Generally, when facing financial issues during a divorce your lifestyle will change dramatically. Some bills may go unpaid, other bills might need to be negotiated, creditors may come calling, and, if you have children, the issue of child support will come up, as will the possibility of one party paying spousal support to the other.
In some cases, you may need to sell or refinance your home, find someplace else to live, make custody and visitation agreements with your ex-partner, or even move away or find the other party requesting permission to move away with your children.
Divorce can be expensive, but understanding the costs and how an attorney can help you manage them can make this process a little less daunting. This blog post will help to prepare you to be your own best advocate if you are ever faced with divorce.
The Basic Costs of Getting a Divorce
The Most Basic Cost of Getting a Divorce: Court Filing
As part of this process, one of you will need to initiate a court case to complete your divorce, which in California is called a Dissolution of Marriage. Filing this divorce court case will cost hundreds of dollars, unless you qualify for, and are granted, a fee waiver.
Hiring an attorney is also a financial expense you’ll need to prepare yourself for. Attorneys’ rates vary, so pay close attention to their experience and pricing to determine the best option for your financial situation. If the other party is difficult to work with, this could also increase the costs for each of you in the legal process.
Basic Cost of Getting a Divorce as it Relates to the Home
If you need to sell the family home or buy out the interest of the other party in the home, you will need to strike an agreement and determine how much money is going to be involved. Some of the related costs for this are appraisers, repairs, maintenance, mortgage, and property tax payments, costs of sale (broker fees, for instance), and bank fees for a refinance if such occurs.
Learning the true market value of the home at present is very important if a buyout is contemplated, not to mention you must know the purchase price and date and the amount of equity the home has at present. All of this information comes at an expense and can be very involved and time-consuming.
Your family law attorney is someone who knows how to navigate all of the costs of divorce and can walk you through the process to help you avoid missteps. Finding the right attorney is crucial since it can impact the non-attorney costs on your divorce case.
Disclosing Financials in the Divorce Process
As part of the divorce process, each party must provide to the other a complete set of financial disclosures, known initially as a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure, which must be updated continuously throughout the process. These disclosures are mandatory and divorce cannot be granted unless they are completed. Proof of doing so has been provided to the court.
In order to complete them, you will need to gather information on all your assets and debts, joint and separate, as well as your current and past income going back two years. You may need to have an accountant help you with all of this, thus adding another cost to the process. When you have an experienced attorney working with you, your attorney will go over this process with you and assist in getting all the paperwork done correctly and on time.
Since California is a community property state, this means that all assets are to be divided equally, while all debts are to be divided equitably. While this usually results in debts being shared equally, the court does have the power to require the party who has a larger income and perhaps a larger financial portfolio to carry a greater burden in the final reckoning.
Using Assets and Debts to Anticipate Basic Divorce Costs
Making an accurate and complete list of all assets and debts, with their true values, is a crucial part of the process of completing a divorce in California. Doing so may simply require you to comb through your records or monthly bills, or could require the assistance of one or more experts or professionals. That can include an accountant, property appraiser, an attorney, and/or mediator, any number of which will require a fee for their services.
Be prepared, be thorough, document everything, and work closely with your attorney and follow their advice.
Careful consideration of your financial condition can give you a new perspective in a divorce and can even help you identify the anticipated basic divorce costs you will be taking on in the divorce proceedings.
A version of this article originally appeared on www.jwbfamilylaw.com