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The Cost of Litigated Divorce

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The Cost of Litigated Divorce

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{2:54 minutes to read} When I first meet with my clients, one thing that I almost always discuss is, at least for most couples, the challenge of finding a way to live separately on the same income that was hard to live on together! As part of that discussion, we then talk about the legal fees associated with a litigated versus a mediated divorce.

          When I tell them that the cost for attorneys in a litigated divorce often exceeds $20,000 per person, I suspect many of them question my facts. But I have become aware of several instances recently that confirmed these figures.

  1. The first was a story related to me by a client who happens to be a physician. He told me that someone he works with spent over $250,000 on a litigated divorce. And that did not include the amount his wife spent, which I imagine was comparable!

Think of it. Half a million dollars went to pay lawyers so this couple could end their marriage. I wonder if either of them now feels it was worth it?

2.  A couple of days later I was reading some legal updates in a trade journal. This journal reported four cases where a court awarded counsel fees at the conclusion of the divorce action:

  • 1st case – The court awarded the wife $45,000 in counsel fees.
  • 2nd case – A wife was awarded $73,600.
  • 3rd case – A wife was awarded $105,680.
  • 4th case – The husband was directed to pay toward the wife’s legal fees.

          If we assume that the husband’s legal fees in all these cases were equal to those of the wife, this means that in the least expensive litigated divorce the couple spent at least $76,000; while in the most expensive one they paid over $210,000!

          While I sometimes jokingly say that I should go back to the divorce litigation practice I left 20 years ago, I know I could never again be a part of such a wasteful system. Not only is it unnecessary for a couple to spend so much money fighting with each other, but the result they are likely to achieve in litigation will be no better than they could have achieved in mediation.

          If you have litigated your divorce, have you had a similar experience? In hindsight, would mediation have been a better choice?

Daniel R. Burns

Attorney & Mediator
1187 Troy Schenectady Road
Latham, NY 12110
Phone: (518) 529-5200

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2017-01-30T11:33:51+00:00 By |Dan Burns, Mediation|

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