Even in the easiest divorce, there are expenses. Splitting one household into two always results in higher expenses for each person. Even if the couple comes to an agreement on their own, there are court filing fees and other unavoidable costs. The simplest divorce is actually more expensive than the simplest marriage!
And most divorces come with many more expenses than just a court filing fee and increased living expenses. Most divorces involve attorneys and other expensive professionals. Valuation of assets can be costly. Battling experts drive the cost up even further. And the longer the divorce, the greater the cost.
Many people don’t realize that there are different divorce processes one can choose from.
And the choice of process can greatly affect the amount that your divorce will end up costing you. Couples who choose alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or collaboration typically have cheaper divorces than those who litigate the end of their marriages. Sadly, many folks enter into litigation never realizing that there are less expensive routes they could have taken.
Litigation is usually more expensive because the job of the trial attorneys is to wage war against each other, drafting motions and setting hearings to resolve even the simplest of disagreements. Battling experts are extremely expensive, but often necessary. Litigation is an adversarial process, and, if it persists for any length of time, parents inevitably become enemies, not because of the divorce but because of the combative nature of litigation.
Mediation, in which the parties sit down with a neutral mediator who facilitates their negotiations, is almost always required by the judge during litigation because it is so successful. But many divorcing parties don’t realize that they can skip litigation altogether and go straight to mediation, resolving their divorce with just the help of a mediator in one or two mediation sessions. Parties don’t even need to be represented by their own counsel, and, if the mediator is an attorney, the parties can rest easy that their agreement, should they reach one, is drafted correctly.
Collaborative divorce is also generally less costly than litigation. In this form of alternative dispute resolution, each client is represented by an attorney, and, together, the parties retain a facilitator and a financial professional, both neutral. The clients often meet “offsides” with one or both neutrals to review the parenting and financial information and issues before the full team convenes.
The goal of the process is to identify and then meet each client’s most critical goals and interests. While each meeting is expensive because of the number of professionals involved, collaborative divorces are usually resolved in just a few months and a few meetings. Therefore, it is frequently much less expensive than litigation. The cost is further driven down because the clients hire experts together, rather than each hiring experts who battle against one another.
Perhaps of most importance, there are also many non-financial benefits to collaboration because the goal is not to destroy the already fragile relationship between the spouses or parents. Instead, the team focuses on helping the clients to reach a fair resolution while learning significant skills that will help them to communicate and co-parent going forward.
As you can readily see, while a divorce is never free, it can be reasonable.
LEARN MORE ABOUT COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE. FOLLOW OPEN PALM LAW.
About this week’s author Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of 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 in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.