At the conclusion of the initial consultation with a perspective new divorce client, after listening carefully to the client’s concerns and discussing that client’s particular circumstances and how he or she may wish to proceed, inevitably at the end of our session I am asked one question more often than any other – “How much is this going to cost?” This is a valid concern, in that divorce tends to have a considerable impact on an individual’s finances, however, providing a finite figure as to what the related costs will be is a very difficult task for numerous reasons.
Several Factors Affect the Cost of Divorce
There are many factors that may impact the expenses associated with a divorce action, the first of which is the route the parties chose to pursue in obtaining a divorce. If the parties have taken advantage of the alternate dispute resolution process, as previously addressed in Kevin M. Kilcommons, Esq.’s article about divorce and collaborative family law, and come to our offices with a mediated settlement agreement that resolves all of the issues between the parties, the expenses associated with formalizing that agreement and putting the divorce through to a final judgment would be very moderate.
In the alternative, if the parties each retain respective counsel and then take part in mediation, having his/her attorney review and, perhaps, revise the agreement along the way, then the expenses would most likely be slightly higher, due to the additional expense associated with having the input of counsel while negotiating the agreement. However, the expenses would still be less than if the parties had not taken advantage of the mediation process and, rather, opted immediately for traditional litigation.
If the parties do not have a working relationship that would allow for a negotiated settlement through mediation, they may choose to negotiate a settlement through their respective attorneys and before either party files a complaint with the Court. Although this process may result in higher costs, due to the fact that each client is paying his/her attorney for their services rather than both parties sharing in the cost of a mediator, the overall expenses should still be less than litigating the matter to a resolution.
Unfortunately, in certain situations, the relationship between the parties has deteriorated to the degree where communication and negotiation is not possible. Under these circumstances, litigating the matter to a conclusion may be the only viable alternative. In the event of such situations, I always tell my clients that I will do my utmost to control the expenses from our end, but I cannot control the expenses that result from the actions of my adversary. If my client’s spouse is litigious and has his/her attorney frequently sending letters and/or filing motions that require a formal response, then my client’s expenses are going to proportionately increase due to the need to respond to such actions.
No matter what process is chosen by our client and/or their spouse to obtain a divorce, we listen and work closely with our client so as to provide the excellent representation he or she deserves, while doing everything in our power to contain the costs associated with the divorce process. In the end, the more issues resolved by the divorcing couple by direct communication, especially matters involving their children, results in less cost and generally less stress to the family.
© Shanahan & Voigt, LLC 2014
BE ADVISED that these comments are not legal opinions and are not to be relied upon as legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact your county bar association; most of which have referral services.