The number one question posed during any initial interview is “how much will my divorce cost”. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer. So, why do some divorces cost more than other divorces?
1. THE ATTORNEY. Your selection of attorney will drive the cost of your divorce. If you have a simple divorce, it’s not necessary to hire an attorney who charges $500 an hour. If you have a more complex divorce, you’ll need to hire an attorney who has the years of experience to appropriately address the issues in your divorce case. And yes, this means a higher hourly rate than an attorney with little experience. The average range of hourly rates are between $250-$500 an hour. Once again, hourly rates can be largely dependent on the years of experience of the attorney and their experience in a specific subject matter.
2. THE FIGHT. If you and your spouse fail to reach an agreement at mediation or through negotiations, and your case moves to trial, your case will cost much more than parties who were able to resolve their issues without trial. If you and your spouse are fighting over everything and are unable or unwilling to limit the issues for the trial judge, your trial will be several hours or days long, driving up your attorney’s fees. Be prudent over what you “fight” about. Review the cost benefit analysis before you engage in the fight.
3. COMPROMISE. Compromise can be the key to saving cash in your pocketbook, and preventing unnecessary emotional agony. If you and your spouse are willing to compromise over some or all of your outstanding issues in your divorce, your divorce can be finalized without the need of a painful and expensive trial. You can control your legal fees by your willingness to make compromises with your spouse and to negotiate effectively with the mindset you want to reach an agreement and avoid a costly trial.
4. DISCOVERY. If you have a complex case requiring a lot discovery, it will increase the cost of your divorce. Your attorney will provide you with a list of discovery items you will need to compile and provide to them. The attorney will then need to review these documents and determine what must be shared with the other party/attorney. Your case may require subpoenas to be issued to obtain information unavailable to either party. Or it may require interrogatories to be sent to the other party or require you to respond to interrogatories you receive. Your case may require depositions. The deeper we get into the discovery process, the more fees, and costs there will be. Make the process easier for your attorney and compile as much information as you can early in your divorce process.
5. YOUR NEEDS. Some clients require more attention than others. Each time your attorney responds to your call, emails, or texts, you most likely will be billed for their time. Of course, communication with your attorney is necessary. But you may want to think through whether you need to reach out to your attorney with every little issue. You can control some of your legal fees by limiting your communication to what is really necessary.
Divorce is a stressful and difficult process. That’s why more couples are turning to the collaborative divorce process. A highly trained team of professionals work together with you to develop a fair, open and child centered resolution. If you want to avoid going to court, reach your own agreement, and promote positive co-parenting post-divorce, the collaborative divorce process may be an alternative for you.
Laurie K. Schmitt, founder of Schmitt Law, PLLC, is an Attorney, Mediator, and Collaborative Divorce lawyer. When possible, she guides her clients through amicable divorce settlements so they can move forward with their life. Contact Laurie online or by calling (616) 608-4634 to schedule a consultation to discuss the collaborative divorce process and how it can benefit you.
Our office is located at 401 Hall Street SW, Suite 112D, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.