“How much does a divorce cost?” That is one of the most common questions people ask me on a daily basis. And, I have the same answer every time:

It depends.

This article is mainly for people who have an attorney and either paid a large retainer, or receive monthly bills in the mail. If you are representing yourself, pro se, then your legal expenses are greatly reduced.

I’m not a math guy, but I have developed a formula to calculate how much your divorce will cost you. It’s a formula that has worked every time it’s used and is a sure-fire way to forecast your legal expenses during the divorce process.

Here it is:

Fighting = $$$.

Not what you expected?

Like I said, I’m no math guy. I’m The Divorce Resource Guy!

Think about it for a second. Your attorney bills you for the time he/she spends working on your case, right? This is anything from phone calls, review of documents to attending court hearings.   Ok, now that we have that settled…

HOW CONTENTIOUS IS YOUR DIVORCE?

Let’s say your divorce is contentious. Either you or your spouse, or both of you, are constantly at each other’s throats (figuratively, or else that’s domestic violence) and love complaining to your lawyers about what the other one is doing to you. Remember, each time you call your lawyer, that’s money being spent by you!

What if it’s just your spouse who is being difficult? Let’s say he/she likes to have their lawyer write multiple letters every week about every issue they can come up with, or maybe they file frequent motions in court so you have to take time off work to appear.

Does any of this sound familiar to your case? If not, consider yourself lucky!

Every letter your lawyer has to read from your spouse’s lawyer costs YOU money. It’s not like your lawyer can ignore correspondence that comes in the mail. What if it was actually important?! And, now it’s likely that your lawyer has to bill you to respond to all these letters. It’s a vicious cycle.

HOW TO KEEP THE LEGAL BILL DOWN.

It’s simple really. Stop fighting. The less fighting between you and your spouse, the lower your legal bill will be because your lawyer will be spending less time billing you. See how that works?

Fighting = $$$.

Your spouse should care about the money he/she is spending on the divorce. Even if there is a lot of money to spend, wouldn’t they rather use it for something else other than their attorney on their divorce? You would think so.

However, when you are in the middle of it and emotions are high, people do strange things and sometimes act irrationally.

A good attorney will attempt to talk his/her client down from an irrational state. But , if you have the wrong attorney, they will capitalize on your fragile state and milk it for every dollar they can. Hey, it’s not their assets…it’s YOURS!

Sometimes, you can’t convince your spouse not to fight. I always tell my clients:

You can only control what you do, not what the other person does.

I remember one case I had where I was representing the wife. From the beginning she said that her husband told her he would spend all their assets so she was left with nothing when it was over.

Nice guy, right?

During the process, she repeatedly got furious and kept asking me what I could do to stop him because she was using up all her assets to pay her legal bills. Unfortunately, I told her there is not much she can do. If he was intent on spending a lot of money litigating, there is not much you can do to prevent that. He contested custody and therefore the court ordered a custody evaluation. That alone is easily $10,000.   Then there was the frequent motions, letters, etc.

Oh, did I mention the private forensic accountant we had to hire to figure out his true income?

Constant issues, which I had no choice but to respond to and fight back.

I wish there was more I could do, but I could not control how he acted. Unfortunately, his attorney supported this tactic and there you have it.

If you can convince your spouse that it is better to get an amicable divorce, that will substantially reduce the legal bill. Think about it this way…

The money spent on a contentious divorce could pay for your children’s college education.

If both parties can get on the same page on this issue, then maybe then can go to mediation and settle. That is the most economical method to get divorced and generally the quickest.

You don’t have to be a math whiz to see the writing on the wall. You may hate your spouse and want to inflict pain and emotional distress during the divorce, but ask yourself if it is really worth the financial bill it will cost you.

If you don’t believe me…ask your therapist. I hope you have one.

Be strong, act confident, stay positive!

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PPS. If you haven’t yet, join my private Facebook Divorce Group to meet others dealing with divorce issues similar to yours.