How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

By Lisa Wagner

Wanting to know what a divorce will cost?

Concerned about the fees a family lawyers will charge?

Interested in understanding how the costs of family lawyers can be minimised?

If so then read on…

Unless you qualify for a waiver or reduction in the court’s filing fee you’re going to spend a minimum of $900 on the filing fee charged by the court – go onto the court’s portal and take a look.

Your costs to get a divorce can end there – you can complete the application yourself, even get your ex to join in if you were to do it jointly – no more costs for you and hey presto… it’s done.

“D-day” arrives and it’s ended up hugely cheaper than the wedding and contrary to recent bad press about the exorbitant costs of divorce lawyers, quite possibly cheaper than the costs of the last birthday party you hosted for one of your children!

You may end up paying a much greater price though down the track if along the way you don’t get expert family law advice.

BEWARE – Getting a Divorce triggers consequences that you may not be aware of… it also does not necessarily achieve some of the things that you thought it would –

Some simple facts :-

  1. Once a divorce order is made, you only have twelve (12) months from the date it becomes absolute to make an application for the court to deal with your property and financial affairs. This matters.  If you cannot persuade the court that it should exercise its power after 1 year has passed you may be left in a financial position that is not ideal.
  1. A divorce does not equate to a financial settlement. The informal deal you jotted down “on the back of the envelope” is not binding.  You still must get your financial arrangements sorted and settled.
  1. Getting a divorce does not protect your estate from a claim by your ex. Your ex-spouse is still eligible to make a claim against your estate once you die.  Do you really want to leave your executors, possibly your adult children, having to deal with such a situation?  Probably not and time and again couples that separate simply overlook this fact.  So again, beware because when it rains, it pours.  On the flip side it can be resolved, relatively easily, you just need to ask.

Professional services are not cheap – if they were you should be concerned.  A family lawyer making promises that are too good to be true – most likely are – “Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys” as the saying goes.

But, you are entitled to feel and in fact should receive value for your investment.  You need to ask “Are the fees that are being contemplated worth it?”; what “value added?” is being offered.

Nothing is a substitute for expertise and experience…

You must however ensure that your relationship with your family lawyers is strong – if you don’t get what they are saying or you get a sense that they’re not really listening, pushing their own agenda or simply going through the motions, then any experience or expertise that they have is unlikely to be able to be applied to benefit you in your family law matter.

The relationship between a separated person and their family lawyer is a sophisticated and very important one, so –

  1. Don’t be shy to ask the hard questions
  2. Trust your gut
  3. Shop around

Bizarrely it’s a bit like tinder (or at least my understanding of what tinder is from the accounts of third parties!!).

Your family lawyer must be :-

  1. Smart
  2. Brave
  3. Committed – they work for you

Your family lawyer must not be :-

  1. Your friend
  2. A salesperson, or
  3. Too busy

Your family law matter counts and if you start thinking in this way the costs that you actually pay for the work your family lawyer does for you following your separation will be appreciated for a very long time.  In short you will no longer be googling “how much does a divorce cost?” because you will just be thankful that you engaged the right family lawyers.

Engaging the right family lawyer is also important if you hit a roadblock obtaining a Divorce Order.

Whilst an Application for Divorce is often a straightforward process, extra work is sometimes required to satisfy the court that it is proper for the Divorce Order to be made.

When can this happen?

3 common roadblocks that arise when making an application for divorce include:-

  1. Providing the court with sufficient evidence to satisfy itself that it has jurisdiction to make the order because you have legal standing or are entitled to be an applicant. Proof of citizenship or evidence of your domicile may be necessary.
  2. Satisfying the court that you are really separated in circumstances where you continue to live with your ex under the same roof. If this applies to you then you must file an additional affidavit setting out the circumstance of your living arrangements with your ex.  An extra affidavit from a 3rd party is also required to corroborate your version of the facts.
  3. Asking the court to make an order to substitute the service of the application on your ex if he or she is being evasive or uncooperative or cannot be found. In these cases extra evidence must be given to the court to satisfy itself that you have exhausted all realistic possibilities and it is probable that the application has come to the attention of your ex even if he/she is avoiding service.

Our family lawyers help each day with these matters.  We are trained to overcome these roadblocks in your Divorce Application and assist you finalise financial and parenting matters following your separation.

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers offer specialist family law advice in St Leonards on Sydney’s North Shore.  If you have recently separated or have a Family Law enquiry, please contact us on (02) 9437 0010 or enquires@familylawyersdw.com.au to discuss your matter in complete confidence.  We have a team of experienced and caring professional family lawyers available to help you in this difficult time.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

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