Divorce is one of the leading issues in modern marriages that has become a major fear for couples worldwide. Unfortunately, 50% of marriages end in divorce since some couples have irreconcilable differences. These differences can range from different life ambitions to extramarital affairs that destroy trust. Regardless of what drove you to separate from your spouse, divorce might be the result, depending on how serious your issues were.
If divorce is in your future, you might do a significant amount of preparing to survive the case. While a divorce might be essential to your situation, that does not mean you will have an easy time with one. Divorces can be contentious, but they also come with a price.
Divorce can take many forms, but traditional divorces have earned their name due to how common they are. Even though traditional divorces are extremely common, they also bear a traditional cost that makes them difficult to finance. Traditional divorces are extremely expensive for both parties and can drain a couple's finances. While divorce being expensive is common knowledge, too many people are unaware of why a traditional divorce can be costly.
The most common expense in divorce is what you spend on a quality attorney to represent your interests in the negotiations. Unfortunately, divorce attorneys fall under the "necessary expenditure" category if you want to maintain equal footing with your spouse. While not every divorce involves lawyers, it is more common for traditional divorces to become a duel between your attorney and your spouse's.
While it is possible to represent yourself in any case, it is usually not recommended since you will be severely disadvantaged if your spouse elects to hire one. Despite the importance of retaining legal counsel during divorce, it is one of the biggest expenses you will have.
The reason is that most attorneys operate on an hourly basis, meaning they charge for every hour they are working on your case.
Currently, the average costs of divorce attorneys are as follows:
This, combined with the fact the average divorce takes between 12 and 18 months to finalize, can leave you with significant legal fees. Fortunately, the expense associated with legal fees is contingent on a lengthy divorce. If you are able to resolve your divorce quicker than the average, you might be able to save some money despite hiring a quality attorney.
While attorneys are one of the primary expenses you will have to address during divorce proceedings, another important expense is the associated filing fees you must pay to process your divorce with your state's court. While you can technically avoid attorney's fees by forgoing representation, filing fees are mandatory to be legally divorced.
Each state's court system will require a different sum to file for divorce. Listing the individual filing fees of all 50 states would not be practical for this article, but we can cover the highest and lowest costs you can expect.
The 5 states with the lowest filing fees for divorce in modern America are as follows:
The 5 states with the highest filing fees for divorce in modern America are as follows:
These fees are non-negotiable and must be paid if you want to file for divorce. It might be tempting to try and file in an inexpensive state like Mississippi, but laws prevent you from filing for divorce outside your home state. This does not mean you have to file for divorce in the state you were married if you moved to another state full-time. You are only required to file for divorce in the state where you and your spouse reside. The situation changes if you and your spouse are separated and living in different states.
If you are separated and living in Mississippi and your spouse is living in California, you can choose from either state. Ideally, you will opt for Mississippi to minimize the filing costs. This situation is the only exception to filing in your current state. Regardless, these filing fees are a major contributor to the cost of traditional divorces.
Most divorces are contested and driven by animosity between the divorcing parties. This contention often drives at least one party to disadvantage the other to the best of their ability. While it will not necessarily affect you, your spouse may attempt to make the divorce proceedings too expensive for you to sustain.
As we mentioned earlier, every day you require your attorney's services is another day you have to pay their rates. Short-term, these costs can be daunting but not incapacitating. When your case takes longer than the initial projection, the expenses start piling up and can be almost impossible to pay off. While you might think such an issue will not arise, it can be more prominent than you realize. Some spouses are desperate to ensure the divorce ends in their favor and will go to any lengths to ensure it does.
This has led to some people developing stall tactics to drag out the divorce proceedings and intentionally deplete their spouse's finances. As underhanded as this technique is, it has become popular with certain individuals who recognize the frailty of their case. Rather than leave the negotiations to chance, some people will drag their feet through the process and have their lawyers use the most complex negotiation methods.
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of stall tactics in divorce negotiations, which is a very big issue.
The discovery process involves a series of requests for important financial and personal information that the lawyers can use for the negotiations. Typically, these requests are simple and involve a fluid exchange of information between each legal team. Unfortunately, it is possible to abuse the system by requesting information that is unimportant.
