The total cost of a divorce, including attorneys fees, court costs, real estate transfers, and consultant fees varies so widely for any particular couple, that an “average” cost is almost impossible to calculate. The reason being is that there are many different factors that influence the cost.
I once heard that a prominent area divorce attorney had boasted that it had been several years since he’d had a divorce case in which his total fees were less than $100,000. And a full bore, take-no-prisoners, court divorce with contested children’s issues, a self-owned professional practice or business, and a long-time dependent spouse will likely require $100,000 and more per person.
Many cases settle before a full court hearing and, of course, are less costly. The same case that would require more than $100,000 to get a court’s judgment might require $10,000 to $30,000 for each spouse’s attorney if the couple is able to reach a settlement before litigation is filed or if it is settled in the early stages of the court proceedings.
For couples able to cooperate enough to enter into collaborative law proceedings and avoid court altogether, the cost is typically lower. The same case costing more than $100,000 for a court’s judgment, or $10,000 to $30,000 to reach a settlement before the court’s judgment, would likely cost on average $6,000 to $12,000 per attorney (with some cases higher and some lower).
Collaborative divorce can be 75% less expensive!
It’s important to note that less-complicated cases tend to cost less and cases in which there is high conflict and much disagreement, even in the collaborative process, can cost more. So for couples able to set aside hurt, fear, anger, and betrayal at least long enough to agree to the collaborative process for resolving their disagreements, the cost savings for the family as a whole can be significant.