Tag: Divorce Costs

Keep Divorce Costs Down

Divorce can be costly. The bulk of expenses are for professional fees like lawyers, accountants and psychologists. The New York Times recently reported on different ways to keep divorce costs down, and maybe minimize your heartache, too. Here are some of those tips, free of charge.

divorce costs

Learn the Alternatives to Court

Opting for arbitration, collaboration or mediation may help you avoid the costs of a lengthy court battle, but each of these paths has its pros and cons. A lawyer can point you in the right direction but be sure you agree on the path.

In a collaborative divorce, both parties commit to creating a shared agreement. They may share a financial expert (called a financial neutral) or a divorce coach in the collaborative process.

This approach comes with an effective incentive, but also a harsh penalty for failure. If you get stuck, the case restarts but with new representation and it can be a costly do-over.

Talk for free . . . to others

I’ve written about divorce tips and advice before. Speaking to a divorce lawyer is a good use of your time, but speaking to them about non-legal matters is not. Lawyers are not therapists and way more expensive.

A therapist’s hourly fee typically is between $120 and $250, yet many people use their lawyer, who may charge twice that amount, to complain and lay blame.

Therapy can help the legal process run more smoothly. But often the conflicts in divorce proceedings — money, children — are not the real issues. Anger, resentment, or even fantasies of revenge, often come into play.


As the New York Times article reports:

If there’s even a tiny question of whether you will ‘get away’ with hiding something, think again. There are very high penalties for hiding assets, and if you don’t disclose up front, you’re buying problems down the road.

The law is the law, and it’s not always fair. If you want to complain about spousal support or child support guidelines, take it up with the legislature.

Don’t Rush

In cases where there have been cheating or deceit and emotions are high, find a way to slow the process.

By slowing the process and letting time do its job of healing the wounds by, for example, pacing discovery or using the court’s calendar wisely. Resolving smaller issues as they arise can also help.

Personal property can be a money drain. Hold your power for the valuable and irreplaceable. Judges hate personal property issues and will likely assign most low-monetary value items randomly if there is disagreement.

Assemble a Team

Life after divorce is going to be different and knowing what that looks like often requires additional people and resources. Financial planners, divorce coaches and other professionals can help fill out your team of professionals.

Avoid Court

To avoid costly subpoenas and depositions, clients should provide complete records of all financial dealings, including tax returns, real estate documents and even handshake deals like consulting gigs.

Since you never know what is going to happen and no one is completely satisfied with the results that come down in a courtroom it can be crazy to put your life in the hands of someone who only has a snapshot of your story.

Get a Prenuptial Agreement

Another helpful tip is the use of prenuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements.

A sound prenuptial agreement may be the best cost-saving measure in divorcing, said Barry Wayne, a partner in Bluestein and Wayne of Coral Gables, Fla. Often a prenuptial is prepared as the wedding planning is ongoing, and many times at the behest of wealthy relatives.

Consulting with an estate planning lawyer can help draft a prenuptial and also work to protect and assure assets for surviving spouses in the event of death.

The New York Times article on how to keep divorce costs down is here.


Divorce Dress Code?

There are a lot of curious family laws around the world, but a divorce dress code? One of the most peculiar laws comes from the African nation of Ghana, where divorce is permitted on one condition: the parties attend divorce court dressed the way they dressed at their wedding ceremony.

Divorce Dress Code

This is your Ghanaian Divorce

According to viral news reports – from such trusted sources as the internet – citizens of Ghana are allowed to divorce but only if they attend court dressed the same way they dressed at their wedding; with wedding gowns and tuxedos.

This condition creates very humorous situations in the so-called “Divorce Rooms”, where Ghanaians must go if they want to end their marriage.

In other African countries like in Togo, to be able to divorce, first you must go to your mother-in-law and explain your reasons for divorce in the hope you can receive her approval. Togo today may have a 0% divorce rate.

Florida Divorce

The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, you don’t need to show fault, and you definitely don’t have to wear your wedding gown.

Instead, you need to prove you have been a resident of the State of Florida for more than six months before filing your petition and be able to state under oath that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Additionally, mental incapacity is grounds for divorce in Florida, but a court must determine one of the spouses to be incompetent after an examination by a committee. If there is a declaration of mental incapacity, there is a three-year waiting period.

While there are no dress codes in Florida, I’ve written about how you should dress in court before. For example, and as one couple painfully learned, don’t come to a custody hearing wearing your Nazi uniform. You should instead dress in a neat and professional manner.

Meanwhile in Nigeria…

Sure, the Ghana divorce dress code story is fake news. But the idea of dressing appropriately for court is a universal concept. It shows respect for yourself, your children, the court, and the people who labor in it.

In other news, it appears a Nigerian man really did marry his guitar in a ceremony in Lagos. Harris Best shared photos of himself and his guitar – which he dressed in a white wedding gown – on his Twitter account. He took other musical instruments to the wedding venue at Aguda Local Council Development Area in Lagos.

The PM News article from Nigeria is here.


Paying for Divorce

A joke floating around the internet asks:  “Do you know why a divorce cost so much? Because it’s worth it.” The joke, although in bad taste, poses another interesting question: how do you protect yourself from today’s high divorce costs?

An Un-level Playing Field

As Forbes magazine recently reported, divorce is never easy. It represents the end of a way of life you have known for years.

Not only could a divorce wear you out emotionally, it could wear you out financially.

