In a recent study, 36% of divorced people polled cited “financial problems” as a contributing factor to their divorce. If you and your spouse are facing financial problems — and trying to figure out how to tackle debt and split property after divorce — the perceived divorce cost can cause you to prolong what you feel is inevitable.
Divorce can be very expensive if you end up represented by attorneys and possibly land in court. You begin with a retainer fee for you and your spouse’s attorneys — which is an advance on the attorneys’ hourly fees. In Los Angeles, it can range from $3,000 to $10,000. Hourly fees in L.A. cost $400 to $450 per hour. Do a little math and you can tell that a retainer can be used up very quickly and the costs may mount further. If your divorce ends up in court, the divorce cost could easily double or triple.
These are just averages. When hiring attorneys to represent both parties, an additional source of stress is that you don’t know how much you’ll end up paying in the end. How many billable hours will your divorce take? Will you end up in court? What will court fees cost? Will you have to hire expert witnesses to bolster your case? Not knowing what you will owe at the end of process that takes nearly a year on average is sure to add more tension and worry to a difficult process.
Divorce Mediation: A Better Way
Divorce mediation offers several benefits that attorney-litigated divorces don’t: A simpler fee structure and lower cost, quicker proceedings, and a process that seeks to have both parties agree on tough financial questions, rather than a “winner takes all” result.
Simpler, and smaller, fees.
In divorce mediation, you and your spouse hire one mediator, rather than two attorneys. There is no threat of the divorce ending up in court. And often, a mediation firm will provide a free hour of consultation and a flat-fee divorce cost for simpler cases. You’ll have a much better idea of how much your mediation will cost from the get-go.
A quicker process.
Divorce mediation can shorten the actual time to a finalized divorce. By coming to a divorce mediation agreement quickly, you can move on with your life faster — which can help save money in the long run by allowing you to settle property or move if desired. With mediation, you don’t have to coordinate with four parties (you, your attorney, your spouse, your spouse’s attorney) every time you meet. The mediator’s role is to act as a neutral party, allowing each of you to speak and be heard and to negotiate an agreement, rather than prolong matters by arguing one side against the other. All told, you may be able to finalize in months, not over a year, especially when you are prepared and know what to expect. (The average divorce that ends up in court takes 6 months!)
Coming to an agreement on financial (and other) matters.
In a divorce, finances and property can be a minefield. How will debt be paid if it’s in both of your names? How does a couple split a house, a car, or a business? What are the tax implications of these decisions? Do you need to negotiate alimony or child support? These are tough topics. The goal of your divorce mediator is to help you navigate these questions without fighting, to keep you on topic, and ensure both sides feel heard. Then, they will help you engage in the give-and-take that will ultimately lead to an agreement.
With these benefits, divorce mediation is the simpler, always less expensive solution that will help you get through this difficult time with less stress about the impact on your financial health.
Contact South Bay Mediation to set up a time to ask any questions you have about divorce mediation, or visit our divorce mediation fees page to learn more.