How much does a divorce cost? - Including "costs," the majority will fall between $1500 and $3000 without children, and $2500 - $5000 if children are involved.  Some will be more, a handful significantly so.  Very rarely there will be a case drastically higher.

Let that sink in a moment.  Divorce is an expensive proposition and won't likely "fix" your marriage.  It's a  poor means of marriage counseling or grabbing attention.  Only do it if you mean it!

If I go forward what's that investment get me? There's a lot of paperwork that must be filed starting with a Petition.  Your spouse must be served a summons to appear.  You and your spouse will exchange information through a formal process and attend parenting classes if you have children.  In the end, with the help of lawyers, you and your spouse will likely "make a deal."  That is settle the case on your own terms.  This is the most frequent process.  It ends with a very short court appearance usually lasting about ten minutes.

But unfortunately those cases require two sensible parties. The really expensive cases come when one or both individuals involved are looking for "payback."  Divorce is a very, very expensive revenge and is not well suited to "getting even."  But unfortunately, it takes two to settle and only one to fight.  Divorce having real emotional impact sometimes rationality doesn't win the day, and all that can be done is move toward a trial as quickly as possible and protect your interests.  That requires mandatory mediation.  The parties pay a third attorney who meets with them and their lawyers while trying to broker a settlement.

Finally comes a trial.  These are very rare.  When confronted with putting their whole lives before a judge for resolution, most everyone blinks.  Suddenly settlement motivation becomes much greater and reaching agreement the day of trial is probably just as common as actual trials.  But if necessary, your divorce matter will be heard by a judge and not a jury.  The judge will decide each and every issue of fact and law.  Although there is an appeal process, it is virtually impossible to have a trial judge's decree overturned.

What are "costs?" - Costs are payments for official expenses.  All court systems require a payment for access to the court in the form of a filing fee.  There are also service fees for the delivery of summons and subpoenas.  Other potential costs include witness fees, mediators, child services, guardians ad litem and court reporter fees for depositions.  Usually the side incurring the service will bear the individual costs, but if there is a trial costs may be assessed against the loser. 

What are "fees?" - Fees most frequently refer specifically to a client's attorney.  Unlike most other legal matters, in a dissolution of marriage, a court may award attorney fees.  This is uncommon, but where there is a clear disparity in wealth or income between the husband and wife, then it can be requested.

What are "expenses?" - Expenses are all other payments related to your case such as copies, postage, long-distance phone calls, experts, investigators, mileage, etc.

Who are "experts?" - Experts have specialized knowledge that helps resolve a case.  In family law proceedings like divorce, experts are rare, but when used the most common experts are psychologists and accountants.

Who are "guardians ad litem? - Guardians ad litem are lawyers assigned by the court to represent the interests of minor children.  Guardians are ordinarily appointed only in cases alleging neglect or abuse.  Usually both parents are ordered to pay half the Guardian's cost.

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