Union County Family Lawyers Discuss “The Cost(s) of Divorce”
Divorce is not a cheap ordeal. Read on to learn more about the cost of divorce, and how to fund the process.
The cost of a divorce varies greatly and depends upon a number of factors, including whether you and your spouse are undergoing private mediation or litigation, how many marital assets you have, and even whether you and your ex get along. In fact, the cost of divorce is one reason that some couples decide not to pursue it; in many cases, spouses feel trapped in a marriage because the cost of getting out of it is simply too high. Or, they feel concerned that during and after the divorce process, they will not have the funds to take care of themselves and their family. This is especially true for low-to-middle-income spouses with children or spouses who are unemployed — how will I make ends meet when I am a single parent, or when I do not have financial support and am not in the workforce?
Deciding to divorce is a huge life decision that merits exploration if it is in the best interest of you and your family – and with proper research and legal counsel, it can be obtained in a way that doesn’t break the bank.
Financially, where do you stand?
Whether or not you have played an active role in the financial dealings of your family, it is important to know what the specifics are of your marital finances in preparation for divorce. Some considerations are the following:
- Is there a home loan? What is its value, and how much is left to pay on the loan?
- What assets does the family have? This could include the home, vehicles, savings accounts, stocks, valuable items, retirement funds, etc.
- Is there a possibility that one spouse would stay in the marital home upon divorce, given the mortgage, utility, and maintenance payments required? This question is especially important if children are involved, as maintaining the house would mean children could maintain a sense of stability and easily attend the same school.
- If there are children, what are the costs involved in their upbringing; for example insurance, school and extracurricular activities, insurance, and recurring medical expenses, etc.?
What expenses go into the divorce process?
One initial consideration spouses must make as they begin the divorce process is whether or not they will continue to live in the marital home. As such, considering the cost of a rental apartment or other living accommodation is key to taking the first steps towards divorce. Ultimately, a divorce settlement seeks to ensure that each spouse is able to continue to have the type of lifestyle they had as a married couple. While there will, of course, be some downsizing, you can count on an experienced divorce attorney to help ensure that your lifestyle is maintained. Which is why it is essential to not skimp on a quality family law attorney.
Depending on your financial capacity, you can pay a divorce attorney in a number of ways; ultimately, you will be required to pay an initial retainer for legal representation, and then ongoing throughout the process. If you and your spouse have an amicable relationship and a joint savings account, you can agree to divide it immediately at the beginning of the proceedings; from here, each spouse can draw funds for their legal representation, as well as other initial expenses. In addition to establishing a positive emotional climate in which the divorce will occur, it encourages you both to expedite the process and collaborate as much as possible.
So what happens when one spouse doesn’t have the income to pay legal expenses? In many cases, one spouse stays at home, perhaps to raise the couple’s children. When there is no agreement to split a joint account, and one spouse does not have the capacity to pay the legal retainer, a judge will sometimes order that the working spouse cover the initial costs for both parties. This often comes in the form of the no- or low-income spouse applying for pendente lite support, which removes the unfair external burden of lack of funds while the divorce moves forward by establishing temporary spousal support for the duration of the proceedings. In other cases, joint assets are used to cover the costs and taken into consideration as the assets are later fairly divided.
Consult a Union County NJ Divorce Attorney to Guide You Through the Process
Divorce is a complicated and costly matter, but it can be navigated with quality support. At Law Office of Edward S. Cooper, our team of family law attorneys supports clients across Clark, Roselle, Roselle Park, Garwood, Elizabeth, and throughout Union County, Essex County, and northern Middlesex County in all divorce and child custody proceedings.