Divorce Litigation Bullet Points Part 3: The Costs of Divorce

Arms-Crossed-200x300Welcome back to our bullet point series addressing some of the biggest issues that people face with divorce litigation. If you’ve ever considered a divorce before, or you know someone who has been through the process, you probably have some questions about how everything works. This bullet point guide is designed to give you a better insight into what you can expect.

In this part of the series, we’re going to be looking at things like the costs incurred in a Queens, Nassau or Suffolk County, New York divorce, and the different options available to suit your budget. We’ll also address agreements and strategies that can speed up your divorce, and how money can come into the discussion when you’re planning your divorce.

The Costs of a Divorce in New York

One of the biggest concerns that clients have when it comes to figuring out how to plan their divorce, is how much everything is going to cost. Beyond your divorce attorney fees, filing for divorce isn’t free. The court filing fees are approximately $370.00. At the same time, there are expenses like marital debts to think about too. So, how much is everything going to cost?

  • The cost of a divorce in New York will depend on a number of things, including the kind of process that you’re planning on using. Divorce litigation is often a more expensive option than mediation, but it takes both parties to be willing to work things out in mediation so sometimes this isn’t an option. When litigating, the final costs are going to be uncertain. This is because there are considerations about how many court appearances there are among other things.
  • Nowadays, even when we start a litigation in court, the courts mandate that the parties sit in court ordered divorce mediation. Although mediation isn’t going to be the right option for every couple, it can be useful to try to settle at least some of the issues while we are litigating in court. The quicker the issues can be resolved the less money your litigation will cost. Most litigated cases do settle, though, some go all the way through to trial. For those cases that do settle though the question is at what point. We often reach settlements on the day trial is scheduled.
  • The cost of your divorce will depend on how many discussions you need to have with professionals, what kind of process you choose, and even how much discovery and documents need to be tracked down and produced for your case. During your initial consultation, you can discuss your situation with a divorce attorney like myself and get a better idea of what kind of evidence we need to gather.

Speeding Up the Divorce Process with Agreements

As mentioned above, one of the factors that can affect the overall price of your divorce, is how long it takes for certain things to get ironed out. The longer you need to spend litigating and arguing things like marital assets and equitable distribution, the more you’ll spend on . However, it may be possible to reduce the cost and length of your divorce by setting up agreements in advance of trials.

  • If we can settle all of the issues in a divorce then we can draft a full Stipulation of Settlement. Once this document is executed then the divorce becomes uncontested. However, if we are able to settle some or most of the issues in a divorce then we can do partial agreements to try to minimize what issues we need the judge to decide at the trial. This can lower the costs and time spent in the litigation.
  • A post nuptial, prenuptial agreement or separation agreement are other kinds of contracts that can come in handy when litigating your divorce. These agreements clarify exactly what will happen with your marital and individual assets when the marriage ends, either by divorce or death. The New York Courts uphold most prenuptial agreements. But, sometimes one side or the other might want to try to set aside the agreement. This can result in litigation about whether the agreement should be upheld in full, not at all, or in part.
  • Prenuptial agreements can be useful in speeding along the process of a divorce. However, they can only cover certain things, and must be seen as fair to both parties. Prenuptial agreements also cannot place restrictions on child support and child custody matters. So even when there are prenuptial agreements, after the couple has children there is often litigation regarding custody, parenting time and child support.

Other Financial Issues to Consider in New York Divorce

Discussing your options regarding divorce in New York will often help you to address some of the key issues that can arise when you’re separating from your partner. While some of these issues will concern things like maintenance and child custody, others will be heavily focused on the financial aspects of life after divorce. For instance, a common concern when it comes to things that might affect your finances is how you’ll deal with the sale of a marital residence.

  • As I remind my clients, there are various options available when it comes to determining what should happen to a marital home in a New York divorce case. The court can award a home to either party in the divorce, or require a party receiving the home to pay to pay a share to the other spouse. However, usually I see that the court policy is to order the residence be sold and the proceeds divided in some fashion if an agreement about the home cannot be made. Courts can also order the sale of marital residence and determine that the proceeds should be shared using equitable distribution.
  • Sometimes, the courts will defer the sale of a marital residence when an agreement is not made between the parties. For instance, if there are children living in the house, the courts might choose to defer the sale based on what they think is best for the children.
  • In my experience, if an agreement about a family home cannot be made by the parties in question, the house will usually be sold, and the proceeds divided. However, some couples will prefer not to sell their home if they can avoid it. Coming to an agreement about who will get the home in advance could be an excellent way to avoid an emotional litigation regarding the home, but this is not always possible and we will fight for what our client’s need.

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this bullet point guide, please visit my other blogs on this website. Alternatively, you can reach out to me and my team either through our online contact form, or over the phone.

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