Inflating the Cost of Divorce

Top Ten Ways to Avoid Inflating the Cost of Divorce

Divorce is the largest financial transaction a couple will make in their lifetime.  Most divorcing couples feel as if they’ve taken a financial beating during the divorce and long after it is over. Even if the breakup is amicable, dividing assets takes a financial toll.  Every marriage and financial situation are different.  But how much a divorce ultimately costs can depend on the couple’s actions and choices.

The average cost of a divorce in Florida is roughly fifteen thousand ($15,000.00) dollars per couple.  Costs can include attorney fees, mediation fees and filing fees.  These costs are average costs, with some divorces costing much more and other divorces costing much less. If experts are needed, the cost of forensic accountant, vocational evaluator, Guardian ad Litem, depositions, subpoenas can add up exponentially.  Hidden costs such as the loss of productivity, the cost of mental health help, lost wages and higher daycare costs also add to cost of divorce.  These hidden expenses are often overlooked but can add to the divorce bill.

Once a marital settlement agreement is executed and the final judgment is signed by the judge, the cost of divorce continues.  The cost of moving, the cost of dividing assets, taxes on the sale of assets, and other one-time expenses, security deposits for new residence.

The cost of being divorced – going from one household to two can mean double the monthly household expenses, twice as many children’s items, higher monthly health insurance premiums and non-stacked higher auto insurance premiums.

If both spouses are serious about keeping the costs of divorce reasonable, their marriage can be dissolved without destroying breaking the bank.  Here are the top ten ways to avoid inflating the cost of divorce:

  1. Work out as many things out as possible before hiring professionals. The more a couple disagrees and the more they fight, the more expensive the divorce process gets.
  2. Try mediation, if at all possible. Mediation allows the couple to settle the issues without the ongoing cost and stress of litigation.  In Florida, approximately 95% of all divorcing couples use mediation to avoid going to trial.  If one or both spouses hire an attorney, the attorneys will likely be ordered to mediation to resolve the case in mediation. If a couples choose a DIY (Do It Yourself) divorce and file the paperwork on their own, the court will almost always send them to mediation where they will go over the issues and  resolve them.  And finally, a couple can choose the option of pre-suit divorce mediation, and they will engage in the mediation process with the goal of creating a marital settlement agreement (MSA) and Parenting Plan if there are children.Mediation brings parties to agreement on many issues which the parties (or their attorneys) never thought possible.   There is often an answer to each issue that can satisfy both parties leaving the decisions of the divorce to them and not to the Court.  Even if the parties do not agree on every issue, it could prompt thought about how to resolve the issues or about what resolutions to rule out entirely.  If an agreement is not reached  on all of the issues, perhaps mediation is a way to resolve some of the issues in order for the parties to focus the litigation on the issues that cannot be resolved.  At a minimum, mediation permits conversation about the issues and an understanding of the other party’s point of view.
  1. Be nice and work with each other. Communicating in a respectful manner devoid any negative emotions often go a long way. When frivolous fights are kept to a minimum couples may be better able to resolve the important matters without the court’s intervention.
  2. If Attorneys are involved, do not self-sabotage. Listen to the attorney, but use the attorney only when necessary.  The more frequently an attorney works on the case, the more expensive the bill will get. Some questions require the legal expertise only an attorney can provide, too often people going through a divorce will ask their attorneys basic questions that either the paralegal or assistant can answer at either a much lower rate or for free.
  3. Avoid the Courtroom at all costs, if possible. Spending a great deal of money to engage in a legal battle to prevail, only potentially, is not cost effective. Every matter presented to the Court comes with a calculated risk- in trial there is winner and a loser and the loser may be you.  Often times, even winning may not worth the cost or aggravation.  The Florida courts are backlogged and they encourage couples to resolve their issues in mediation.
  4. Provide paperwork timely. If documents are requested by the other spouse, provide them in a timely and organized manner. Before a divorce is final full financial disclosure is required to one another and to the court.  Basically, this data falls into four categories- income, debts assets and expense.  The more cooperative, the less time will spend on unnecessary tasks.
  5. An attorney is not a therapist. Going through a divorce is difficult.  Use a friend to blow off some steam, to vent, share their fears, or to listen to complaints about the other spouse.  The attorney is there to resolve the legal problems, not deeper emotional traumas. If the client simply wants to rant about the ex, and blow off some steam, or simply share their fears, your divorce attorney may be a very costly way to accomplish that end.
  6. Hire a therapist to help work through the issues in the divorce. There is a certain amount of emotional baggage that divorce professionals are well equipped to address, but they are not there to work with you on your emotional traumas. Hire an
  7. Avoid letting anger or emotions rule. It is tempting to want to punish or blame the other spouse during the divorce process. It will only hurt both spouses and will have an adverse impact on both financial futures.
  8. Focus on the children. When there are children involved, it is important to remember that being a parent should take precedence over any personal differences. For the sake of the children, it is best to keep the children as isolated as possible from marital discord. Keep in mind that despite differences, Parents will need to continue to parent together even if their marriage does not last.

If you or someone you know is divorcing, feel free to contact Deborah Beylus at South Florida Mediation Services to see if mediation is appropriate at (561) 789-0710