It’s no secret that legal matters are expensive. This includes a divorce. Many factors influence the cost of a divorce, causing the price to go up or down. If you’re worried about the price of ending your marriage, here are some things to consider.
“Fault” vs. “No-Fault” Divorce
New York residents can still claim fault in a divorce. This means that they officially accuse their partner of wrongdoing that ends the marriage. “Fault” divorces result in a trial.
A fault divorce trial functions much like a civil lawsuit. One person accuses the other, and they must prove their claims in court. They can introduce evidence, witnesses, documentation, and so on. Every accusation must be countered, and the opposing side must use evidence to disprove these claims.
All this activity makes a fault-centered divorce expensive, and the expense builds on both sides. Each new claim requires both lawyers to conduct investigations and collect evidence. Then, these claims must be argued in court, which adds to the cost.
Moreover, the court can rule that one spouse pays the other’s legal fees. This puts the burden of all that investigation, evidence, and court time on one person. The resulting bill can be quite hefty.
A no-fault divorce is far less expensive. In this process, neither side directly accuses the other of misdeeds. The couple can simply cite “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for their divorce. From there, the court simply makes decisions on property division, spousal support, child custody, child support, and so on.
Don’t be confused. A no-fault divorce is not cheap. You must still pay your lawyer for their services, including the time spent in court. There are still court costs as well. It’s also still possible for one partner to pay the other’s legal fees.
Options for Avoiding Court
By now, it should be clear that going to court is one of the main factors that makes divorce expensive. Luckily, the law allows couples to avoid court altogether. Here are some alternatives to settling your divorce in a courtroom.
In a collaborative divorce, everyone works together. Each spouse hires their own attorney and meets with them to voice their worries and needs. Then, all parties meet and hash out the details. The process is friendly, and the goal is to meet everyone’s needs. Lawyers can even recommend one another, as they are working toward the same goal. No one has an opponent.
Furthermore, you can bring other professionals into the conversation. You can hire financial experts, psychologists, child specialists, and more to help with negotiations.
A collaborative divorce is the most expensive of the court-free options. You are paying at least two lawyers along with any other specialists you bring in. The financial cost may be high, but the emotional benefit may be worth the expense. You can avoid an ugly, stressful courtroom battle, and you can walk away knowing that you agreed to all relevant decisions.
Divorce mediation is similar to a collaborative divorce, but there are far fewer people involved. In mediation, you hire a legal professional to help you negotiate. The goal is the same: Get the spouses working together, making their own divorce agreements. Mediators should have specialized psychological training that helps keep the conversation moving and tempers even.
Mediation costs far less than a collaborative divorce. It requires hiring only one person, and that person primarily works only during the meetings. However, couples will not receive the same benefits as they would through a collaborative divorce. If your divorce is potentially complicated, such as having commingled assets and children from other marriages, you may be better served by a collaborative divorce.
Do It on Your Own
Ultimately, you and your spouse have the right to meet, negotiate, and finalize all divorce agreements yourselves. Nothing is off-limits. If a decision must be made, you can do it together. Afterward, you can commit your agreements to writing and submit them to the courts.
Aside from some paperwork filing costs, this option is absolutely free, but it is not recommended. You and your spouse are smart, capable people. Unless you are legal professionals, however, you’re likely to miss something important.
You should at least run your agreement by a skilled attorney. They can overlook your work and help you catch anything you missed. They may even catch mistakes you made along the way.
If you’re concerned about the cost of your divorce, reach out to us for a free consultation. We may be able to provide options that can keep costs down while helping free you of a bad marriage. Our number is (914) 312-4131, and you can contact us online.