Even the wealthiest may not have sufficient access to capital during a divorce. Assets could be frozen during the divorce. Some turn to friends or family for capital but, for some, this is not an option and certainly it is not an easy ask.

It’s not uncommon for the spouse with the financial power during the marriage to declare war against their former partner by cutting off credit cards and hiding assets.

Those who can’t bear the divorce costs, often “surrender,” reluctantly agreeing to a sub-par settlement, all because he or she can’t afford the steadily mounting divorce costs, or can’t take the stress of protracted litigation, with someone who can afford to litigate a case to death.

Florida Law on Attorneys’ Fees

One way to level the playing field of high divorce costs is to ask one side to pay for attorneys’ fees. In Florida attorney’s fees may be awarded in a divorce, including enforcement and modification proceedings, separate maintenance, custody and support proceedings and appellate proceedings.

The court may from time to time, after considering the financial resources of both parties, order a party to pay a reasonable amount for attorney’s fees, suit money, and the cost to the other party of maintaining or defending any proceeding.

I’ve written about reducing attorneys’ fees through various means before. The purpose of awarding attorneys’ fees is to make certain that both parties in a divorce proceeding “will have similar ability to secure competent legal counsel.”

There are also fees for frivolous cases. A reasonable attorney’s fee can also be awarded to the prevailing party if the court finds that someone brought a claim that was not supported by the material facts the then existing law to those material facts.

Paying for Divorce

People are often surprised to find out that divorce costs so much, they can be shockingly expensive. Attorneys can cost many hundreds of dollars per hour and require substantial retainers up front, and then you have to add on fees for accountants, psychologists, guardians, and other professionals.

Clients often do not have the money to simultaneously engage in divorce proceedings and be able to afford living expenses such as mortgage payments, school tuition and other personal costs during the proceedings.

Divorce funding can “level the playing field,” enabling people to fund their attorney and expert fees while maintaining their standard of living. A business niche has emerged to provide financing for those without the immediate means to fund the legal battle.

This levels the playing field significantly against the well-known tactic of wealthy husbands or wives dragging on divorce proceedings and costs ad infinitum until their spouse runs out of money and are forced to concede.

With independent financing, these individuals can pursue settlements they might not otherwise have been able to attain.

The Forbes article is here.


Divorce & Common Law Marriages

Comedian Ron White’s wife is filing for divorce, and the duration of their marriage could be a major point of contention. Margo Rey filed divorce pleadings last week in Los Angeles, mentioning they had a common law marriage in Texas.

If the couple have had a common law marriage in Texas since 2008, long before they officially got married, they may be considered married in the eyes of the law, if they live together as husband and wife, and hold themselves out in public as a married couple.

The answer to their dispute about the length of the marriage may be important as it relates to property division and alimony.

Margo says she wants Ron to pay spousal support. The issue of the common law marriage may have been raised so she can argue that her marriage could be a few years longer, and thereby entitling her to more alimony.

Florida Common Law Marriages

Florida deems common law marriages void. What about a common law marriage from another state? I have written about a unique case in South Carolina before, and the White divorce raises it again.

In South Carolina, Debra Parks wanted her relationship to be considered a common-law marriage under South Carolina law. Parks is gay. But until 2014, same-sex marriage was illegal.

In a groundbreaking case for South Carolina, a Family Court judge has ruled that Parks and her former partner had a common-law marriage under state law. And the state must recognize that their common-law marriage has been legal for almost 30 years, the judge ruled.

The South Carolina ruling immediately becomes a legal precedent, and has the potential to impact thousands of people in same sex relationships because it backdates the period of effect to the beginning of the common-law marriage.

South Carolina is one of eight states that recognize common law marriage. The case is important because same sex marriages were not recognized until 2014 and left an entire group of people “out in the cold” without the protections the law provides to heterosexual couples.

Florida law is different. No common-law marriage entered into after January 1, 1968, is valid in Florida. The South Carolina case could create a conflict between Florida Statutes – which makes common law marriages in Florida void as of 1968, the Parks case, which recognizes the creation of same-sex, common law marriages in South Carolina.

Interstate Problems

The generally established principle is that the validity of a marriage is determined by the law of the place where the marriage occurred. So, while Florida no longer recognizes common law marriages, nevertheless, it may be forced to recognize the validity of common law marriages in other states.

The TMZ article on the White divorce is here.


5 Hidden Divorce Costs

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Thursday, April 25, 2013.

The costs of a divorce can be high. This is especially true if you have no idea of what to expect, or have no experience with finances.

Most people think you lose your money in divorce through alimony or child support paymets. And of course, dividing up your assets will also take a chunk. But there are other ways that divorce impacts your finances, and many people don’t think about them. Here are five of them:

Legal fees: Even if you have an amicable divorce, legal fees can be high. If you and your spouse go to court to contest an issue, the legal fees can rise quickly.

Childcare costs: Divorced parents typically need to pay for childcare, daycare or aftercare more often than they expected to because the child’s other parent is not around as much.

Taxes: Filing single, after years filing married jointly, can increase your taxes.

Retirement: Because you are single, and don’t have a partner making contributions you share, your contributions to your pension, IRA and 401(k) will usually be comparatively lower, and you may have to work longer.

Insurance: Married people don’t have to spend money on long-term care insurance because they have a partner. After a divorce, single people may need to purchase such a policy.

“Most people don’t realize the depths of what divorce can do when it comes to their finances,” Fraelich said. “It is usually a matter of much more than a loss of salary or income.”

You can read more about it in this article in the LA Times.