Harrison & Smyth, P.A.

Why Is Divorce So Expensive?

That might be the single most common question we get asked. There are a variety of expenses that arise out of divorce. It is important for people to understand that most attorneys are not milk their cases for all they can get. The reality is that there are filing fees with the court, there are process service fees, and then there are attorney’s fees. In the best case scenario where the parties are willing to agree on an amicable divorce, it can be very inexpensive; but when the parties are unwilling or unable to agree, the best case scenario is the attorney will spend at least a couple of hours communicating with the client, at least an hour or two of communicating with opposing counsel, at least a couple of hours drafting all the necessary paperwork and an hour or more in court hearings.

If you add that up, in the best case scenario you are looking at more than six hours of an attorney’s time at their billable rate. Once you add the attorney’s fees with the court fees and the process service fees, it seems like a lot of money to most people, but that is just the reality of filing for divorce. Of course, as much as we would like to see it otherwise, the best case scenario rarely ever happens because divorce is a messy process. Usually it ends up being fairly contentious. However, if people want to keep their costs as low as possible, then both parties must be willing to be amicable during the divorce.

What If Someone Cannot Afford A Divorce Attorney?

There are several options you can pursue if you cannot afford a divorce attorney. You can contact the Idaho State Bar to see whether they can connect you with an attorney who is willing to take your case pro bono. Through the Idaho State Bar, there is a program in place where attorneys have volunteered to make themselves available to take pro bono cases. This does guarantee that you are going to get an attorney who has available space for a pro bono case, but it is an avenue you can pursue. Another avenue is to contact family court services at your local courthouse for help walking you through what you need to know, particularly with the paperwork. You can also contact family or friends to see if they can help you pay for an attorney. You can put it on a credit card or apply for a small loan (this is not necessarily the first thing we tell people; but if they are really in a bad way, then it is an option).

You can always wait until you can afford an attorney. However, the reality is that if you cannot afford to hire an attorney right now and your spouse has already hired one, then you are going to have more of an uphill battle. Since divorce is a voluntary process, there is no guaranteed counsel. In other words, just because you cannot afford to hire an attorney does not create a right to have an attorney provided for you. It is just one of those things where you do the best that you can; and if you have to come back later to fix something when you can afford an attorney, then do so at that point.

How Do You Advise Clients With A Vengeful Mindset In A Divorce Scenario?

The reality is that divorce is the result of a failed marriage. There is nobody that is walking away from a divorce without a whole range of complex feelings about the other spouse. Depending on how they were treated and the circumstances they lived with, they may still have the desire to exact revenge. These feelings are not uncommon. It is important that our clients know that, while we do our best to achieve their goals, when our clients have been wronged, there are many good reasons why that client should suppress any temptation to seek revenge. It can only serve to escalate the situation and create additional complications and expenses in finalizing the divorce.


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We have seen situations escalate to the point that law enforcement gets involved and criminal charges are filed against one or both spouses. Another thing to think about is whether there are children involved. It is psychologically damaging for them to see their parents treating one another badly. It often leaves children feeling like they must choose one parent over the other, which is not a good thing for a child to have to deal with. Children are the innocent parties in divorce who often experience the most emotional scarring as a result of decisions made by adults. Whether people like it or not, if children are involved, they should be willing to set aside their own feelings for the sake of the children.

The other reality that most people never think about is that they will have to deal with their ex-spouse for years to come until the children are all grown and living on their own. How easy or how difficult it ends up being to work with that ex-spouse is going to depend on how easy or how difficult they are to work with. Another reason to avoid revenge is because it is going to create deep-seated bitterness that is going to make it much more difficult to move on and find happiness once the divorce is finalized.

How Does Mediation Compare To The Court Process In A Divorce Case?

The outcome of mediation depends on the situation. If you have a situation where you are just disagreeing or fighting over things and it is based more on emotion and lack of trust, mediation can be quite helpful. The court process is often better in situations where one spouse being absolutely horrible to the other, is unyielding on every issue, and is working to the other’s life as difficult as possible. One of the benefits of mediation is that it allows the parties to have more control over the process of reaching an agreement. This, in turn, gives rise to a better long-term solution that is less likely to result in needing to go back to court.

Mediation also provides a way for both parties to speak openly about what they are feeling or what they are going through, which can be helpful in finding a resolution. When parties have to go through the court process, the judge is the one that usually makes the decision; and if one of the parties does not like that decision, they are much more likely to come back and contest it later on. You might not get as good a solution in court as you would in mediation, but that really depends on what is going on between the parties and whether or not they are able to find a reasonably amicable solution. Choosing mediation over going to court or vice-versa is just one of those things that is situational. Generally speaking, if you are involved in a case where the other party is being belligerent and unreasonable, they are completely unwilling to compromise, or you have an important issue that is non-negotiable; those are reasons that you may want to go to court rather than mediation. Apart from these, you would probably want to try mediation especially because it will save you time and money in the long-run.

What Is A Settlement Conference?

A settlement conference is where both parties, along with their attorneys, meet together to see if they can reach an agreement. This is a step that you might want to take prior to mediation; part of the reason for that is, in both cases, you are going to be paying either the mediator or the attorney. But if you are really close and only a couple of little things need to be worked out, it might be less expensive to do the settlement conference. Also, if you are really far apart on multiple issues and not sure whether mediation will work, a settlement conference might be beneficial in determining whether mediation will actually be more cost effective than going to trial.

What Sets You Apart From Other Family Law Attorneys That Handle Divorces?

One of our maxims for this law firm is that we listen. We listen until we really understand where our clients are coming from and to ensure that we have truly understood what they want to accomplish. We also have frank conversations with our clients up front. This is important because frank discussions do not always happen up front. Too often they happen later on when there are fewer options to choose from. We have frank conversations regarding the process involved, the cost involved and what our clients can realistically expect in terms of an outcome. We do all of this so our clients do not develop unrealistic expectations.

We are careful about the promises we make, and we work hard to only make promises that we feel certain we can keep. We are diligent in educating our clients so they understand what is going on and what the likely outcome of any given choice may be. We want to arm them with as much relevant information as possible so they can make the best decisions possible up front both in terms of their goals and in terms of the costs involved to achieve them. One of the other big things that we try to do for our clients is to work towards solid long-term solutions to their conflicts so they are not coming back in a year or two needing to resolve something that did not get resolved the first time around.

We do not profess to be perfect, but we do seek to offer the best counsel that we can and work to achieve the best possible outcomes while being as cost effective as we can feasibly be.

For more information on Expenses Involved In A Divorce, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (208) 552-1165 today.


Call Us Now For a Case Evaluation
(208) 552-1165