According to Lawyers.com, the average divorce in California costs approximately $17,500 and takes 15 months to complete. At Buncher Family Law we see a wide variety of cases from the simple to the average to the complex. More involved and complicated cases can range in fees from $50,000 to over $100,000 and can take 24 to 36 months to resolve.
There are many factors that affect the cost of divorce but here are a few to keep in mind:
- What is the level of conflict or animosity between the parties?
- Are children involved?
- How many issues need to be resolved?
- How many businesses and investments are involved?
- Are outside experts needed in addition to your attorney to resolve your case?
- Can an agreement be reached or will you need to go to trial?
- Intentional delays by one party or the other can cause an increase in legal fees.
- Are there any substance abuse issues to be dealt with?
- How backed up is the court’s calendar?
As you embark on the journey to resolve your family law matter here are a few tips that may assist in keeping costs at a minimum.
- Effective communication
– Keep a note pad handy to jot down your questions throughout the day and week. Unless there is an immediate urgency, send just one email or set up one call to address all of your concerns rather than engaging in multiple phone calls and emails, which can get costly.
– Communicate with a paralegal or legal assistant when possible as their hourly rates are lower than attorneys.
- Paperwork and Discovery
– Compile complete tax records, household expenses, bank statements, mortgage statements, and the like. Be certain to be thorough when working with the paralegal. The more back and forth interactions the higher the cost.
– Get back to your attorney in a timely manner. The longer it takes to respond or get necessary information or paperwork to the firm the more time it takes for the professionals to get back up to speed and effectively review and analyze your documents.
- Emotional vs. Tactical Decisions
– Remember to weigh your goals with the funds you have budgeted for your case. The last thing you want to do is get halfway through your case and be stuck because your divorce goals or objectives have shifted requiring more legal work to be done.
– Attorneys cannot control opposing counsel or parties and sometimes their decisions and actions change the course of the case causing it to be more costly. Talk to your attorney about these possibilities at the onset of your divorce proceeding to help focus on the goals at hand as much as possible.
– Pay attention to your billing statements. You will receive mid-monthly statements and monthly statements demonstrating the activity on your case. Be sure to carefully review and discuss any questions you might have with your attorney’s office. Charges are not incurred to discuss invoicing.
- Listen to and Follow your Attorney¹s Advice
– Compromise is almost always an integral part of finalizing any marital dissolution. Family law can be very emotional and often the results do not render what most would consider justice.
– The court system is governed by specific rules. It is important to rely on the expertise of your attorney in order to develop a clear understanding of how to successfully work within the system.
– Fair and family law do not necessarily go together. A family law attorney’s job is to work within the constraints of the law and doing so takes finesse. There are many factors in the dissolution process that attorneys have little control over, such as what decision(s) a judge or even opposing counsel may make. Your lawyer will always work with your best interests to the best of their availability, regardless of the issues arise.