How Can You Bring Down the Cost of Divorce?
Beyond doing everything you can to avoid a trial, survey results pointed to some other possibilities for lowering the cost of divorce.
Uncontested divorce. Nearly a third (30%) of readers said they had no major contested issues in their divorces, and their costs were much lower than the overall average: $4,100, on average, including attorneys’ fees. They also got through the process more quickly—an average of eight months. Many of these readers may have been eligible to take advantage of a streamlined divorce process known as an “uncontested divorce” or a “summary dissolution,” which is available in many states for couples who meet specific requirements.
Mediation or collaborative divorce. Some couples turn to collaborative divorce or mediation in an attempt to reach a settlement agreement. Neither of these alternatives works for everyone, but they could save you money. Nearly a third of the readers in our survey tried mediation; on average, they spent $970 on mediation costs, although half spent $500 or less.
Consulting attorneys. If you can’t afford to hire a full-scope divorce attorney, it’s still wise to seek out legal advice or help at some point along the way—especially to make sure that your rights are protected in any settlement. You might be able to hire a consulting attorney for specific tasks, such as helping you understand and complete divorce forms, preparing for mediation, drafting or reviewing a proposed settlement agreement, or representing you in court appearances. In our survey, only one in 10 readers said they had hired a consulting lawyer in their divorce. But those readers typically saved a lot of money on attorneys’ fees; the average total fees for consulting attorneys were $4,600, and the median total was $3,000.