One of the first questions asked about divorce is, “How much will my divorce cost?” The cost is driven by the amount of work in your circumstance. A simple agreed divorce (or uncontested divorce) is the least expensive. The cost increases if there are disagreements to resolve. Cost also goes up if there are additional documents to complete, such as deeds, corporate documents, and documents needed to divide retirement accounts. Children also impact the cost of divorce.
Disagreements add significantly to the cost and the time needed to divorce. They must be resolved either by negotiation, alternative dispute resolution (such as mediation), or ultimately by a court or arbitrator. The cost goes up because of the additional work and resources needed to address the disagreements. This does not mean that anyone should just give in on important points. It does mean is that there are budget and cost/benefit analyses to be considered when considering disagreements in divorce.
Property (and Property Transfers)
The amount of property owned by the spouses also add to the cost of divorce – in large part because this property must be inventoried and then split between the parties. In addition to a divorce decree, promissory notes and deeds to transfer real property interests may be needed. Corporate documents transferring or waiving any business or corporate interests may also be required. A Qualified Domestic Relations Orders may also be needed to divide retirement accounts (such as 401(k)’s, IRA’s, etc.) and pensions. Powers of attorney may also be needed to transfer title to motor vehicles and other property.
Finally, minor children necessarily add to the cost of divorce. A divorce decree must address parentage rights and duties, a possession schedule, and support.
The cost of divorce is related directly to the amount of work needed to do the job well and correctly. It’s also inextricably tied to the amount of drama and disagreement in the divorce. Talk to your lawyer about these and other factors in your divorce. Your lawyer will help you understand the costs associated with your divorce. Your attorney can also help you make sound business decisions that will maximize the amounts invested in your divorce. Costs can be minimized if resources are strategically used and balanced with good business judgment.
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Patric McCallum is a principal attorney with Drew & McCallum. He focuses his practice on family and business law, helping business leaders and Texas families with their legal challenges and needs. He brings a wealth of trial experience and industry knowledge to every matter he handles.