How Much Does A Divorce Cost?
This is the most common question we hear, and understandably, people are frustrated with our answer: “It depends.”
Unfortunately, every divorce is different, and some can involve complex issues, and multiple factors can dramatically affect the cost making it difficult to estimate the total cost.
The average cost of a divorce in the United States is between $10,000 and $20,000. But again, this estimate is just that, and every divorce is different. In a complex divorce, it is not uncommon for the cost to exceed $100,000. The factors at work include whether or not the parties can reach an agreement amicably, how much work will need to be done to determine all relevant facts, how complex is the marital estate, and whether or not the case is assigned to a particular court. Additionally, opposing counsel hired by your soon-to-be ex-spouse and also dramatically impact the cost.
While the numbers can be intimidating, as a client, you do have some control over how much a divorce cost you. Being proactive in providing information to your lawyers, compiling and organizing it, and being reasonable and following your lawyers advice can dramatically reduce the amount of time and litigation necessary, and accordingly this can keep fees and costs at a reasonable level.
Unfortunately, divorce can be very emotional, and sometimes parties are blinded by their emotions. Our experience has taught us that’s we must be firm with our clients and telling them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. We understand it is difficult during a divorce to follow the legally and financially appropriate advice when principle seems to be most important. Nevertheless, based upon our combined almost 50 years of experience in family law, we are well able to manage client expectations and to give good advice while remaining empathetic and loyal to our clients as they go through what is likely the most difficult situation they will ever face.
As to specific costs, as stated, every case is different. Sometimes it is necessary and complex or highly contested divorce is to hire experts to deal with issues regarding valuation of assets and child custody evaluations. The cost of employing these other professionals often dramatically increases the cost of the divorce.
The best way to manage the cost of your divorce is to educate yourself as early as possible with regard to your rights and obligations. Anyone considering divorce should consult an experienced family law attorney. Be prepared at that consultation to share as much information as you can regarding the income of each spouse, the assets and debts of the marital estate, all expenses, and all facts relevant to your children. An experienced family law attorney will be able to provide you a roadmap and advice, and more specific information regarding the estimated costs of the divorce.
Can both parties use the same attorney?
Although this is not always the ideal, it is possible for both parties to use the same lawyer. You will want to ensure that the lawyer has both parties sign waivers of the obvious conflict of interest, and it is prudent to make sure that both of you meet with that lawyer for the first time together so you can ensure each party’s interests are being represented equally and equitably. You should be cautious about this arrangement, since even the cost of sharing an attorney can be quite expensive. If you are using the same attorney and’s cannot come to an agreement, you may both be required thereafter to hire to new attorneys, one for each of you. An attorney who starts at representing both of you cannot ethically continue to represent just one of you if your negotiations fall apart. If you feel you are going to have a contested divorce, it is probably best to retain your own counsel rather than share.
Can both parties use Black & LoBello to mediate the divorce issues and complete the divorce?
Yes. In the event both parties agree, we welcome the opportunity to serve both spouses and meeting to obtain all necessary facts so that the issues can be identified, and then to work with both parties to formulate a resolution which is consistent with the law and which, as nearly as possible, meets the wishes and expectations of both parties. I do not always recommend this course, but where you feel you and your soon-to-be ex can reasonably negotiates and work together to resolve all issues, it is wise to share an attorney to mediate those issues and to draft the necessary paperwork so that nothing is missed. Whether you share a lawyer, or each party has their own, we cannot stress enough the importance of utilizing an experienced family law attorney to ensure that the divorce is completed properly. Litigants who do not have attorneys, or those who use attorneys not experienced in family law may find out years later that important matters either were not addressed or were addressed improperly. This can end up costing thousands of dollars in lost assets, unnecessarily accrued debts, lost opportunity for tax savings and the like.
What about our children?
