The other day I was online and I happened upon a group for people getting divorced. I was fascinated by the conversation taking place which went something like this (names changed to protect privacy).
Good morning ladies! Last night I had a meeting with a lawyer to start my divorce process. She asked $2,500 for the deposit and her hourly rate is $275. These numbers are so intimidating, especially when I have no idea how long it’s going to take to get this done. How much did you spend on your divorce?
I think my retainer fee was around $2,500 also – I still have $1,000 on my account and I can’t get it back. I hired her in February and after being told that the divorce will take 3 months, she finally finished it in September – 7 months later. My ex and I disagreed on very little – the delays were all on the attorney’s side by not sending the papers to me and also not asking me the right questions.
My deposit was $5,000 and the hourly rate was $500 an hour. Yikes! I don’t think we’ve gone through the $5,000 yet, but it’s not even close to being over.
$12,000 and took 18 months.
This was only part of the conversation, which continued with more of the same. Each person is paying significant sums of money just to be able to move on with their lives. It’s painful to watch in some cases a couple’s entire estate depleted as they work through their attorneys to complete their divorce. It’s hard to imagine that an entire lifetime of savings can be exhausted through the divorce process, but it’s important to remember that the fees mentioned above are actually doubled, with each spouse paying similar sums (or higher) to their respective legal counsel. This is your savings that could otherwise have gone toward a child’s college fund, the cost to establish new living arrangements, to fund your retirement, or other expenses.
Mediation costs differ substantially from the debilitating cost of divorcing through attorneys. One consideration with mediation is that the costs are not doubled, as the divorcing individuals are working with a single mediator. Secondly, the total cost for mediation is in the range of $3,000 - $5,000, while the starting point via attorneys is often $5,000 per side for just the retainer fee. Mediation might not be the right path for all but you owe it to yourself to explore it as an option. Maintain control over your divorce process and over your life savings: try mediation.