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What is the real cost of a divorce in the USA? Higher than you might think

Фото: Depositphotos

Фото: Depositphotos

Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius said: “Change your attitude towards things, and you will be safe from them,” and this fully applies to the divorce proceedings. Ruthless statistics indicate that more than half of registered marriages are falling apart. That is, divorce has already become the norm rather than the exception to the rule. Divorce lawyer Carina Duval believes that you need to treat divorce as a new page of your life

Divorce is not only a change in lifestyle, it is also a financial challenge. You will probably have to separate property and monetary assets, and this is in most cases perceived as a loss. You may also have to pay your / your former child support for your spouse / child or child, writes a resource GoBankingRates.

These costs depend on each specific situation. It is impossible to clearly state the amount to which you can manage a divorce, because for this you need to take into account the laws of your state about divorce, your current financial condition and, most importantly, whether you and your spouse agree on the terms of the divorce.

If you are on the verge of divorce, it is important that you know about the 3 cost categories that you are likely to incur: attorney fees, the cost of alternative dispute resolution and legal fees.

Фото: Depositphotos

Фото: Depositphotos

The cost of a lawyer in cases of divorce may be high

The court does not require you to hire a lawyer to handle your divorce case, but most people still need one. As a rule, many couples need a lawyer 2, one for each spouse.

Services lawyers in cases of divorce is not cheap. Moreover, they may be the most expensive item on your list of costs associated with a divorce.

Many divorce attorneys charge an hourly fee. This means that you will be billed for each full or part-time hour they spent talking to you on the phone, conducting an investigation, drafting documents, filling out forms or representing you in court. The total number of hours is then multiplied by the cost of one hour. This figure subsequently appears on your invoice, usually monthly.

How much can it cost an hour of work of such a specialist? Legal Information Site Nolo conducted a study of the rates of divorce lawyers in all states.

The most common bet is $ 250, but most people pay between $ 150 and $ 350 per hour. The lowest attorney's fee is $ 50, and the highest is $ 650.

A more important factor in determining the total amount of your attorney's fee is the number of hours he or she spent on your case. The difference between $ 50 and $ 650 per hour is huge, but if you multiply these numbers by 20 hours, for example, the chasm will be even greater: $ 1 thousand and $ 13 thousand.

Nolo they also asked their readers what total amount of attorney fees they paid for the divorce. The average figure spent on lawyers is $ 12 800. With an average cost per hour $ 250, this is roughly the 50 hours a lawyer works.

Even if you consider only the lawyer's fees for divorce cases, it becomes obvious why many people think that getting married is too expensive financial pleasure.

“However, in some cases it is possible to come to an agreement on the payment of a lawyer's services in a fixed amount. We can talk about a fixed amount when the prospects of the case can be more or less calculated in advance. In this case, each party (both the lawyer and the client) assumes a certain risk. A lawyer - the risk that the case may last longer than expected, the client - on the contrary, that the case will end too quickly and he will overpay. The complexity of a divorce largely depends on the adequacy of the requirements of each of the spouses and on the experience of their lawyers. When the goal is precisely divorce, and not an attempt to ruin each other's life, when people can soberly, abstracting themselves from emotions, sit down at the negotiating table, the costs of each participant are significantly reduced, "says international lawyer Karina Duval.

Фото: Depositphotos

Фото: Depositphotos

Is it true that reconciliation of spouses is a cheaper solution?

In general, the court encourages (and sometimes requires) that the parties to the divorce process use different alternative ways to resolve the dispute. The most common of them - the reconciliation of the spouses.

In reconciliation, each of the pair communicates with a neutral mediator (mediator). In some cases, mediators are advocates. Also mediators can be divorce lawyers. The task of the mediator is to help the couple find a common position and come to a solution to the divorce without a court hearing.

Some courts require the reconciliation of spouses in cases where the case deals with child custody or alimony. Such services, including those provided locally in your county, may be free of charge.

There are also lawyers offering private mediation services. Most of them charge by the hour. Bid - from $ 100 to several hundred dollars, according to Nolo. The average cost of a private attorney reconciliation process is $ 3 500, according to New york parenting. As in the case of a lawyer, the cost of mediator services depends on how many hours he / she spends on your case.

Фото: Depositphotos

Фото: Depositphotos

Divorce Court Fee

Confronting a divorce court is not a pleasant experience. It will be even more stressful if you consider the cost of legal services that are added to your total divorce bill.

