We all know that divorces are not uncommon in the United States.
Some of the most public breakups over the years include those of celebrities such as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, and most recently, Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner.
In 2021, there were nearly 700,000 divorces – celebrity or not – in the 45 states that collect this data. During this same period, there were approximately 2 million marriages.
But not everyone has the financial stability of a movie star. And divorces are expensive.
An uncontested divorce can cost between $1,500 and $5,500 on average, while a contested divorce can cost you between $40,000 and $140,000, according to Elizabeth Douglas, founding attorney and CEO of Douglas Family Law in New York. If the case goes to trial, Douglas said, the cost could be even higher.
“The more complex it is, the more hours it takes: hours for lawyers, hours for appraisers, business appraisers, crypto hunters, forensic scientists, forensic accountants, forensic psychologists, whatever so be it,” she said. added.
Divorce brings big financial and life changes
Divorce brings many life changes – the most importants.
Typically, that means one house turns into two, and the same goes for electricity, cable, internet, grocery bills and cars, plus rent or a mortgage. There is also the cost of moving, buying new furniture, setting up these various utilities. accounts, do your taxes independently, separate your health insurance and possibly sell the shared house(s). And that’s just the beginning.
This major life change could result in lost time at work, the need for therapy and, if children are involved, more childcare. Speaking of children, there may also be custody issues to sort out.
John Norman worked in law enforcement for over 20 years and retired in 2019 when he separated from his now ex-wife. They lived in Ithaca, New York.
“We fought a completely unnecessary custody battle; I had to hire an expert witness,” Norman said. “I was without my children for a year.”
Norman estimates that this life event cost him between $172,799 and $191,000. He still owes $120,929, of which $39,747 is credit card debt.
Meanwhile, money was not an issue for him and his family before the divorce. “We had extra money,” he said. “We bought a boat for the kids…and then there was this custody battle and it drained all my accounts.”
How to limit divorce costs
While it may not be easy to prevent a divorce, it is certainly much easier to prevent a divorce from being costly and placing a significant financial burden on your family.
Prenuptial agreements are an option – Douglas even thinks they’re romantic. “You can protect someone while you still love them, before you hate them,” she said. “And you can split and save money for both of you early on.”
“The best advice I can give anyone is that you will never negotiate a divorce more favorable to both parties than when you love each other,” Norman added.
The reality is that while it can be scary to rip off the band-aid and get divorced, you don’t have to stay married to someone just because you don’t have the money to separate. Everyone has options, and there are people, organizations and resources that can help them.
Watch the video above to learn how to avoid a costly divorce.
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