How much does a divorce cost?
It’s a question many people ask and unfortunately there is no straightforward answer.
How much a divorce costs will depend on a variety of factors.
These will include, but are not limited to, whether or not you engage a lawyer, the hourly rate your lawyer charges, whether proceedings are commenced in court or Consent Orders are obtained through mediation, and how long proceedings take to settle.
If proceedings are commenced in Court the costs will depend, firstly, on whether a lawyer is engaged or not.
Lawyers are expensive and charge an hourly rate which may be anywhere between $350 and $1,000 an hour (charged in six minute increments of $35-$100).
Lawyers may not have a significant incentive to get matters finalised because they are being paid for their time, not results. Very few lawyers will work for an agreed fixed fee.
Under the Family Law each party must pay their own costs in Court proceedings, unless the Family Court orders that one party only should pay. This is not common.
Lawyers will charge for their time in different ways, for example:
– attending meetings with clients, other lawyers, experts
– reading and sending letters/emails
– taking or making telephone calls
– travelling to and from meetings/Court
– inspecting documents or preparing documents for inspection
– attendance in Court
– waiting time while the Courts work through their lists and
– any other activity which is seen as necessary by them to deal with a client’s matter.
The final divorce cost will depend on:
(a) how complicated the legal arguments are and how long they take to process
(b) how many procedural issues have to be dealt with –
e.g. (i) whether a party has disclosed full details of financial information or
(ii) whether there are children’s issues as well as financial issues or just one of these
(c) how long it takes to get the issues finalised by the Court (delays of up to two to three years from start to finish are not exceptional).
Lawyers should regularly give clients estimates of the likely costs (and how much a client has already been billed and/or paid) but these are not binding and, when things change (for example, some different issues arise) the divorce costs will go up.
General Costs For A Standard Divorce That Goes To Trial
Recent “quotes” for the likely costs in a standard family law matter which goes to a trial are generally in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 for each party.
There have even been cases where the costs for each party have been as much as $500,000 and even more. There are lots of “horror” stories about huge legal costs in the Family Court.
What Other Divorce Costs Should I Consider?
Apart from legal fees (see above), the ongoing costs of living will have to be met while matters go through Court.
Mortgage payments will continue to be a liability unless agreement is reached as to sale of property or as to who is to be responsible for the mortgage or lease payments.
If you move into a rental property following your separation, you’ll likely need a security deposit and your first instalment of rent paid up front. Plus, of course, the costs to actually move as well.
In relation to the case being argued in Court, other potential costs to account for include:
– filing fees for Court documents
– hearing fees where the matter goes to trial
– experts’ fees for valuations, children’s reports, asset & liability assessments
– barristers’ fees for attendance and arguments in Court
There is no independent data to verify what the costs are in a standard divorce case.
Every matter is different, lawyers charge at different rates, and matters settle at various stages during the process.
Avoid A Costly Divorce – Mediate Instead
If you want to avoid a costly and often lengthy divorce, family mediation in Perth may be a better solution for you. You’ll be able to come to mutual agreements without the hefty costs a long, drawn-out court battle will attract.