By Greenville Divorce Attorney
John D. Compton, III
In our last Blog we talked about the two basic kinds of divorce: At-Fault and No-Fault. We also discussed that just because a case is no-fault doesn’t mean it will be inexpensive, nor will an at-fault case necessarily be expensive. The up-front fees and costs must be evaluated based on the facts of each individual case.
Some of the things that will effect how much a case will cost:
- Length of the Marriage
- Possibility of Alimony
- Minor Children & Custody
- Guardians ad Litem
- Fault Grounds
- Assets and Debts to be Divided
- Whether or not the Issues are Hotly Contested
- Length of Separation
- Expertise and Experience of Counsel
If parties to a case are particularly bitter, acrimonious and confrontational – coupled with a large marital estate, long marriage, alimony, child custody, visitation, and the need for expert testimony all in play, a case can reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars. A party may always seek to have the other party pay for these fees – and will prevail if she is the “winning” party in the case. Being contentious, however, can come back to bite a litigant if they are being unreasonable.
The best case scenario most of the time is for parties in a divorce case to compromise and settle their difference as quickly as possible. Parties most often do better by settling their disputes than by dragging the case out and letting a judge decide the case. Your author has personally represented clients who refused to settle, and ended up much worse off after lengthy trials.
Of course, money is only the tip of the iceberg. It doesn’t take into account the emotional costs to the parties, and to their family members, if they fight or play their children as negotiating pawns. And, let’s not forget that each party is living on half (roughly speaking) of the household income they once had. Two homes simply cost a lot more than one.
Of course, most litigants are not wealthy, and fortunately, act reasonably. In the best no-fault, long term separation case with no minor children and no assets or debts to divide, and where alimony is not in issue – a case can be handled for as little as a few hundred dollars plus “service of process” and filing fees.
One word of caution: don’t be “pennywise and a pound foolish” by shopping for a “cheap” attorney. Find an experienced attorney, trust their judgment and follow their advice. Just because a lawyer is experienced doesn’t necessarily mean your case will be more expensive.