Saving on Divorce Costs

Laura Joszt

For physicians, divorces occur 10% to 20% more often than the national average and is one of the biggest threats to a physician's financial health; but here are five less expensive alternatives to avoid costly litigation.

The divorce rate is high enough in the U.S., but for physicians it’s even higher. Studies show that marriages involving one or more physicians occur 10% to 20% more often than the national average. According to Jenny Harmon, CPA, divorce is one of the biggest threats to a physician’s financial health (next to taxes and professional liability).

No one enters a marriage expecting it to end badly; however, if it seems like you’re heading in that direction, you should know the extra financial costs. Based on various estimates, a divorce can cost between $10,000 and $30,000, MoneyCrashers.com reported.

Going into the cost of a divorce are legal fees and payments to tax advisors, financial experts to value jointly owned businesses, vocational experts, etc. The importance of a vocational expert is to quantify your spouse’s income earning potential to determine support.

To help cut down on some of the costs of divorce, MoneyCrashers.com has come up with five less expensive alternatives to avoid a litigated divorce in court involving pricey expert witnesses and court costs. The costs of the divorce very much depend on if you and your spouse can agree on division, or if the two of you need legal representation.

Arbitration

The spouses have to present essentially the same information needed in a litigated divorce so a third party can make a binding decision. Arbitration is less formal and can take less time, cutting down on court costs and hourly fees. However, each spouse needs to hire a lawyer and pay divorce filing fees as well as pay the arbitrator.

Collaboration divorce

The goal is to avoid litigation by getting each side to come to an agreement on the essential issues of the divorce. You still file in court, pay filing fees and hire your own lawyers, but there is no third-party. However, like arbitration, this type of divorce is quicker than litigation and avoids those extra costs. According to MoneyCrashers.com, estimates suggest that a collaboration divorce costs between 20% and 40% less than a litigated divorce.

Mediation

If you and your spouse cannot agree on custody, support, how assets and property should be divided, etc., then a third-party mediator can help an agreement to be reached. A mediator doesn’t make any decisions or give orders; instead, it’s up to both sides to be reasonable and committed to avoiding litigation. Typically, mediation costs 20% less than litigation.

Flat-fee divorce

As the name suggestions, these divorces are available for a flat rate instead of hourly fees. Typically, both spouses work with one attorney. However, the attorney doesn’t negotiate issues of custody, support or asset division or help beyond procedural steps. It’s up to both you and your spouse to agree, but attorneys advertise flat-fee divorces for as little as $300, according to MoneyCrashers.com.

DIY divorce

The least expensive method, you obtain the court papers, complete them and submit them without any legal representation. As such, this type of divorce is limited just to the cost of filing fees. However, just like a flat-fee divorce, it is up to the spouses to ensure they don’t agree to something they regret later.

If you’ve ever gone through a divorce, what method did you use? Would you be comfortable going through a divorce without legal representation?

Read more:

How Much Does a Divorce Cost? - MoneyCrashers.com

The Top Five Mistakes Couples Make in Divorce