A divorce is always a tragedy, especially when there are children involved. The dissolution of a marriage is not something to be taken lightly or rushed into, but sometimes the best thing that can happen is for the partners to go their separate ways. If you find yourself in that situation, you have a lot of things to think about, from who will care for your children and how you and your future ex-spouse can arrange custody to how to divide the assets accumulated during the marriage.
You will also need to think about the cost of the divorce itself. One of the biggest things divorcing couples have to worry about is the cost of the process. They wonder if they will be able to afford to bring a divorce action, and they fret that the process will make an already financially precarious situation that much worse. It is important to keep in mind that every divorce case is unique, and that the costs of the action will vary depending on the circumstances. At the same time, there are some general guidelines Arizona residents can use to estimate the cost of the divorce and budget accordingly.
It is also important to remember that you can do a lot to control the cost of the divorce, but you will not have that same level of control over the actions of your future ex-spouse or the divorce counsel they have hired. You can, however, do a lot to control your own costs as you move forward in the dissolution of the marriage.
Highly contested high net worth divorces
As you might expect, the cost of a contested high net worth divorce will be the highest. You can think of this as the worst-case scenario. If there are significant assets in the marriage and the case is heavily contested, you can expect the costs to rise significantly. In such a case each attorney will likely be engaged in an extensive discovery process, and there will be a protracted period of litigation involved. In this kind of worst-case scenario it is not unusual for legal fees to exceed $50,000 or even $100,000.
There is a lot of money on the line in a high net worth divorce, and both parties may become very aggressive when protecting their rights and fighting for the property they think they are due. The good news is that these high net worth divorces are the exception and not the rule. Most divorce cases do not involve that level of assets or the same sort of acrimony that can drive up costs significantly.
Even in households with a high net worth, if the two parties can agree on basic ground rules and property distribution, the cost of the divorce will likely be far less than the $50,000 minimum for a highly contested action.
Divorce with significant assets, incomes and children
In cases where there is a primary earner and child custody issues involved, the average cost of a divorce generally trends lower. If both parties have hired attorneys and both lawyers conduct pretrial discovery, the legal fees and associated costs should range between $25,000 and $50,000 for each side. Those costs can rise if additional discovery is needed or the legal issues involved are protracted.
If one side or the other is willing to compromise, the costs can be much lower. The contested nature of the divorce is one of the things that really drive up costs. Spouses who simply want to get out of a failed marriage and move on with their lives can incur far lower costs than those who wish to fight over every aspect of the dissolution.
Divorce with modest assets and children
The costs associated with a divorce tend to be far lower in cases where there are no children and a more modest set of marital assets. In a typical case where there is a modest retirement fund, a shared home and a few cars, the cost of the divorce should range between $7,500 and $20,000 for each side. Costs are generally lower for couples without children, but even if children are involved it is possible to keep costs down.
In the end this type of divorce boils down to an examination of the amount each spouse has earned, as well as what they are expected to earn in the future. This examination of income will be used to determine spousal support payments and establish a fair distribution of marital assets.
In a typical case the assets would be divided on a 50/50 basis, but every case is different and not all asset distributions will be split down the middle. Depending on the nature of the assets, the distribution may require the sale of the marital home or the liquidation of other holdings. No two cases are the same, and it is always recommended that each party in the divorce retain their own lawyer. Having your own lawyer is the best way to protect your rights and assets in a divorce.
The lowest cost divorces are generally those that involve an uncontested dissolution and a couple with limited assets. These divorces tend to be the cleanest and simplest to resolve. In these uncontested divorces both parties simply want out of the marriage as quickly and easily as possible. There are limited legal issues involved because there are few assets to fight over or deal with. In many cases there are no children or a single child, and the two parties can work out an equitable custody arrangement with little help from their attorneys.
The best case divorce scenario
In this best-case scenario, the total cost of the legal fees and associated costs of the divorce can be as low as $3,500 to $7,500 per side. Those costs can rise if one or more spouses wants to fight the action or seek a higher percentage of the marital assets.
On the other hand, in cases where the divorce is not contested, the total cost of the action can be less than $3,500 per side. It all depends on the nature of the divorce and the personalities of the two people involved.
Divorce Attorneys in Mesa, Arizona
Minimize the conflict of divorce with the help of a knowledgeable & compassionate Mesa, AZ divorce lawyer. At JacksonWhite Family Law, we take an aggressive approach to fighting for your rights. Our family law team, dedicated to providing our clients with fresh starts. We know your legal issues may be challenging, and we’ll do our best to offer a positive experience along the way. We are ready to help those in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and all of Arizona.