state the obvious. When it comes to divorce, as with so many other issues in life, cooperation and open communication will be much more likely to ensure a smooth, successful, and efficient process than fighting each step of the way will. It only makes sense. Fighting it out and arguing over every minor detail will only serve to prolong your case – and cause both of you to expend more time, endure more stress, and ultimately, accumulate more costs. Being willing to compromise and meet in the middle on issues will require less time to be expended by each of your attorneys – and will save you money in the long run. While it’s understandable for emotions to be running high during a divorce, try your best, for the sake of your family and your budget, to put those emotions aside and work toward getting through the process as smoothly and successfully as possible.
When considering the costs of divorce, it’s also important to keep in mind that in certain instances, the costs may be reduced or defrayed. For example, if the court determines that you are the dependent spouse and lack the means to cover the cost of litigation in alimony, child support, and child custody matters, the court may award you reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs – including, for example, the cost to take depositions and have experts conduct investigations and give testimony. These costs alone can amount to several thousand dollars.
At The Law Office of Dustin McCrary, we understand that divorce is a part of your life – but it’s certainly not the only part of your life. It simply shouldn’t be so expensive that it takes away from your ability to afford other essential, important things too. That’s why we are reasonable with our pricing honest about our fee schedule. We know that it’s important to be able to prepare and plan ahead, especially when so much of your life following a divorce feels unsettled and unpredictable. We’re here for you, and we’re ready to help. Call us at any time.