If you are considering a divorce, you may be ecstatic, scared, relieved or miserable, depending on the circumstances and your own outlook. One thing for sure though, is that the divorce is going to cost quite a bit of money. The more your net worth, typically, the more expensive the divorce. The more attorneys are involved, the higher the cost. For the affluent, the cost is usually $50,000 to a half million dollars.
Even middle class parties will end up spending a substantial sum on the divorce, depleting assets needed for a post-divorce lifestyle. According to one authority, the average cost of a divorce in Texas is $15,600 if there are no children and $23,500 if there are.
THE FACTS OF LIFE
These numbers are actually very low if the couple engages in spiteful and litigious behaviors. One can slow down a divorce, make it more painful, and make it cost much more, but it will still be a fact of life if one party wants it, and that person does not run out of money or credit. Attorneys do not seem to mind if you must drain your savings and your retirement accounts or max out your credit cards. The more conflict, the more expensive the divorce. The greater the control by attorneys, the greater the cost.
And the above estimates do not include the loss of medical insurance or the increased taxes for a single individual versus a married couple. The estimates do not consider the fact that you may now be stretching the same income to support two separate houses.
SKILLED MEDIATOR PRESERVES WEALTH
If two attorneys are haggling over your assets and child-related issues, it will be a very expensive divorce indeed. Ideally, you get help from a neutral third party, like a mediator, to resolve major issues before handing the mediated settlement agreement off to one attorney to draft into a decree. Of course, you and your soon-to-be ex disagree on many issues. But a skilled mediator guides you to see the big picture and how to preserve your wealth while achieving a peaceful divorce.
A problem arises frequently when you seek such a neutral mediator online. You will note that mediators are invariably attorneys who will only mediate when two attorneys are representing their clients. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, I do not require the dueling attorneys at mediation, though I do usually have a family law attorney working as a co-mediator.
To quote an article from the Nolo legal website “When you are emotionally distraught or angry, turning all the details and hassle of a divorce over to a lawyer may seem like a perfect solution. Unfortunately, it can turn out to be a deal with the devil. Most observers and people who have been through an acrimonious divorce agree that lawyers frequently make things worse, not better.”
A COUPLE’S PERSPECTIVES
Attorneys are enriched and often overjoyed to see the couple go to war. From the wife’s perspective, she is typically giving up the primary support for the family and often returning to work after concentrating on the care of children for years instead of building a career. From the husband’s perspective, he will now be paying 20% to 40% of his AFTER-TAX income to his ex-wife as child support. Even if this is not your scenario, your budget is going to need to be completely revised in relation to expected income sources, new tax bracket and new expenses.
It is ironic that the couple greatly benefits from cooperating with each other (often through a skilled mediator) to save the pain of an ugly divorce when they could not cooperate enough to stay married. Still, both will benefit emotionally and financially from a peaceful divorce. And if there are children involved, they, too will be saved from the stress of an emotionally wrenching legal battle.
For more information on how a cooperative divorce could work for you, call mediator Patricia Barrett at 832-858-0099.