Cost Of Divorce

Divorce and Family Law

What Is The Cost Of Divorce In Ohio?

Facing a divorce is a stressful and uncertain undertaking in a person’s life. It is often one of the most turbulent times someone can face. In addition to questions about their property, debts, and children, one of the first questions people often ask a divorce attorney is what is the cost of divorce. When answering this question, a skilled divorce attorney should provide two answers.

Obviously, it is important to discuss the cost for the legal fees in handling the divorce, but it is equally important to discuss the cost of the property and debt division, spousal support and child support, as these items factor into the total cost of a divorce for a person. We highlight the main points of each below.

Legal fees vary based on many factors. The experience of the divorce attorneys involved, the complexities of the case, and the court/judge that is hearing the case are often the biggest factors in the cost of legal fees in a divorce.

  • LAWYER’S EXPERIENCE: Most of us have heard the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” This is true of family law attorneys. The skill and experience of the divorce attorney is generally in correlation with the cost of legal fees in a divorce.

    If an attorney provides you with a quote for services that is well below the average quotes received by other professionals, it is recommend that you conduct additional research on that attorney. There is generally a reason that an attorney provides serves at below market rates.

    These reasons are generally lack of experience or poor reputation. Do your homework. Saving a few dollars on a retainer can easily cost you more in the long run because your case is not handled property.

  • CASE COMPLEXITIES: This is usually the biggest factor influencing the cost of divorce. If the case is an agreed divorce or dissolution, fees will generally be a fraction of the cost of legal fees charged in a contested divorce. Many attorneys charge flat fees when handling uncontested family law cases.

    If a case is contested, the issues actually being disputed impact the total cost of the divorce. For instance if the parties are disputing property distribution issues, debt division responsibilities, spousal support, and child related issues, the legal fees incurred will be significantly greater than a divorce where the parties are only litigating a single issue.

    A good divorce attorney will advise you on what issues are financially worth fighting verse what issues are worth fighting only on principal.

  • COURT / JUDGE: Though the divorce laws are regulated by the State of Ohio, each of Ohio’s 88 Counties has local rules that impact a case. In addition to the local rules, courts and judges often apply rules and regulations (including the cost just to file the case) that add or subtract from the work an attorney may have to provide in a case.

    Determining the proper venue to file a divorce case can often have a profound impact on the total cost of your divorce. This is a conversation that an experienced divorce attorney should have with a client prior to filing an action with a court.

What Are The Other Costs Of Divorce?

Just like with legal fees, many factors influence the total cost of a divorce in Ohio. The issues that a person is facing when going through a divorce and the outcome of each of the issues will generally determine total cost. Here are the major factors that contribute to the cost of a divorce in Ohio:

  • PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION/SETTLEMENT: If a person is ordered to sign over assets to a spouse or to liquidate assets, these are transfers of wealth that must factor into the total cost of divorce. For instance, imagine a spouse has an IRA account with a balance of $20,000 earned during the marital period. If that person is ordered to equally divide the asset with a spouse, one spouse losses $10,000 of wealth while the other gains $10,000. A skilled divorce lawyer will best be able to advise you one these difficult financial issues.
  • DEBT ALLOCATION: The way in which a divorce court allocates debt can greatly impact the net financial distribution in a divorce case. For each dollar of debt one spouse is ordered to incur above what is ordered of the other spouse, a transfer of wealth occurs.

    If a spouse is forced to incur 60% of a marital credit card with the balance of $10,000, that spouse is actually incurring $2,000 of debt above that being incurred by the other. These unequal allocations of debt can quickly increase the total financial impact of a person’s divorce.

  • SPOUSAL SUPPORT: The cost of a divorce is tremendously altered if a spouse is ordered to pay alimony/spousal support to the other. These monthly payment transfer wealth from one spouse to the other during the repayment period. Generally, the longer the marriage the longer the repayment period.

    In certain cases, a required payment can be for life. With so much at stake, it is imperative that individuals married for over 5 years consult a divorce lawyer to fully explore possible liabilities and entitlements to spousal support when filing for divorce.

  • CHILD SUPPORT: With child support, the payor spouse is ordered to make monthly payments to the payee spouse until each minor child is 18 and out of high school. These monthly payments must be considered when determining the total cost of a divorce. Even a minimal monthly payment of $200 per month can add up to over $43,000 over the course of a child’s life. Though these payments are supposed to be for the support of a child, it still amounts to a transfer of wealth from one spouse to the other.