Do you like to waste money? NO. I don’t think there’s anyone who does. It’s one thing when you spend it while doing something fun, like traveling or playing golf or falling in love with a handbag. That’s not “wasting” money. But it’s a different story when we’re talking about something painful, like the divorce process. And, unless both spouses can agree about how to divide assets and liabilities, or how to establish a parenting plan, divorce will be costly. Unfortunately, there’s no specific formula to calculate the exact amount of money (or stress or time) that a divorce will cost you. However, there are many factors that will come into play, depending on how contentious the process is. Even when you think that it should be a straightforward process because it was a short marriage or there aren’t that many assets or you have no kids, once you open that can of worms, costs will start adding up, quickly.
Calculating Litigation Costs
Every time you meet with your attorney to discuss your case, every phone call with him, and every email you exchange will be added to your billing statement. And those are the easier, quick portions. Add the time it takes to draft your petition for dissolution of marriage or to personalize your request for mandatory disclosure (a long list of financial documents required by the Florida Family Law Rules). Add the time to review those documents when your lawyer receives them from your spouse; add the time you spend to pull together your own and then your lawyer must spend to respond to the same request.
What about your children? You have to draft a proposed parenting plan and calculate the appropriate amount of Child Support. You have to schedule mediation, and spend anywhere from a couple of hours to a full day mediating. If you mediate successfully, someone will have to draft your marital settlement agreement. If there’s no agreement at mediation, you might as well turn over your life savings for trial preparation and trial.
Then there are the incidental costs, like home appraisals, subpoenas of bank records, hiring experts, and so on. The process can leave you broke or in debt. To add insult to injury, there’s the emotional toll it will take on you and your family. You will get angry, you will get defensive, you will cry, you will take things personally. . . and you will want to retaliate.
What for? You’ll pad your lawyer’s pockets, and, at the end of the day, you’ll feel like he put you through a wringer. We’re talking about your family here. Is all this really necessary?
The Collaborative Divorce Option
The answer is no. Ask a family law attorney about the collaborative divorce process. You and your soon to be ex-spouse hire attorneys, a financial advisor to help you reach sound decisions, and a mental health professional for when emotions get the best of you. You get to keep your information private, and you get to avoid a lengthy and drawn-out court battle.
Litigation is an ugly process that should only be considered as a last resort. Let Open Palm Law take some of the burden off your shoulders by discussing your options for a divorce process. In an uncertain financial landscape, it pays off to invest in your peace of mind.
Follow Open Palm Law to learn more about the collaborative divorce process and how it can help you!
About this week’s authors: Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as professor in law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.