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How Much Does a Simple Divorce Cost?


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Getting a divorce is not only an emotional rollercoaster, but also expensive, particularly if you’re not ready and don’t consider your options. If you both agree to the divorce, the splitting of your property, and your children’s care, comprising of custody, child support, and visitation, then you may file for an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces are straightforward and more affordable than a contested one, when the spouses disagree on one or more of their matters.

If you’re choosing to get a divorce, you need to understand the process, the options you have, the period of time for the legal proceedings to finish, and its cost.

Sometimes People Agree, No Attorneys

You and your spouse may have agreed there will be no attorneys.  For this labyrinth of legal paperwork, you may want to reconsider. But, if you work with an attorney, make sure it’s a lawyer who is actually supportive of settlement.

Primarily, you and your spouse can submit the required documents with the local family court in your area. The Maricopa County Superior Court is going to then provide you with the paperwork you’ll need, like a petition for divorce and a parenting plan, in which details the care for your children. Following you filing your documentation and wait for the required period required by your state laws, you’ll present yourself in front of the judge to complete your divorce. Be sure you comprehend the laws of your state when finishing your forms for divorce, like spousal maintenance, child support and property allocation.

You also have the alternative of filing for an uncontested divorce using online services. Typically, these services are going to walk you through the procedure of completing and filing the required documentations for divorce necessitated by your state. Verify with your state laws to affirm that filing for a divorce online is allowed.

When you file for an uncontested divorce on your own, without the help of a divorce attorney, is the less costly way to go. You’ll have an estimated $300 fee to file your documentation with the court, whether you file on your own or with the assistance of online services. When using an online service to assist you, costs might range from around $150 – $1,500 subject to the service itself and your particular circumstance, in addition to the costs for filing.

Divorcing With an Attorney

When you choose to have an attorney assist you, the attorney is going to advocate on your behalf and your wishes during the divorce process. Retaining an attorney could be helpful when you have a convoluted divorce, or if you both disagree on particular matters.

Attorneys are only able to represent one of the parties; you unable to share an attorney with your almost ex. The attorney is going to guide you through negotiating factors of your divorce, like the splitting of property, the child custody matters and the settling of any debts. After your attorney files all required paperwork and a court date is planned, the attorney is going attend court with you, and submit your case in front of the judge for final resolution.

When you decide to hire an attorney for your uncontested divorce, the cost is going to be less than a contested one. Nevertheless, the more convoluted your case is, or when you do have a contested one, then your attorney fees are going to increase.

Usually, you’ll be required to pay your attorney what is called a “retainer”, or a down payment, between $2,500 – $5,000. The attorney is going to bill you using this retainer until there is no money left. Following that, you might have to put down an added retainer, or your attorney might charge you by the hour. Hourly average attorney costs are anywhere from $150 to $400 each hour.

Using the Collaborative Process

By far the best option we know of to avoid the knee jerk outcome of one of you deciding to get a lawyer and surprising the other, is collaborative process.  In fact, I’d suggest thinking about getting a collaborative process team together before you go to a marriage counselor.  Weird suggestion, I know – but stay with me here.

You go to a counselor, and things don’t get better. You keep going, and one day, you walk out and you’re just done.  You call the lawyer you have secretly been chatting with for months.  “Let’s file.”  Your spouse gets a lawyer, and your lawyer calls you with a warning.  “They hired [fill in the blank with a name from my own list] and your legal fees just doubled.  Tripled, maybe.”

You’re wondering did they get a better lawyer?  No, they to a more expensive lawyer.  Better in divorce isn’t more expensive.  Please don’t confuse the two. You do not get what you pay for.  Every lawyer is serving supplies from the same supply store.

For money someone secured a lawyer who was going to antagonize you, destroy your family, your kids and your finances to make more money.

Now, let’s go with option B.  You each retained a collaborative lawyer.  I’ve seen this play out dozens of times.  You occasionally flare up, but things are stable.  Why?  There is now social accountability and you are each supported and bolstered by a lawyer who you hired to keep things calm.  You can go back to marriage counseling, motivated not by love for the other person.  That may come, and I hope for your sake the love returns.  Your return to marriage counseling is motivated by reality. You now know the law – they do too – and you know that it costs more to leave than to stay.  You are in counseling with an objective that, absent your collaborative lawyers educating you, the objective would never exist.

In collaborative divorces, each spouse has an attorney knowledgeable with this process. Each of the spouses agree to resolve their issues collaboratively. When the spouses can’t agree on particular matters, they then can head to court to resolve any outstanding matters. The expense range for a collaborative divorce may start about $10,000, subject to how complex your case is.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to be collaborative.  You don’t have to change who you are.  You are still you, just getting on a different roller coaster.

You have a multitude of ways to get divorced, and the expenses vary. Be sure to verify with your state’s laws to understand what options you have. When you think you and your spouse can agree on critical issues, then an uncontested divorce might be the best answer all around.  Rule 67.1 in Arizona codifies collaborative process.  Literally any lawyer in the state can use collaboration to help you.  Not all of them should.  We have a list of the good collaborative lawyers.

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