Monday, July 15, 2024

If there is an easy point of agreement in the emotional upheaval of divorce, it is that endless legal battles can break the bank.Hourly attorney fees can hit the high three figures, according to Nicole Feuer, the vice president of development and operations for the National Association of Divorce Professionals, a group of 600 divorce attorneys. The association estimates that the average cost of a divorce is $15,000 to $20,000, but contested divorces can be far more expensive. Disagreements over issues like child custody may take years to resolve and can push costs well over $100,000.This has been the case for Maggie Kim, who has been mired in six years of negotiations with her former husband. Every five weeks, she flies from her home in Santa Monica, Calif., to see her two teenage children in Paris, where her former husband won custody. Ms. Kim, a 50-year-old musician and the writer of Divorce or Die, a Substack newsletter, has spent about $400,000 on her divorce, not including travel costs. This is money, she said ruefully, that would have been much better spent paying for her children’s college educations.“I’ve retained 16 law firms across three countries, and it’s very hard to find a lawyer who defends your interests,” she said. She has paid for legal fees with her earnings and “11 maxed-out credit cards, a personal loan, a loan from one of my best friends.”The greatest challenge of getting divorced, many learn, can be trying to negotiate and control powerful emotions: anger, betrayal, grief, rage, disappointment. Too often, with lawyers as costly proxies, a warring couple’s every unresolved issue costs more and more money.“I say to my clients all the time: You’re making the biggest legal and financial decisions of your life in the middle of the worst moment,” said Kate Anthony, who produces a podcast called “The Divorce Survival Guide” and who has trained to work with couples in high-conflict marriages and those involving domestic violence.Choosing to immediately “lawyer up” — often a default choice — “is one of the worst things you can do,” she added. “The family court system loves a divorce. That’s how they make their money, off the rage and bitterness.”But there are ways to reduce the stress and expense of ending a marriage. These options include using a document service (ideally reviewed by a lawyer), mediation and collaborative divorce.Vanessa McGrady, a writer in California who was married for three years and who became a parent during that time, said that she “realized there were some insurmountable issues” with her former husband and chose to use the document service We the People for her divorce.“It was not contentious, and it was easier because we didn’t have assets together,” she said. “We had no I.R.A.s. It was my condo and I was making the payments.” She recommends having a lawyer review a document divorce to ensure that it is done correctly.The process took a year and cost less than $2,000 because she had hashed out issues with her ex before their divorce proceedings, she said. Ms. McGrady, 55, was glad to have saved thousands of dollars for her own retirement or for her daughter’s future needs. “I don’t know anyone who’s had as simple and easy a divorce as we did, even though it was frustrating and sad at times,” she said. “Before you go down the rabbit hole of rage and revenge, think where you want your money to go.”AbschnittCreate section

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles