Broadly speaking, one-third of all marriages in Australia end in divorce, so if you are going through a divorce right now, you are certainly not alone.
And when it comes to divorce, there are two truths that are common to all who experience it: one is that love hurts, and the other is that divorce costs.
The good news is that broken hearts mend, eventually anyway, but the cost of a divorce could set you back for years, maybe even decades, and for some you will never recover financially.
We are of course not only talking about the ‘financial settlement’ of a divorce, which in a civilised society is simply a necessary financial adjustment. We are more importantly talking about legal fees, which can in some cases cost upwards of $40,000, many even surpassing the $100,000 mark.
A lot of money isn’t it, just for the privilege of asking someone else to decide on your behalf who gets this percent and who gets that.
Although many lucky couples can avoid litigation, and in the process save themselves a lot of money, for others its just not a reality, unfortunately.
Amongst the stiff competition of family law however, some law firms are responding to the more discerning divorcing consumer, by offering alternatives to the straight up, clocked-by-the-minute costs agreement.
There are some legal firms today that are offering what is now commonly called a fixed-price divorce.
Typically, the price proposed will cover every stage of a family law matter, up to and including court proceedings.
Family Law Fixed Fees would take the guesswork out of determining the cost of parting company and could also help resolve bitter disputes, said Slater and Gordon national practice group leader, Ian Shann.
“It is important to know up front what fees are, to take into account how far you will push something in the Family Court or whether it is worth compromising,” Mr Shann said.
“They will be paying for the agreed value of the work we do and an outcome, not the time it takes.
“Times are emotionally and financially tough when there’s a break-up. You don’t want to be throwing your hard-earned assets in unnecessary legal fees.”
Family Court matters can cost from a low of $495 for a straight out divorce to tens of thousands of dollars where parties are in dispute and are determined to thrash out every detail.
One property dispute in South Australia last year cost a staggering $36 million, Mr Shann said.
“If you don’t know fees and are billed on hourly rate, you can’t take costs into account to make rational decisions about proceeding with Family Law matters.”