It's up to both of you. You do have options.
In divorce, certain issues must be decided and agreed too, before your divorce will be granted by the court. The two main areas that must be decided are financial division, and how will parents care for their children. If you and your spouse cannot resolve these or any other important issues, on your own. The following options are available to you.
The typical adversarial divorce is not necessarily fought out in court before a judge, but rather fought out through attorneys. It is unethical for one attorney to represent both parties, so each spouse must have their own attorney. To start the process each spouse will pay their attorney a retainer fee, usually as much as $5,000.00, even more if the details of the divorce indicate. Attorneys collect all necessary information about their respective clients, as well as about the spouse. Attorneys fill out all necessary forms and documents, and file with the court. Then your attorney negotiates on your behalf with your spouse’s attorney. Probably some trips to court. It is a long cumbersome process that produces lots of billable hours for each attorney. This process can be brutal and last several months, if not a year or two. For many couples, at least one spouse becomes disillusioned with the process and/or unable to afford the cost, just settles. Then your attorneys represent each of you in court, presenting your negotiated agreement or settlement, to the judge for approval. How many stories have you heard about the spouse that got screwed in his or her divorce after spending thousands and thousands of dollars?
If you and your spouse are willing to discuss your unresolved issues and would prefer to take a more civil approach to your divorce. A Professional Mediator can help you produce mutual agreements without the frustration and expense of an adversarial divorce, and in much less time. Even though discussions can be difficult at times, divorce mediation really is a better way to negotiate your divorce agreement. Especially when compared to the well known traditional divorce. Divorce mediation produces better agreements and is more economical. The total cost of your mediated divorce can be as low as a couple of thousand dollars. Could be even be less, depending on how many meetings are required to finish your agreements. That's less than half the cost of one attorney's retainer fee. If couples knew in advance what an adversarial divorce might cost they would find the idea of mediation very appealing.
All Out War
Now, what is the potential cost of a divorce when a couple decides to fight it out in court?
The following is an example of divorce costs from the book “ Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce”.
I highly recommend this book to anyone considering divorce. Divorce attorney fees are the primary financial cost of divorce. Attorney fees are charged by the hour and can range from $350 to $650 per hour. In this example $350 per hour is used.
Initial meeting and information gathering. 5 – 10 hours = 3,500
Discovery - 50 hours = 17,500
Preparing your information to give to your spouse’s attorney and reviewing information received.
Trial Preparation - 100 hours = 35,000
Pretrial meetings and possible depositions. Pretrial motions 30 hours = 10,500
Court time - 15 hours = 5,250
Expert fees - Usually around that same $350 per hour
Custody Experts 40 hours = 14,000
Actuary 15 hours = 5,250
Vocational experts. 20 hours = 7,000
Court reporters fees. 2500
Estimated Total 100,500
There are other potential costs not included in this list, for example private investigation fees.
Money is not the only cost in a divorce. What about your time? Time spent in preparation and in trial.
After all that, there is the ability to appeal – more money & time before you can move on with your lives.
The example above is only an example. Actual costs will depend on how involved your case is. But, even a one-day trial with no experts can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Additionally this is only one side. Both parties have to do the same thing.
When a trial ends there is usually a winner, and a loser, and most certainly resentment.
Contact S. M. Edwards & Associates, LLC to find out how mediation can save you time and money
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