How Much Does Divorce Cost In the USA


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Divorce is a big business in the United States. It is in fact a $28 billion-a-year industry with an average cost of about $20,000. So, when it comes to file the petition, it is important to know that the whole process can be costly. The overall cost of getting divorced in the United States differ from state to state. However, the estimated cost ranges from between $10,000 and $20,000, with an average of $15,000.

In the US, it has been found that most couples planning for divorce are not aware of the expenses involved in the whole proceedings as their assumptions are generally based on hearsay and generalities. This is not the practical way to decide on the legal exoenses part as it can result in disappointment and failure in budget management.

However, in the US the overall cost of divorce is reflected by these powerful factors:

  • The lack of financial knowledge of the client.
  • The nature and financial complexity of the case.
  • The need of the involvement of experts to value a business, licenses, earning capacity, assets, projections for future lifestyle needs.
  • Hiring a good lawyer can be unbelievably high, but it will be worth every penny. Anyways, people always want the best when it comes to lawyers.
  • In the US, lawyers can also ask for a retainer fee, which can be anywhere from a few hundred to thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. A retainer is what the lawyer perceives as the minimal amount your case will cost.
  • At times you need to change your lawyer in between the divorce process. The cost of hiring and restarting the whole process is an expensive matter.
  • During the whole process, there is always the need of standard office services such as photocopying and faxing. The longer the case the more you need to pay on such services.
  • Court scheduling, availability of all parties, time for producing information and so on even play a big role in the overall expenses.
  • The more complicated and emotional the case, the more expensive it will be. 
  • Small costs like serving fees and subpoenas also will add up quickly. Every time a person does anything on your behalf or even talks to another person on your behalf, you will be charged.

Looking at these points, it becomes clear that one needs to think about budget when filing a petition. Check out your budget and then plan accordingly. The average cost  is $15,000 in the USA but if managed properly the overall cost can be much less. When it comes to the total cost required for terminating a marriage, it mainly depends on how you are planning it.

Basically, there are four ways to terminate a marriage in the US, such as:

Litigated:

Divorce is a legal process and when a couple cannot come to an agreement on various issues such as property division, child custody or spousal support, the decision needs to be taken by the court. Here both the parties need to hire lawyers who advocates for them, files court motions, court appearances, papers, and hires other experts. Hiring a lawyer is an expensive task and on top of that you also need to handle court fees, marshal fees, filing fees and so on. Always look for a good lawyer as he will negotiate firmly on your behalf but will always attempt to keep your costs to a reasonable level in the process. In most of the US states, lawyers charge by the hour and the rate varies from state to state. If the divorce case goes to trial, costs become prohibitive.

Mediation:

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For couples with children, this is the best way to end their marriage. Here the couples, with the help of the mediator, work out agreements on issues such as Distribution of Property (Assets/Liabilities), Child Custody and Parenting Time, Child Support/Maintenance, Retirement, Taxes and so on. In this kind of divorce, the role of the mediator is to keep the lines of communication open, brainstorm ideas, reality test the couple, teach empathy and assist the couple in their decision making process. Mediators rely upon the couple to produce almost all of the information and financial discovery, and come up with issues of concern. In such divorces, couples have the control over the outcome of their case without hiring attorneys and going to court. The only cost associated with a mediated process is the fee of the mediator.

Do It Yourself/Pro Se Litigation:

This is the least expensive divorce type in the US. Here any one of the spouse can represent themselves in the court and that too without the help of a lawyer. You just need to pay the filing fees and court costs. You will be responsible for filling out all the legal forms. Before going for do it yourself divorce, you must be sure that you along with your spouse can come to an agreement regarding the division of assets. It is perfect for couples with no children and no disputes. The case becomes final when the judge signs the documents.

Collaborative:

Here there will be two attorneys, two Collaborative Coaches, a Divorce Financial Specialist and if you have children a Child Specialist. Due to this collaborative process looks expensive, but in the long run it is far less expensive as compared to a long, drawn out litigated divorce. The experts work together to reach an amicable settlement with both parties’ interests meet to the fullest extent possible. Here you need to pay each specialist their own hourly rate but there are no court fees or filing fees associated with the process.

Well, this is all about the divorce types and the cost associated with it. However, you should never forget that there are short-term and long-term expenses also that you need to think about. While short-term cost is mainly associated with the legal fees and the fees of the lawyer and other specialist, long-term costs mean the financial expenses after the termination of your marriage. With a drastic reduction of income since your spouse is no longer helping you financially, there iwill be a lot of changes in the lifestyle of a person.

To conclude, the legal and financial complexities of the divorce process can be too hard to handle. However, the cost of a divorce will depend on the number and complexity of the issues that needs to be resolved.


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