Why the Average Divorce Costs as Much as a Luxury Car

Katelyn Morgan

Ending a marriage is almost always difficult, both emotionally and financially. Yet many couples move forward with divorce unaware of just how expensive the process can be. From attorney fees to court costs, dividing assets, taxes, and starting over, the monetary burden adds up quickly.

Attorney & Mediation Fees

One of the primary drivers behind the high cost of divorce is attorney fees. According to Justia, attorneys typically charge anywhere from $200 to $500 or more per hour. If a case goes to trial, fees can easily surpass $10,000 or even $20,000 per person. Cases involving custody disputes, complex financial assets, or contentious spouses tend to demand more attorney hours.

Retaining two attorneys (one per spouse) doubles the legal fees. Some couples attempt to lower costs by sharing one attorney, but that can create conflicts of interest. Hiring attorneys even for an amicable divorce costs money.

Mediators offer services starting around $200 per hour. Their role is to facilitate agreements rather than represent individual interests. Mediation may suffice for uncomplicated cases but does not replace attorneys. Many ex-couples engage both mediators and lawyers.

Court Expenses

Court fees also contribute to divorce expenses. Filing the initial paperwork and opening a case alone costs between $200 and $400 typically. Subpoenas, copying, mailing notices, etc. all incur fees too. In contested cases, buying trial transcripts and paying expert witnesses to testify involve more outlays.

Asset Division

Sorting out the division of assets like real estate, businesses, retirement funds, vehicles and personal property takes time and money. Appraisals, accountants, actuaries and financial consultants might enter the mix. If assets need to get retitled or ownership transferred, there are account transfer fees and tax obligations.

Selling major assets like houses triggers thousands in realtor commissions, closing costs, taxes and legal fees. The process also takes time, during which spouses may need to cover temporary living costs for two separate homes.

Spousal & Child Support

Many divorcing couples need assistance determining appropriate spousal support arrangements. Support for ex-spouses aims for maintaining a comparable lifestyle. Child support utilizes formulas based on timeshare, incomes and health expenses.

Even in agreements reached voluntarily, the spouse paying support likely needs guidance from a financial analyst or attorney to calculate feasible amounts. If the court mandates awards instead, documentation and probably testimonies from financial experts are required.

Related: Divorce and $100K – How Not to Let it Happen to You

Health Insurance

Divorce abruptly terminates access to a spouse’s healthcare plan. Obtaining replacement insurance for an ex-spouse and any children adds a significant recurring expense. COBRA temporary continuation health coverage forestalls but does not negate the issue long-term.

Starting Over

Finally, the sheer logistics of starting over as single adults fuels divorce costs. Creating two households means greater housing, utility, food bills and other regular living expenses. Add in furnishings, appliances, perhaps new vehicles and the output climbs higher. Even amicable splits have sticker shock.

In summary, reasons why divorce proves so costly include attorney and court fees, dividing assets, support obligations, insurance and general setting up of two independent homes. The emotional toll makes it all harder.

Understanding these realities upfront can perhaps motivate couples to pursue every reasonable effort toward reconciliation before dissolving a marriage. But when divorce is inevitable, maintaining awareness of the financial pitfalls helps in preparing for a smoother transition.

Share This Article
Katelyn Morgan is an experienced divorce attorney. She understands family law and helps couples get divorced with minimal stress and dispute. Katelyn Morgan has won high-asset and difficult property division divorce cases. She fights hard for her clients and gets the greatest results. Katelyn Morgan speaks at divorce and family law events in addition to her professional business.