cost of divorce

How Much Does It Really Cost to Get a Divorce?

Not all marriages last. Some couples end up getting a divorce while others live happily ever after. If you happened to find yourself in an unhappy marriage, then a divorce is one way to deal with it.

Although no one wants to face the music, understanding the cost of a divorce will be helpful in such unfortunate circumstances. Apart from being a painful and emotional process, divorces can cost thousands of dollars.

But we’re here to tell you the exact number. So with all that said, let’s find out how much does it cost to get a divorce.

It Depends on the Type of Assets You Own

It’s no secret that people can lose up to half of their wealth through a divorce. Don’t believe us? Then have you missed Jeff Bezos’ divorce? The Amazon CEO lost a whopping 19.7 million Amazon shares to his ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos. The total worth of these shares was $38 billion, making MacKenzie Bezos the wealthiest woman on the planet.

But what’s the difference between Jeff Bezos’ divorce and yours? Well, for starters, it is unclear whether or not the divorce was contested. A contested divorce will cost much more than an uncontested one. What this means is that it will cost you much less if you and your wife agree on the terms before heading to court.

A contested divorce involves fighting for money, children, child support payments, property, etc. Naturally, a contested divorce will draw out much longer and will drain more funds.

However, a rough estimate of a divorce with agreed child alimony costs anywhere between $12,000 and $15,000.

The things get more complicated when one of the spouses, or both, are business owners. If so, then the business owner will be subjected to a business valuation. This valuation alone can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $18,000!

It Depends on the Attorney

Getting a lawyer for a divorce is always a smart thing to do. But do know that you will need to pay this person for their services. Logic dictates that divorces with lawyers cost more. Attorney fees don’t come cheap and some rough estimates say that each spouse pays on average $11,000 in attorney fees.

Judging by this figure we can safely assume that no one would want to bring an attorney to court. But while an attorney doesn’t come cheap, it might be the difference-maker in you gaining custody of your children. As you might expect, custody of children is highly contested in divorce cases and some would pay the price to win.

Children aren’t the only issue why spouses choose to get represented by an attorney. Retirement plans, properties, business shares, and dozens of other factors play a huge role in determining what you win and what you lose in a divorce case.

Wealthier couples almost always choose to get represented, while less fortunate couples choose to agree before going to court.

An attorney will also be the difference-maker in you knowing about your spouses’ retirement plan and other financial dealings. While spouses are required to be fully transparent about their finances during a divorce, not everyone does this. If you don’t have a lawyer by your side ready to investigate, then you might be missing out on those retirement plan funds.

There Are Ways to Pay Nothing

Not all divorces have to cost dozens of thousands of dollars. While there are ways to pay nothing, other factors play a huge role in it. Even if you pay nothing in attorney fees, you will still have to fork out $300. This is the average, minimum you will pay for a divorce nationwide.

If you don’t have the money, then you will need to prove it and will be asked to pay nothing for the divorce. But even so, it’s almost impossible to get a divorce without paying anything.

This is because other costs exist after you get divorced. For example, one of the spouses will likely want to change her name. This isn’t cheap nor are other things such as updating estate planning documents, refinancing debts, etc.

Living arrangements also change, and that will certainly cost a dollar or two.

But there are ways to drastically lower the cost of a divorce. For example, instead of going with a lawyer, why not both you and your spouse hire a financial planner? Financial planners cost much less than what an attorney would cost and they represent both of you in a fair and meaningful way.

Another alternative for a divorce attorney is something called a mediator. Mediators listen to both sides and help in making an acceptable arrangement that will benefit both sides.

Since most of these people work on an hourly fee, it’s safe to assume that a mediator costs much less than an attorney. And the fact that there is only one person that needs to be paid, that really puts things into perspective.

However, the easiest way to lower the cost of a divorce is to agree beforehand with your spouse. Also, the legal and financial documentation will need to be taken care of beforehand.

Factors That Play A Role in the Cost

Before we end, let’s summarize the factors that play the biggest role in determining the cost of the divorce.

  • Is It Contested or Uncontested?

This play by far the biggest role in determining the total cost of the divorce. The difference can really be thousands of dollars on average.

  • The Location of the Divorce and the Local Fees

It’s safe to say that some places are more expensive to get a divorce at than others. This also plays a big role, bigger than you might think.

  • Is an Attorney in the Picture?

Choosing to get represented can cost you thousands of dollars. But like we mentioned earlier, an attorney can make a huge difference in winning the divorce.

  • Child Custody and Evaluation

If both spouses cannot agree on child custody, then the divorce most likely draws out and cost you money. Not only that, but the loser will have to pay alimony. The amount of child support varies on a case by case basis.

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