Child custody is often the most emotional issue in the divorce case, and because the laws of this State give judges a great deal of discretion regarding an only child custody proceedings, but also the outcome, custody disputes can quickly become very expensive. In no arena is it more important to have an experienced family law attorney who understands the judges in our local family courts. The child custody laws in our States have evolved toward a preference for joint legal and joint physical custody, under the theory that the best parent is both parents. Nevertheless while the norm today is sharing custody, there are many cases which necessitate a designation of a primary physical custodian where there are fitness issues concerning one of the parents. Ultimately, the court must decide what is in the best interest of the children. Consulting a lawyer as soon as you believe you may get a divorce is critical when you have minor children. Understanding your rights and obligations, the rights of your children, and a strategy for ensuring that your children are protected during and after your divorce is the first issue you should address, and if possible, you should do so long before you file. Other issues such as the request of one parent to relocate with the children outside of the State can also result in complex and expensive litigation, all of which you may be able to avoid if you plan ahead and hire an experienced family law attorney. At any rate, as a general rule, if you believe that child custody may become an issue, you should not move out of your home prior to either party filing for divorce and consulting an experienced family law attorney. Likewise, if you believe divorce as possible, and you do not want your children living outside of the State following the divorce, you should not grant permission to your spouse to take the children out of State for an extended period of time. Contrary to what many people believe, it is not illegal for one parent to take a child out of State for a vacation. It is illegal for a parent to remove a child from the State in an attempt to withhold the child from the other parent or to conceal the child’s whereabouts. However, vacations are allowed, but the courts do expect parents to share information with each other when they take such vacations.
Does the Court split everything “50/50”?
Nevada is a Community Property state, and the general rule is that all assets acquired during the marriage and all income earned during the marriage are owned equally. Nevertheless, there are numerous exceptions to this general rule, depending on many factors. You will need to explore with your attorney not only the current value of an asset, but other factors including the source of funds utilized to acquire an asset. Every asset and debt of either party should be analyzed taking this into consideration, and additionally, there may be financial planning and tax advantages to effectuating a division other than an equal division of assets. The issue of alimony can also come into play, and the asset division can impact the availability of alimony, as well as the amount and duration.
How long will it take to get divorced?
Again, the unpopular but practical answer to this question is, “It depends”. An uncontested divorce can be completed fairly quickly in Nevada, and generally this takes between 2 to 4 weeks. Unlike other states, there is no “waiting.” In Nevada. One party must be a resident for at least six weeks prior to filing before the court will have jurisdiction to issue a divorce. If both parties do not live in Nevada, it is wise to seek counsel regarding which State should handle the divorce. There may be many strategic considerations involved in cross jurisdictional divorces, and in that instance, you may want to consult a lawyer not only in Nevada but also in your soon-to-be ex’s home state. For an uncontested divorce, you will simply need to provide your attorney with all necessary information, and in turn the lawyer will draft the necessary pleadings. The Court likely will not require you to appear for a hearing. After all of the pleadings are submitted, it generally takes 1 to 2 weeks for the Court to sign off on the Decree of Divorce. Parties divorcing in Nevada who have minor children are also generally required to take a one-time class which is designed to assist the children in coping with the divorce. The course is available online and generally can be completed very quickly and will not slow down the process. For a contested divorce, estimations of the time it will take again depend on many factors. Contested divorces where both child custody and division of assets and finances often take the longest. In this jurisdiction, courts generally require child custody matters to be addressed prior to addressing financial issues. Other factors include assignment of your case to a particular judge, as the time each judge takes to bring their cases to conclusion varies widely. The attorney chosen by your spouse may also be a factor. In our experience, contested divorces generally take between 6 to 12 months. Complex contested divorces involving extraordinary child custody issues or sizable estates will likely take longer.
I have just been served Summons and Complaint, what happens
This is generally called “legal process.” You need to act quickly and should consult with an attorney immediately. Different courts have different deadlines for responding and figuring out the deadlines without a lawyer can be tricky. For example, in federal court, one must respond to a complaint within 21 days after being served. Whereas in state court, one must respond within 20 days after being served. In eviction cases, you may have as little as 5 days.
Our seasoned litigation attorneys can help you through the complex process and assist you in developing an appropriate response, and more importantly, a litigation strategy to match the needs and economics of the matter.
I have just been served Summons and Complaint, should I text or email my business partners, employees, friends or others to discuss the Complaint and the claims asserted?
No. You should not engage in texting or emailing discussions about the case. Such communications will likely be discoverable, will certainly increase the costs of litigation and could hurt your case. You should contact an attorney immediately. And if you contact an attorney via email or text, use your personal email or personal smart phone not your work account.
