Valentine’s Day is this weekend – which studies say mean divorce attorneys are about to get very busy.
While it only costs $435 to file for a divorce in California, the total for many couples can make several hundred dollars seem tiny. But there were ways to make sure a divorce doesn’t leave you bankrupt.
ABC10 News talked to Sacramento divorce attorney Carol Delzer about what an average divorce costs. The answer?
“It depends on how much money the couple has and how much conflict they want to have. It ranges. If the couple doesn’t have a lot of money, there’s not a lot to fight over,” she said.
If you don’t want to tear your soon-to-be ex to shreds, there are two types of divorce that could save you significant cash.
With mediation, both spouses work with a single mediator to hammer out the terms of the divorce. Delzer said the cost can range from $3,000 to $12,000.
“It does require a level of cooperation and trust in order for parties to mediate. Yes, it’s the least expensive, and it’s the most efficient. But not all parties qualify to be in mediation,” Delzer explained.
Delzer also helped couples seek collaborative divorces. This type of divorce can cost three times as much as mediation, but it also provides a couple with much more support. Each spouse has his or her own attorney, they work with divorce coaches, and there’s a neutral financial professional to help sort out the financial aspects.
Delzer said divorce coaches can help speed along the divorce, while saving couples money in the process.
“Because divorce coaches are mental health professionals, they’re better at [dealing with the emotions], and they’re half the rate that lawyers charge. It can be a lot less expensive to have a collaborative team if there is a lot of conflict, than having all those emotions drive the case,” Delzer said.
Of course, if there is no trust left between spouses, or there’s addiction or domestic violence, Delzer said there may be no choice other than to hire two separate attorneys and go to court.
“It can be exorbitant. I recently had a case where the couple each had spent over $40,000 on litigating custody … and came to me for mediation to settle all the property issues,” Delzer said.