Divorce is complicated and is often quite expensive. The costs for a divorce appear as both immediate expenses for court and lawyer fees, and in long-term losses, such as property division and alimony. While it’s impossible to predict the exact cost of a divorce for each spouse, taking all sides of the equation into consideration beforehand can help you prepare.
What Type of Divorce Are You Pursuing?
An amicable divorce is by far the cheapest option. Although there may still be some fees for submitting and acquiring official paperwork, the drawn-out process of determining and establishing fault is a non-issue. Whenever you attempt to determine fault, you should expect higher legal costs and potentially greater property loss, too. There’s a huge difference between two individuals voluntarily choosing to end their marriage and struggling to work out a marriage with an unwilling spouse. Obviously, there will always be uncomfortable details about money that must be addressed. The more willing both parties are, the smoother the process usually goes. Often, it also leads cheaper divorce costs.
It isn’t impossible to divorce your spouse without a lawyer. Typically, this only happens in amicable cases, where neither spouse has a lot of monetary assets. While this lowers the cost of a divorce, you still want to consider the long-term implications of your decisions. Even if you agree to end your marriage, partners who have been living together for an extended period, or partners with significant wealth or assets should seek legal aid. Proper management by a professional can close up any loopholes that might cause problems later. Moreover, a lawyer ensures that your partner doesn’t scheme a last-minute revenge to harm you financially.
Other legal considerations include court costs and necessary fees, as we mentioned above. Each state has different codes, of course. It’s a good idea to look up state-specific filing fees, so you don’t get a surprise the day you plan to end your marriage.
Division of property often turns into the costliest part of a divorce. If you own a house or a car, you must determine who gets to keep those assets. Joint bank accounts, retirement savings, and investments complicate matters further. If you maintain the house, you may lose more liquid funds to your spouse. The reverse is also true. Keep in mind, however, that income and legal ownership of individual assets play into court decisions. It isn’t impossible to claim something your spouse bought, especially if you can demonstrate that you use the asset more often, or that it is more important to your livelihood. A divorce represents more than a change of lifestyle. It accounts for a new financial reality.
On top of these considerations, the wealthier spouse may need to pay alimony. If you have children with your spouse, things become even more complicated. Custody issues aside, child support is a major financial concern.
Divorce may represent a significant gain or loss to you personally, but even in the heat of the moment, it’s important to pay attention to finances. It’s possible to go through the process without a lawyer, but inadvisable. Remember, the greatest costs may not be the fees you have to pay today. They could be the assets you lose. It’s better if your divorce costs more today and less tomorrow.