What sort of information do I need to gather to give to my lawyer for my business dispute?
When you meet with us for your consultation, we usually ask you to bring copies of all contracts, agreements, communications (such as texts, letters, emails) and any important documents. You will need to make sure that you do not delete any emails, texts or other electronic communications. You also need to preserve all documents, evidence and electronically stored information (e.g., information stored in computers, smart phones, tablets and similar devices).
The smoking gun email that really hurts my case is in my server, but no one ones about it, should I delete it?
No. You have an obligation to preserve all emails, texts and electronically stored information. In most cases, the deletion of information may be uncovered and the results of destroying evidence can be severe, often worse that the impact of perceived “bad evidence.” Sanction include monetary penalties, adverse inference instructions to the jury at trial, or even dismissal of certain legal claims or defenses. The best thing to do is to tell your attorney right away.
I am the President, Director, Officer or Owner of a company that has been sued, can I appear on behalf of the company?
No. Corporations, limited liability companies and similar business organizations are legal entities which the law generally treats like separate, individual parties. Thus, many court rules require legal entities to be represented by a licensed attorney in lawsuits or other court proceedings. Moreover, there are many litigation pitfalls that can inadvertently expose a company, and its directors, officers or owners to serious liability. The success and viability of any business often rests on considerable investments of time, effort and money. We can protect that investment and work with you to develop a reasonable case management and reasonable litigation budget.
I am really frustrated about my lawsuit, is it okay to vent my frustration to friends and family via social media (e.g., Facebook).
No. Anything that you post on social medial may be discoverable in the litigation, which means that your adversary, judge and jury will see your posts. Often, we vent frustration at the heat of the moment and sometime say things we regret. Remember, what you post in the Internet generally becomes permanent. So, whatever you post, you generally cannot take back. Moreover, your postings may be taken out of context and used against you.
In some cases, posting things about a lawsuit on social media has caused litigants to lose their cases or significant monetary settlements. A notable example involves a family that settled their lawsuit against a private school and received a sizable financial settlement. The settlement agreement required both sides to keep the terms of the settlement, including the money paid to the family, confidential. Well after the settlement was signed, the daughter boasted about how her family had “beaten the school” and the “school was forced to pay her family a lot of money.” The posting eventually was uncovered and the family lost their right to the settlement amount because the post violated the confidentiality provision of the settlement agreement. To make matters worse, the family was prohibited from reinstating their lawsuit against the school.
If you want to vent to a friend or family member, pick up the phone or have a face-to-face conversation but remember, the only person you can safely share information with is your lawyer.
I know the other side is lying, should I call them and record our conversation in an effort to expose the lies?
Under Nevada law, it is a crime to secretly record a telephone conversation. Both parties to the conversation must consent to the recording. Secretly recording a telephone conversation will not help your case (the recording would be ruled inadmissible) but could land you in serious trouble.
How much will this cost me?
There is no easy way to say it: litigation is expensive. While the cost certainly varies depending on the issues in the case, the amount in controversy and the parties involved, even the simplest case is not going to be a minor expense. We understand that and will discuss with you early on the likely costs you will be incurring and strategize with you to set realistic ligation goals in light of available resources and the value of the case and design a strategy to achieve them in a cost-efficient way.
I received a Subpoena requiring me to produce certain documents, do I need a lawyer?
In most instances, yes. A subpoena is something to take seriously and consulting counsel can assist you to not only properly respond, but also assert needed objections to protect your rights and the rights of others. It is important to produce what is required but also not produce what the requesting litigant is not entitled to have or is private information (yours or someone else’s). Many objections are waived if not properly asserted at the beginning. Spending a little now having counsel advise you will be much cheaper than what it will cost trying to fix a problem later.
What do I do if the press calls about my lawsuit?
While there may be times that talking to the press about your lawsuit is useful, those times are very, very rare. We strongly recommend you consider “no comment” until you and your lawyer have decided the benefits of saying something outweigh the risks. Remember, you will not “win” your case through the press. But you might lose it.
I want to see everything done on my case/everything filed, but I do not want to receive bulky mail or pay for postage, and my email has attachment size limits, are there any other options?