Do not forget: if you file for divorce, you will have to pay the court. If your spouse responds to the lawsuit, he or she will also have to pay the cost of the court services. As a rule, they depend on each individual state. For example, in California, the cost of filing a claim is more than $ 400. Those who cannot afford such a sum can apply for exemption from payment.

You may have to pay additional fees for the trial. For example, if you file additional motions or go to a hearing, legal fees will be higher.

If you add up legal fees, attorney fees, and other costs (for example, the services of a tax advisor, child custody appraiser, house appraiser, and so on), the total cost of a divorce can be thousands and thousands of dollars. According to the study NoloFor most people, this “pleasure” costs $ 15,5 thousands. Those who get to court pay even more - almost $ 20 thousand. Couples who manage to negotiate in the divorce process spend less than $ 15 thousand.

Financial losses during a divorce

When people say that during a divorce “they were left penniless,” perhaps they mean not only the costs of the process itself. Divorcing couples consider the division of property and the payment of alimony a cost, but in reality the division of property is more like financial loss.

How does the court divide property in the divorce proceedings? The rules are different for different states. Where the rules of the common property of the spouses are applied, everything that each spouse has earned during the marriage is considered common property and is divided between the spouses in half. If you live in one of these states (for example, California or Arizona), then expect that the court will divide between you not only a house, but also bank, investment and even retirement accounts.

In other states, “proportional distribution” rules apply. In such states, the court must share everything in an honest way - but not necessarily equally.

This means that you may have to give the spouse the money earned before marriage, if it is necessary for fair distribution.

There is also child support for children and the "section" of children. If you have minor children, you are required by law to provide them with financial support. Parents who have children with them support them financially by providing shelter, food and clothing. The second parent is obliged to pay child support. Each state has its own rules for determining the amount of child support for children.

Фото: Depositphotos

Фото: Depositphotos

How to keep divorce costs to a minimum

Such advice can be obtained from experienced lawyers in cases of divorce. They will immediately recognize the cases with which the lawyer will work more than usual.

Chris Hildebrand of Scottsdale, Arizona, works in a law firm Hildebrand PCwhich deals with about a hundred divorces a year. According to him, the lawyer's fee will be lower if both spouses think soberly and hire similar adequate lawyers. “If either one of the lawyers or one of the spouses takes an inadequate position, the cost of the divorce will be much higher,” he says.

Hildebrand also advises you to make a list of questions to your lawyer before calling him or her. Chris allows his clients to call him at any time of the day, but he asks to make a list in advance. The more clearly formulated questions, the less time a lawyer will need.

Another clue: before the wedding to draw up a contract, prescribing how you will divide the property in case of divorce. Such a marriage contract significantly reduces the number of hours a lawyer works.

Divorce is never easy. But if you understand in advance what costs you will incur in the process, it will be a little easier. The cost of a divorce is, by and large, the cost of a lawyer. Keep them to a minimum, and the total costs of divorce will be significantly reduced.

International lawyer Carina Duval recommends to weigh all the pros and cons before the divorce. Very often, starting a divorce on emotions, people do not calculate all the risks and dangers, acting to their detriment. When deciding to divorce, you must first answer yourself the following questions:

  • In which jurisdiction a divorce will be most favorable;
  • What goals should be achieved;
  • How will be decided, and whether, the fate of children after a divorce;
  • How the issue of division of property will be resolved;
  • Does the second spouse have the right to maintenance?

It is very important to get advice from one or two lawyers in order to clearly understand the prospects for the upcoming divorce. For example, with different citizenship of spouses, the law allows to dissolve marriage in the country of citizenship of the second spouse (in particular, if this spouse is a citizen of Russia). Russian legislation allows to dissolve the marriage, while avoiding disputes about children and property, thereby minimizing the cost of finance and time. The most pleasant benefit of such a divorce is that, having obtained a divorce, the former spouses will be able to build their future life: remarry, acquire property, continue to receive education. At the same time, the registration of a divorce abroad does not prevent the spouses from sharing property and resolving disputes about children in the course of work, outside the framework of the divorce proceedings.

For professional legal advice on international divorces, you can contact a lawyer, Karine Duval:

Attorney registration: # 78 / 857
NYS registration: 4775086
Notary public, registration: 02DU6376542

tel. in the USA: + 1 (212) 205-2211,

tel. in Russia: + 7 (495) 662-8721, Email:


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