The True Cost of Divorce

Jun 10, 2014 by

The divorce rate in the U.S. is 50%, which means that for every ten married couples, five will eventually divorce. This is certainly tragic from an emotional and psychological point of view, but few consider how truly staggering the cost of divorce really is.

Unless you are very rich or very poor, ending your marriage is a good way to end up in bankruptcy. For the average middle-class American with children, the financial burden of splitting one household into two can literally break the bank. It is all too easy to underestimate the costs of divorce and you only realize how bad it is when you get the bill.

Most people think of lawyers as being the only beneficiary of a divorce, but the fact of the matter is professional legal fees are among the most predictable of divorce costs. The real money drain is when a divorce is handled through the court system rather than mediation. The fees associated with litigation in divorce will depend on whether there are children, if there is a family business and other property to split up, retirement plans, debts, alimony, and so on, but typically costs upwards of $10,000 each in 2012. And then you have the actual monthly payments you have to make for child support, rent, utilities, and so on.

Mediation is a little better if the parting of ways is amicable and both parties are willing to work together to come up with a divorce agreement and parenting plan (if there are children) they can live with and a judge can approve.  To do this as effectively and economically as possible, you will need a divorce lawyer conversant with the family law in a particular state to help draft the agreement so that it protects your rights but deals fairly with your ex-spouse. It will minimize the time needed for mediation, which will cut costs considerably.

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