How Much Does a Divorce Cost

Katherine Patricia Finch

Online Legal Information Author at Family Law Express
University of Sydney
Katherine Patricia Finch

Latest posts by Katherine Patricia Finch (see all)

how-much-does-a-divorce-costThe Cost of Divorce in Australia

When a marriage just simply isn’t working any longer, sometimes the best solution is divorce.

If you are considering taking this step, it is very important to look at the financial implications this will have on you and your partner/family.

With so many marriages ending in divorce these days, almost everyone has heard horror stories of disastrous divorces leaving people with not only enormous stress and broken hearts, but also empty wallets!

But how much does a divorce actually cost?

The answer is entirely dependent on each couple’s case.

However, no matter how complex the divorce may be, it is almost always easier and cheaper if couples can reach agreements amicably from the start, rather than fighting it out to the bitter end.

In the event of a fairly simple separation between a couple without children or large estates that need to be divided, it is possible for the divorce to be quite a simple and affordable process.

If you decide to prepare a divorce application yourself without the help of a lawyer, it can be completed very affordably.

Costs of a simple divorce includes the Courts filing fees

The divorce filing fee for an application in Australia is currently $910.00 *(as of November 2019).

Some people may also qualify for a reduced fee of $300.00. 1.

Costs of a Divorce can include lawyer fees charged by the hour

If you do decide to use a lawyer for your divorce it can cost around $350/hr for them to prepare and appear for you.

The divorce itself is usually not the expensive part. The settlement of assets and parenting issues is where it gets messy and costly. This will often require the assistance of lawyers, which will be much more expensive depending on the complexity of your case and the timeliness of when agreements are made.

Lawyers will be required to do a lot of work behind the scenes in order to prepare for court by performing discoveries, depositions, requests for the production of documents, issuing subpoenas as well as meeting with you to discuss the case.

Lawyers often bill by time, so the longer it takes for your agreements to be made, the more it will cost.

Property Settlements form part of the cost of a Divorce

In order to reach agreements for the division of assets such as companies or real estate, obtaining financial analysts and real estate appraisers will often be necessary but expensive with fees ranging from around $100-$400/hr.

It will also be important to review and perhaps change various legal documents such as wills, power of attorney, superannuation and life insurance after your divorce. This may also require the assistance of lawyers, which will be another added cost.

Once you get to trial at the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court, it will cost $590.00 for each hearing day excluding the first hearing day.

Again, there will be lawyer fees and on top of this, as well as fees for barristers, which can cost up to $8000 per day.

Expert Witnesses in Divorce cases can charge up to $1000 per day

You will also need to take into consideration the cost of hiring Expert Witnesses ($100-$1000+/hour) for trial. Do not under-estimate the need for Expert Witnesses, especially when disputing allegations from the other party.

Expert Witnesses can range from Psychologists and Psychiatrists, Child Protection Workers, Medical Practitioners and Family Report Writers, to Forensic Accountants, Actuaries and even Counsellors.

Depending on how your case is progressing time-wise, these experts may wait for days on end until they get called as a witness, but you will be responsible for their fees for every hour that they wait, even if they eventually do not even get an opportunity to testify.

Review the following list of cited experts to get an idea of the breadth of experts that can be utilised in Family Law cases. 2

There really is no such thing as a “typical” divorce, so to guess an average divorce cost is rather unhelpful and should really be discussed with your lawyer, who can apply their knowledge to your personal situation and give you a realistic estimate.

A complicated Divorce can cost up to $300,000 or more in legal fees alone

A divorce could cost as little as a few hundred dollars, or as much as $300,000 or more, therefore it is essential to remember that the faster you reach agreements, the cheaper it will be.

As difficult as it may be to put your emotions aside, the Family Law system is not a good or cheap way to get revenge or to deal with personal bitterness.

Keep in mind that the financial effects flow long past the settlement of a divorce.

Often, in cases of spouses with children, where one partner has left the workforce in order to stay at home with the children and run the household, they are suddenly faced with the need to re-enter the workforce.

With no recent work experience or having lost the career progression they would have made otherwise, these individuals often can never fully recover financially on their own.

In this sense, the cost of divorce can have incredibly long term effects that reach far beyond the finalisation of legal divorce proceedings.

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  • How the Child Support is Calculated

    Jacob Romano

    Latest posts by Jacob Romano (see all)

    How-Child-Support-is-CalculatedChild support  is the ongoing payment made by one parent / guardian to another to assist in the care and support of their child/ren.

    The basic formula that determines which parent pays child support and how much they pay has the following components.

    1. The child support cost paid by a parent depends on the number of children involved and their ages.
    2. Typically, parents who respectively earn higher incomes tend to pay more child support.
    3. A parent can receive credits for covering certain expenses while in care for their child(ren).
    4. Parents are required to pay child support when your Income percentage is greater than your cost percentage.

    What information is typically used to calculate support

    1. The taxable incomes of each parent
    2. The percentage of nights each parent has the child(ren) with them
    3. The number of children aged below 13 years of age, and the number of children aged between 13 and 17 years of age
    4. Details regarding other dependents that each parent has

    The relevant legislation which applies to child support issues is the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989.

    The relevant Child Support legislation

    The Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) imposes a duty on a parent to maintain their children in the form of child support payments.

    There are many options available to parents regarding the administration of child support. These include:-

    • Self-Administration – this arrangement remains private and flexible between the parents.
    • The parents can enter into a Child Support Agreement – an Agreement is binding and can only be changed or ended in limited circumstances. These circumstances include an event occurring which has been specified in the Agreement, the parents making another Agreement, or by application to the Court.
    • Administrative Assessment – this is a formula calculation based on each parents’ income and percentage of care of the child(ren). The child support may be collected privately or through the Child Support Agency.
    • Court Order – the amount of child support is determined by the Court.

    How Child Support is Calculated

    There are 8 steps to calculating the basic child support formula:

    1. Calculate each parent’s Child Support income. This is typically the taxable income of each parent minus the self-support amount which currently is $21,622.00
    2. Combined both parent’s Child Support income to come up with one combined amount.
    3. Divide each parent’s individual Child Support income by the combined Child Support income to get an income percentage.
    4. Work out each parent’s care percentage of the child (see cost table below)
    5. Work out the cost percentage of the child (using the care and cost table below)
    6. Once you have worked out step 4 and step 5 you subtract the cost percentage from the income percentage for each parent.The outcome is called the Child Support percentage. In the event that the result is a negative percentage, that parent is assessed to receive Child Support because their share of the costs of raising the child/ren is more than met by the amount of care they are providing.On the other hand, if it is a positive percentage, that parent is assessed to pay Child Support because they are not meeting their entire share of the costs of the child directly through care. You then move on to steps seven and eight using only the positive Child Support percentage.
    7. The costs for each child is based on the parents’ combined Child Support income using the care and cost table below.
    8. The final Child Support figure payable is achieved by multiplying the positive Child Support percentage by the costs of the child. This final figure is the Child Support amount the paying parent needs to transfer to the other parent.
    Child Support Care and Cost table

    Child Support Care and Cost table

    Note: This is only a guide. If you have different care arrangements for various children, you might have different Child Support percentages for each child.

     

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