While not every request is pertinent, it can be peripherally related and compel your legal team to honor it. While this might be harmless once or twice, some people will use the tactic to bog down your legal team and drag out the negotiations. This causes your lawyer to waste resources and forces you to pay for the extra service hours.
While discovery is one tool your spouse might employ to delay the proceedings and drain your resources, there are others. One thing a legal team is capable of doing is requesting continuances from the court to extend the process to compensate for issues in their legal strategy. Typically, continuances occur when new evidence is brought forward, which surprises one or both parties. This means there must be a good reason to request a continuance to prevent the delay of serious proceedings.
Unfortunately, continuances are easier to request in divorce cases since the only reason your spouse needs to give is that they have been unable to acquire legal counsel. The lack of legal counsel can justify the delay of the process, though it will only work so often.
Finally, your spouse might attempt to delay the process by forcing your legal team to file motions. Whenever a spouse hides assets during divorce, the other must file motions to uncover the deceit. Specifically, when a spouse hides money in new or previously hidden bank accounts, it casts doubt on the financial information they provide.
Hiding assets is unacceptable in divorce and can lead to serious sanctions against the offending party during the negotiations. However, careful individuals can format these hidden assets in a way that forces you to file a motion to reveal the hidden funds and compel your spouse to disclose the data.
While hiding assets to compel a motion might backfire on your spouse, it also delays the proceedings and wastes financial resources. The stall tactic is designed to deplete finances quickly until your spouse is the only one with representation. As we mentioned, lacking legal representation while your spouse has access to it can severely disadvantage you and skew the case in your spouse's favor.
Like all divorce cases, traditional divorce involves agreements on sums one spouse is expected to pay another. These usually include child or spousal support payments that help one spouse provide for themselves or their children. While some divorce proceedings end without a spousal support agreement, any with children involved will yield a child support agreement. These agreements ensure that one spouse continuously pays the other after the divorce is finalized. While these agreements are universal to almost all divorces, traditional divorces are the most common and are equally susceptible to these payment plans.
While these agreements do not impact your finances during the divorce process, they can cause a lingering expense if the divorce favors your spouse. Both support formats are determined by similar criteria, such as income, children from previous marriages, and other outstanding financial debts. If the judge decides that your spouse is in greater need of financial assistance after the divorce, you will be expected to make the payments. The negotiation of support payments is designed to be as impartial as possible and avoid circumstantial conditions. As a result, they are very difficult to contest, and you might have to brace for the payments.
You must pay spousal and child support payments monthly, so you will be expected to maintain regular payments every month after the divorce is finalized. This can easily compound with the initial expenses you paid during the divorce process. This makes certain divorces more expensive after the fact, which makes traditional divorces less appealing to some people. The only reprieve from these post-divorce payments is that spousal support is nullified once your spouse remarries. Child support payments remain in effect until the child is no longer dependent on the parents for financial support. This usually means that the payments are canceled once the child turns 18.
Divorce is an unpleasant experience that can be debilitating and financially draining as you work to overcome the machinations of your spouse's legal team. Traditional divorces are only one type of divorce, but they remain one of the most common that people experience. Despite the common nature of traditional divorces, they can be one of the most expensive. Divorce impacts 50% of married couples, and the average divorce can cost $12,900.00, though the length of the divorce affects this statistic. Nevertheless, going through a traditional divorce will likely seriously impact your finances. Between legal fees and post-divorce payments, you will pay a significant amount.
Protecting your interests during a divorce, especially lengthy ones with high costs, can be challenging. Part of why we retain the services of divorce attorneys is to have them protect our interests on our behalf. Unfortunately, having an attorney might not be enough to protect yourself from the ramifications of divorce.
The stalling tactics your spouse might employ to skew the divorce in their favor is only one resource they might use. People might employ several underhanded techniques to damage your chances of getting through the divorce. The best way to ensure you are fully covered is to learn as much about divorce as possible.
Information is the ultimate shield against any potential tools your spouse might employ against you. It also helps keep you apprised of how to conduct yourself and prepare for the inescapable parts of a divorce. We realize this is an unpleasant situation, but we hope this article was helpful.
If you're ever in any need of further information about the divorce process, we highly recommend you check out our extensive collection of articles, which will cover topics including child custody, divorce statistics, when it's time to divorce, and much more. You're bound to find useful information relating to your circumstances.