We estimate that the average divorce case in our office will cost about $15,000 in attorney fees and expenses (filing fees, deposition fees, expert fees, investigative fees, etc.). That being said, however, some cases in fact cost less and some cost more.
The cost of your case will depend on a variety of factors, including:
- The number and complexity of the contested issues between you and your husband;
- Whether you and your husband want to argue over every issue, or whether you and he can make compromises and reach a settlement to end the matter quickly;
- The level of distrust, anger, competitiveness, hurt, and bitterness that exists between you and him;
- Whether you or your husband is hyper-competitive and feels the need to always “win” every issue and never compromise;
- Whether you or your spouse wants (or needs) complete discovery of all assets and liabilities; and
- Whether your husband’s attorney is oriented to settlement or to litigation (going to trial is almost always more expensive than reaching a settlement).
Here are several tips for keeping your legal fees down and running an effective case:
- Listen to our advice. We are experienced and know the law and the range of outcomes that judges are most likely to impose in a given situation.
- Trust us to guide you through this process and trust yourself. We’ll answer your questions so that you can make informed choices between alternatives. Trust your intelligence and common sense. You don’t want to spend a lot of money to have us over-explain every detail or rehash your prior decisions.
- Don’t view litigation as recreation.
- Don’t view litigation against your spouse as a weapon of revenge. (In fact, if you’re looking for a “Rambo” style litigator who will engage in an all-out, no-holds-barred approach to punish your spouse, I suggest you hire another lawyer.)
- Don’t pay us for our legal advice and then disregard it. This, frankly, makes no sense. We have your best interest firmly in mind. We want you to win. We’ll give you good, reasonable advice. But if you later get free advice over coffee or at the gym that differs from ours, bear in mind that advice is generally worth what you pay for it.
- Don’t endlessly consider and reconsider litigation decisions that have been made. Before we embark on any course of action, we’ll present the alternatives and their probable consequences to you so that you can choose which alternative you want us to pursue. Once you have made your decision, we generally recommend you stick to the decision, unless new information comes to light. Being decisive helps you win in all aspects of life, no less in your divorce case.
- Don’t prohibit us from writing letters, filing motions or taking other necessary action on your behalf because it costs money. In fact, you should avoid an attorney who takes a smaller retainer but doesn’t file motions or write letters. In the long run, failing to write letters, file motions, and deal with issues proactively can wind up costing you more. We are continually making cost/benefits assessments of various courses of action, and we are focused on winning for you. We will not file every possible motion, but we will file those that are aimed at achieving your strategic objectives.
- Don’t talk to your spouse or sign any document with him that we have not seen. The amount of legal work to attempt to undo the damage can be very costly – and sometimes an agreement or transaction that’s bad for you simply can’t be undone. Do show us proposed agreements and transactions first.
Finally, when you consider “costs,” you should consider that there are three kinds: your time, your emotions and your money.
First, bear in mind that you will have to spend time working with us and preparing your lawsuit. If you’re not prepared to spend the time to do the work, your case will not be presented as well or as efficiently as it will if you put in the time. The quicker we can come to agreement on an issue, the less time you will have to invest on that issue and can move on to other matters.
Second, divorce is one of the most emotionally painful experiences you can go through. The longer the process takes, the more damaging it can be to you emotionally. The quicker you get through the divorce process, the sooner you can start the process of rebuilding your life and healing from the emotional pain.
Third, because preparing and trying a lawsuit is very expensive, we encourage you to reach agreements where that can be done as early as possible. We won't recommend a bad deal or that you give in to an unreasonable demand, but we'll recommend that you carefully consider the issues on which you could compromise. This will allow you and us to focus our time and energy on the other issues in your case where there may be little to no room for compromise.