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How much will my Ohio divorce cost?

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Jeffrey D. Fish - Family Law - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Jeffrey D. Fish

Located in Columbus, OHBuck & Fish Ltd.

Phone: 614-538-2901
Fax: 614-538-2905

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The total cost of a divorce depends on two or three factors: which divorce process you and your spouse choose to terminate your marriage, and the complexity of your situation with regard to your assets or, if you have children, parenting issues. Any and all of these factors can make the divorce process relatively quick and inexpensive or extend the timeline and increase the cost. While an attorney will be able to give you an answer suited to your specific circumstances, some general guidelines are below. 

Different Divorce Processes Cost Different Amounts 

There are several options for divorce in Ohio, and some are more expensive than others. 

Going to court is usually the most expensive option, and it gets more expensive the longer the proceedings last.  Without children, your divorce case can take up to a year; with children it can take 18 months.  However, what many people don’t realize is that they have a number of less expensive options that don’t involve the courtroom. These are often known as alternative dispute resolution methods, which typically achieve the same – or even better – results than a traditional litigated divorce. 

  • Negotiation
    If you’re getting a divorce, your attorney can negotiate the details of your divorce arrangement with your spouse’s attorney or even directly with your spouse. If you can reach an agreement this way for the division of your property and debts and child custody, courtroom proceedings are unnecessary. This is often the least expensive option.
  • Mediation
    This is like negotiation, but you and your spouse hire a neutral third-party mediator to help you come to an agreement about your divorce terms. Attorneys for both spouses are often involved as well.
  • Collaborative Family Law Process
    In this process, you have the benefit of a team of professionals that help you and your spouse obtain the information needed for you to decide the terms of your divorce.  This team includes you and your spouse, two attorneys trained in collaborative law, a communication coach, a parenting specialist, and a neutral financial professional, if necessary. With a broad range of perspectives and the common goal to help you and your spouse reach an agreement tailored for you and your family, these teams are very often able to help you reach an agreement that satisfies both of you.

In all of these alternative dispute resolution methods, the foundation is a spirit of collaboration, not of battle. Even if you and your spouse don’t agree – even if you have significant communication problems – you may be able to use these resources to create divorce terms that are more tailored to you than anything a judge will decide, and for significantly less cost in less time. 

Child Custody And Asset Complexity 

The other factors affecting the cost of a divorce are children and assets, both of which can present emotional challenges. For parents who are getting divorced, understanding when and how often they will see their children is often their top priority. If parents decide to live near each other after the divorce and have a reasonably amicable working relationship, custody and parenting questions may be resolved in a straightforward manner. This simplifies the process, speeds up the timeline and saves money. However, untangling a complicated child custody situation can raise the overall price and increase the length of time of the divorce. 

Similarly, the type of assets that a couple has may contribute to the overall cost of the divorce. If you have a house, modest savings and perhaps some simple retirement accounts, then the legal effort – and cost – of dividing those assets between you and your spouse can be fairly simple. However, if you have a second home, valuable collections, multiple or complex investments or are a business owner, then the situation can be more difficult. Obtaining the appropriate value on these assets is essential, and it takes time and money to do it correctly. 

Finding What’s Right For You 

For some people, a traditional litigated divorce is the only option. However, most people are not aware of the alternative processes that allow them to control the timeline and outcome and reach an agreement without the high cost of the courtroom. An experienced family law attorney will be your best resource to help you determine what your correct path may be, but they can only advise you. Ultimately, you’re the one that must make the final decision. Deciding to marry was likely the most important decision in your life. When deciding on terminating that marriage, the second most important decision you will make is the process you choose because of the long-lasting impact it will have on you and your family.

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