Whether you are finally emotionally ready for divorce or have come to the upsetting realization that you cannot save your marriage, there is one major question you must ask yourself before you begin the legal process. That question is, can you afford to get a divorce?
Most people save up for years to have their dream weddings. However — and understandably — very few plan financially for their divorces. Yet, given that nearly 50% of all U.S. marriages end in divorce, couples should aside some funds for this devastating possibility. If you wonder just how much “some” is, consider U.S. News’ cost breakdown of divorce.
The average cost of divorce
The cost of divorce varies greatly and is dependent upon several factors, most of which are unique to a couple’s situation. Because of this, U.S. News suggests using the average as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. That said, the publication suggests saving at least $15,000 before you file. That estimate, though far too low, accounts for attorney fees, filing fees, separate living expenses and fees associated with selling the home.
Calculate the cost of attorney fees
Attorney fees will be your biggest expense in divorce, hands down. A retainer alone can cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. If your legal costs exceed the retainer, you may have to pay an additional $200 to $2,000 per hour. As with the total cost of divorce, the estimated cost of attorney fees varies drastically, ranging from $2,000 to $50,000 per divorce.
Compute filing costs
Unlike attorney fees, the costs of filing paperwork are fairly standard across the court systems. The initial filing fee ranges from $150 to $400, depending on where you live. Each time you file an additional motion, you are looking at paying another $100.
Consider separate living expenses
If you and your spouse decide to live in separate homes while your case progresses, carefully consider your budget. Though your living expenses may remain the same, your household income is now divided.
Even if you and your spouse continue to live under the same roof, chances are you will each take on your separate expenses, such as cell phone, car insurance, car payments, etc. Calculate these separate costs when computing how much to save for divorce.
The bottom line is, divorce can quickly become expensive, but it does not have to. If you and your spouse simply cannot remain married but are unwilling to go into financial ruin to separate, consult with an experienced attorney regarding ways to keep your divorce costs minimal. Doing so is possible, and the right lawyer can show you how.