Yes! The Firm has invested in technology that will make it easy for you to review and collaborate with your lawyer. We can give you access to your file through a secure connection over the internet. You will be able to review and comment on documents and see a calendar of upcoming events.
What is a chapter 7 bankruptcy?
Both corporations and individuals are permitted to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Individual debtors are permitted to retain certain “exempt” property, while the remaining non-exempt assets are liquidated by a chapter 7 trustee. An individual debtor is entitled to seek a discharge of certain types of debt. A corporate entity does not receive a discharge. The trustee will distribute the funds from the liquidation to holders of claims (creditors) in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code.
What is a chapter 13 bankruptcy?
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, individuals with regular income repay a portion or all of their debt over an extended period of time (3-5 years). Chapter 13 may be appropriate for debtors who seek to retain certain assets through a repayment plan. An individual is eligible for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy as long as the individual has unsecured debts of less than $383,175 and secured debts of less than $1,149.525. See 11 U.S.C. § 109(e) (these amounts are subject to periodic change).
What is a Chapter 11 bankruptcy?
A Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be filed by corporate entities or certain individuals who do not qualify under Chapter 13, to reorganize without having to liquidate all assets. There is no debt limit in Chapter 11. The debtor is required to present a repayment plan. Creditors are entitled to vote on plans of reorganization submitted by the debtor. If the plan is accepted by the creditors and subsequently approved (“confirmed”) by the Bankruptcy Court, the debtor will be able to reorganize its personal or business affairs.
What happens when a bankruptcy is filed?
Generally, upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition, the “automatic stay” takes effect. An “automatic stay” prohibits creditors from commencing or continuing collection efforts against the debtor or its/his/her property. Certain actions listed in Section 362(b) of the Bankruptcy Code are not subject to the automatic stay (for example, criminal actions against the debtor or actions by governmental agencies to enforce police or regulatory powers). Creditors can seek relief from the “automatic stay” by filing a motion in the bankruptcy case.
What is a “341 meeting”?
The meeting of creditors is a hearing all debtors must attend in any bankruptcy proceeding. The 341 meeting is held outside of the presence of the judge and usually occurs between 20 and 40 days after the filing of the petition. It is also referred to as a “341 meeting” because it is mandated by Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code.
In Chapter 7 and 13 cases, the trustee assigned to the case conducts the meeting. In a Chapter 11 case, a representative of the United States Trustee’s Office conducts the meeting. At the meeting, the trustee or the representative of the U.S. Trustee reviews the debtor’s petition and schedules with the debtor. The debtor is required to answer questions under penalty of perjury about the debtor’s conduct, property, liabilities, financial condition, and any other matter that may affect the administration of the case or the debtor’s right to discharge.
The meeting is also referred to as a “meeting of creditors” because creditors are notified that they may attend and ask the debtor questions pertaining to assets or any other matter pertinent to the administration of the case.
What is a discharge?
A discharge prohibits creditors from taking action against the debtor on debts incurred prior to the bankruptcy petition date. Unless otherwise ordered by the Bankruptcy Court, a discharge does not prevent enforcement of a lien or encumbrance on property of the debtor.
A creditor or trustee may seek the denial of a debtor’s discharge based on certain actions listed in the Bankruptcy Code. 11 U.S.C. § 727. If the debtor’s discharge is denied, none of the debtor’s debts are discharged and all creditors can proceed to collect their debts against the debtor.
What is a non-dischargeable debt?
A creditor may also seek to have its specific debt found “non-dischargeable” based on certain prohibited actions listed in the Bankruptcy Code. 11 U.S.C. § 523. In a Chapter 7, examples of such actions include, fraudulent conduct, embezzlement, willful or malicious injury to another party. If a debt is found by the Bankruptcy Court to be non-dischargeable, the creditor that holds the debt is not prohibited from collecting the debt after the debtor received a discharge.
What is a Plan of Reorganization?
The Plan of Reorganization is a document that is filed with the Bankruptcy Court in Chapter 11 or 13 cases that sets out how a debtor intends to repay creditors. The plan divides creditors into classes. The plan sets forth the treatment of claims for each class of creditor and provides a means for the plan’s implementation (i.e. how the creditors will be paid).