There are many ways to get a divorce, which means there is a wide range of how much a divorce will cost you. Many years before I met my wife, she divorced her first husband for $60. Not only did they not have any possessions to divide, but she was a college student at the time and was able to use the campus attorney for free. In other words, she managed to get divorced for the cost of filing only. Unless you are a member of an organization that offers a limited amount of free legal advice, it’s likely that your divorce will cost more than $60.
On the lower end of the scale, there is such a thing known as the ‘Kitchen Table Divorce.’ Just like the name implies, a couple may elect to figure everything out on their own while sitting at the kitchen table. Once they have decided on the possession schedule of their kids, the amount of spousal support, if any, to be paid, and who is getting what assets or debts, then the next step would be to file a petition for divorce with the county. There are websites online that can help you prepare the documents. These sites are very inexpensive, but I don’t want to mention any here as I do not believe this is the best option.
Moving up the scale of cost, your next option would be to take your agreement to an attorney and have them help you with filing for a divorce. I know attorney in Austin who will charge between $750 and $2500 for their services, plus the filing fees. Keep in mind an attorney can only legally represent one party in the divorce. They will likely explain this to you and recommend that the unrepresented party hire an attorney of their own. This is standard operating procedure.
Just as hiring an attorney to help you file the legal documents with the county will keep you from making mistakes that could be costly or time consuming, you might also consider hiring a CDFA™ or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ to consult you on asset division. This would add an additional cost associated with the divorce, but having the advice a financial professional could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Over the last few months, I have been hired by 3 different couple who want to work with me to assist them in their asset division. In cases like this, I will work with both parties, as a financial neutral. I help them make sure they are thinking of everything when it comes to division of assets, support payments, & taxes. The last couple I worked with paid me $1500 for my services and we found an attorney who charged them $1250, including fees, to help with the filing. All in all, they peacefully dissolved their union for less than $3000. Not bad considering they had a net worth close to $1mm. ($1,000,000)
In this last example, the couple had 2 kids, but they were grown and out of the house. If they had kids under the age of 18 and could not figure the parenting schedule out on their own, then we could have elected to hire one of the many psychotherapists that work with couples to resolve these types of issues. That would have added another $500 to $2000 to the cost of the divorce, depending on how quickly they could come to an agreement. Still, when most attorneys I know ask for $5000 as a retainer to get ‘started’ on the case, and you have to hire 2, you can see why this process might make a lot of sense for a couple who is in agreement on most issues regarding their divorce, and simply need a little guidance in certain areas.
If communication is not at this high level, then of course, the more traditional route of litigation or collaborative law may be the way to go.