What Makes A Divorce So Expensive?

Father carries baby on shoulders outside

Many people share the impression that getting divorced will come with a hefty price tag. It is true that there are likely to be costs involved, but getting divorced doesn't necessarily mean that it's bound to leave you completely broke.

Much of what determines the cost of a divorce is how those involved choose to handle the legal process. However, deciding how to handle a divorce case is significantly impacted by the level of cooperation or conflict that exists between the two divorcing parties. More cooperative, amicable parties may find that their divorce will cost less and take less time than parties who are uncooperative and face several unresolved disputes. That said, there are other factors to take into account when considering why a divorce can become so expensive. Moreover, not every cost involved in a divorce has a monetary price.

How a Divorce Can Become So Expensive

Monetary Costs

Every divorce is different, but the reasons for which a divorce is prolonged and becomes expensive can prove to look somewhat similar from case to case. Fierce conflict, deeply-rooted disputes, and a lack of cooperation can put both divorcing parties at risk for spending more money and more time on the matter. The reason these factors can exacerbate the cost of a divorce is because in many situations, attorneys and other family law practitioners get involved and the case is taken to court, perhaps several times over.

While it indeed is wise to seek help from an experienced divorce lawyer during this process, lawyer fees can become expensive very quickly. Meetings, emails, and phone calls with your divorce lawyer can add up in cost. You'll probably end up paying even more if you need to take your case back to court later on.

More than fees related to court or lawyers, costs can also add up when you start working with other professionals such as divorce coaches, therapists, parenting coordinators, and other legal or mental health practitioners. Again, the services of these other professionals can be invaluable to those going through a divorce, yet the cost of these services can add to the total cost of the divorce.

Emotional Costs

More than money, divorce can quickly cost a family on many other levels. Parenting conflict often comes with an emotional cost that affects the whole family, even children. To a child, their parents' divorce might feel like the end of their family. It can be hard for young children to cope with all of the changes that take place such as one of their parents moving to a new home. If both parents must move, the child will feel the impact of the divorce even more since they'll have to change homes, too. Experiencing their parents' divorce can be emotionally taxing on a child, and the consequences of this can be tremendous if precautions aren't taken to help uphold their emotional well-being early on in the process.

The longer a contentious divorce is drawn out, the more emotionally expensive the whole ordeal becomes for everyone touched by it. A costly divorce can lead to worries over money, which can lead to even greater emotional distress to those paying the costs.

Avoiding an Expensive Divorce

Divorce is hard, and each party involved wants to do the best they can to protect themselves and the things that they value. If the parties believe that they can stay peaceful but are having trouble finalising some issues, working with an alternative dispute resolution practitioner or a mediator can be very helpful. A mediator or ADR practitioner will act as a neutral third party to help divorcing parties discuss and reach agreements on all sorts of matters. Mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution might not go without some moments of tension, but divorcing parties who are willing to communicate and work together to reach agreements, this option can be a great way to handle a divorce that can help to keep costs down.

Another alternative method for handling a divorce is through collaborative practice. In this option, both parties each have their own lawyer, and all four individuals met on various occasions to discuss and settle on the terms of the divorce. A mediator may even be involved in this process to facilitate discussions. Like mediation, collaborative practice works best when both parties are willing to cooperate to reach agreements that are favourable on both sides. If at any point is this process an agreement cannot be reached, it ends, and the parties will go to court to settle.

If divorcing parties can find a way to communicate clearly, they may have more success in settling disputes and reducing divorce costs for everyone involved. Using an application like the OurFamilyWizard website can help co-parents improve communication and make it easier to handle parenting issues on their own. The OFW web and mobile apps are comprised of several tools that allow parents to input the details of their parenting plan–including the parenting schedule, expense responsibility agreements, shared forms and files, and more–and maintain a shared log of communication in regards to everything related to raising their kids.

If parents are working with someone such as a lawyer or mediator, they can each grant those individuals access to work with them directly through the website. Courts around the world are recommending the use of the OurFamilyWizard website, but you don't need a court order to get started. Many parents choose to use these tools to keep their information organised and well documented. Co-parents may quickly find that by using these tools, their chances of reaching agreements on their own improves, which can mean significant savings on lawyers fees and court costs.

What makes a divorce so expensive has a lot to do with conflict and disagreements. Frequent miscommunication doesn't help to lower costs, either. If you can handle your case using an alternative method to litigation, you're likely to find yourself saving some money. The emotional expense of a divorce can be lowered if both parents are dedicated to keeping the situation as peaceful as possible. The OurFamilyWizard tools can help to support parents in their effort to keep the peace.