The Hidden Costs of a Divorce


Select to Highlight: People | Institutions |

how-much-does-a-divorce-costWhen 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 dependant 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.

The divorce filing fee for an application in Australia is currently $845.00. *Be warned however that these fees are set to magnify significantly if the government’s 2015 budget passes through the Senate. 1

Some people may also qualify for a reduced fee of $280.00. 2.

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.

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 $6000 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. 3

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 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.

Katherine Patricia Finch

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)

Categories: Cost of Divorce
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


References