Cost of Divorce - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Cost of Divorce

I watched a Netflix movie called Marriage Story about two people getting a divorce. They wanted to divide up things on their own but were persuaded to get lawyers. The lawyers are asking for $10,000-$20,000 retainers and speaking about additional costs for court. I realize it’s a movie, but is any of that close to real for a middle class couple?

I was divorced 10 years ago. We used the same lawyer and didn’t go to court. Our total lawyer fees were around $700, and it was from a top lawyer in our area. Splitting from my wife was difficult, but the actual legal process was no big deal.


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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 02:14 PM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

Yes - sadly it is true. When atty shopping for my divorce, I had the following options:
Atty 1 in suburbs - cost of $300/hr and wanted $5k retainer
Atty 2 in city - Cost of $450/hr and wanted a $10k retainer
Atty 3 in city - Cost of $800/hr and wanted a $20k retainer

I went with #2 and even though we settled and did not go into full discovery and litigation, total cost was about $20k.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 02:27 PM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

I'm at $375/hr but so far my retainer is only $1000. She said given my financial situation we can start there and if my wifes lawyer doesn't convince her to make an agreement with me and we have to go to court i will give more. Then it will be $5000

I'm sure I will be giving more.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 02:34 PM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

Iím at $375/hr with a 5k retainer. This is my second time using this attorney. My stbx is at $525/hr with a 7.5k retainer. I expect this to be a contentious divorce and Iím budgeting 25-35k in legal fees.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 02:39 PM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

My first go around, I went with $350/hr with a $5,000 retainer. Ended up paying around $15,000 for everything after all was said and done with no trial.

My STBXW sat down with her ex when they ended their marriage and hammered it out themselves. Filled the papers out themselves. Filed themselves. Did it all for the $400 court filing fee.

I'm hoping my second will be a little bit closer to their situation, but given my circumstances, I'm guessing it won't be that smooth.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 02:55 PM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

Quote:
Originally Posted by southbound View Post
I watched a Netflix movie called Marriage Story about two people getting a divorce. They wanted to divide up things on their own but were persuaded to get lawyers. The lawyers are asking for $10,000-$20,000 retainers and speaking about additional costs for court. I realize itís a movie, but is any of that close to real for a middle class couple?

I was divorced 10 years ago. We used the same lawyer and didnít go to court. Our total lawyer fees were around $700, and it was from a top lawyer in our area. Splitting from my wife was difficult, but the actual legal process was no big deal.
It can be real for couples who have that much money to pay for a divorce.

When I divorced my son's father in 1996, he drove the costs up because he fought everything and did not want 50/50 child custody. He wanted 100%. I agreed to 50/50. After me spending $20,000 on a lawyer.

Custody was court ordered at 70(me)/30(him) after child custody evaluation by a group that usually favors fathers. They said that he had serious issues and did not have a good relationship with our son. Plus I got everything I had asked for financially.

I have no idea how much he spent on the divorce. I had one attorney. He had a team of two attorney's at a very high end law firm.

When my step kid's father and I divorced in 2012, it cost us $132. We did the divorce ourselves. There were no child custody issues since the children were all out of high school. We filed the paperwork and judge signed it on the same day.. a one day divorce.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 03:11 PM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

Average cost in the US appears to be $15K.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 03:47 PM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

I think if you are both civil to each other, are thinking clearly, and located in a state which has reasonably fair rules you ought to be able to work it out informally or maybe a little more formally at modest cost. If any one of those first three things are not true it could be very expensive.

I had a friend in Kentucky and he seemed to have gotten screwed over. I say seemed because I only heard his side of course but I'll boil it down to one issue that didn't seem right to me.

He was a business owner, she was a teacher.

As a result of the divorce she kept her pension, is receiving alimony and got 1/2 the retirement assets and the house.

So, I ask about the pension. Was there any trade off calculation involving the net present value of the pension vs. the value of your retirement assets? No, not in Kentucky.

So, in that case, I think the guy got totally screwed over. Fair would be something like calmly comparing the pension to the retirement assets and make some sort of = split. Alimony is questionable, at a base level I am not too happy with alimony where the spouse has a career but there are issue and I could be convinced there. Split the rest of assets 50/50 - yes.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 06:43 AM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

It costs 12k$ for my friend, when he divorced
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 09:29 AM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

A few of my closest friends who went with lawyers and discussed the cost with me paid around $5,000-$7,000 for their completed divorces. No idea what friend's ex's paid. Those were couples who had at least one child and not too many assets. House, cars, small-ish savings, maybe a bit in retirement.

Then we have myself and 3 other friends who had kids, but no real assets other than personal belongings, a bank account, and a couple cars. We just filed our own for the a few hundred in filing fees.

I've heard of people with assets dividing things up before the divorce and then filing so that lawyers don't get a chunk of the money. They move out with their personal stuff, sell and divvy up their assets, divide up debt, close joint accounts, agree on the child custody split, and support. By the time the court gets involved the process is greatly simplified and much quicker from start to finish.


Follow the evidence where it leads and question everything.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 09:36 AM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

I gave my lawyer 3000 a couple of years ago and that covered everything.

My ex didn't fight because he was very concerned with maintaining the image of a nice guy, and the deal was fair. No kids, he kept his money and I kept mine.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 09:46 AM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

My exH and I used a mediator. It was $2500 plus the court cost of $250. We were in agreement on everything though so it was an easy process.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 09:52 AM
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Re: Cost of Divorce

About $1,000 using Legal Zoom. I'd rather give my ex-wife EVERYTHING than give it to Lawyers. I kept my clothes, dresser, and a concrete mosiac patio table with chairs, which I still use for my dining room set.She got everythin else. It was better for our daughter.

The real cost is child support, I gave more than I had to which allows my ex to rent a safe place for our daughter.



My friends donated all my kitchen stuff: plates silverware, pot and pans, I have enough butcher knives to last the rest of my life.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 10:38 PM Thread Starter
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Compared to list of the stories here, it seems like I had a good situation. I can see where people get angry and bitter having yo pay out so much.

There is nothing more sad or glorious than generations changing hands- John Mellencamp
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