What is this divorce going to cost me? That is one of the first questions that people considering divorce ask themselves. The potential cost can seem daunting and scary. According to a quick google search, the average cost of a divorce in Oregon is somewhere between $10,000 to $15,000. Of course, each case is different. Most attorneys charge an hourly fee. The attorney's fees do not include the court fees, possible competing expert fees, appraisal fees for businesses or properties, and any other fees that can go into a divorce. Even for the most experienced lawyer, the cost is unknown.
Given that it is impossible to know what you will pay for your divorce initially, most divorcing couples choose to go it alone. Well over 70% of divorcing couples are unrepresented. Unfortunately, this creates a significant amount of inefficiency and may cost more in emotional turmoil, time, and frustration.
However, there is a balance between the potentially high cost of the represented adversarial divorce and the going it alone. Both mediation and collaborative divorce are more efficient than the traditional dedicated divorce and provide the divorcing couple with the necessary support during the process.
In mediation, the parties work with an impartial third party to help the couple determine how to resolve their issues. The mediator will help the couple decide how to distribute the marital property, figure out spousal support (alimony), and figure out how to address custody and parenting time issues for children. Depending on the family's needs, the mediator could suggest whether the couple uses neutral experts, such as financial specialists, gets appraisals, or relies on child specialists to help the children navigate through the divorce-associated emotions.
While Collaborative Divorce is usually a bit more expensive than mediation, the support and expertise provided by the Collaborative Team usually add efficiency to the process. During a Collaborative Divorce, each spouse hires a collaboratively trained attorney to represent their interests. The collaborative attorneys are committed to working toward a resolution that is appropriate for the couple – and keeps the couple out of court. The Team help the couple decide how to distribute the marital property, figure out spousal support (alimony), and address custody and parenting time issues for children. Depending on the family's needs, the Collaborative Team could include neutral experts, such as a Divorce Coach, financial specialist, or child specialists.
In a cost-benefit analysis, the supportive Collaborative Team is more efficient than the traditional adversarial divorce model. The adversarial model invites conflict. In comparison, the Team provides advice, reality checks, helps to minimize frustration, and sees the possibility of a positive future for the family.
To give the divorcing couple at least some understanding of the possible cost, some mediators and collaborative attorneys charge a flat-rate fee, including a review of documents, mediation sessions, collaborative team meetings, and preparation of court documents. Clarity Law LLC uses a flat-fee model for mediations and collaborative divorce professionals. The divorcing couple at least knows the cost to the mediator and collaborative attorney and then can split the costs of any other experts and fees that may be necessary. Knowing the cost of the mediator and the cost of the collaborative attorney is often a huge psychological benefit.
A divorcing couple could choose to go through the process alone. However, the couple should also take the time to explore other options. The couple should balance the cost of the divorce with the inefficiency, emotional turmoil, time, and frustration that often results when choosing to go it alone. In particular, the divorcing couple should consider non-adversarial, flat-rate, and efficient options such as mediation and Collaborative Divorce when balancing costs.
Patrick Ward is a Mediator and Collaborative Attorney and offers a free 30-minute consult to discuss the benefits of mediation or Collaborative Divorce. Contact Clarity Law LLC at 503-957-7491 or Patrick Ward directly at [email protected] for more information.