Triaging Your Divorce Needs – Part 1: Understanding the Different Types of Divorce and the Cost

 

By The Divorce Housing Pro – 07/19/23

Divorce, a life-altering decision, can be emotionally overwhelming, legally complex, and financially draining. As couples face the prospect of ending their marriage, the process of untangling their lives can seem like an insurmountable challenge. However, with the right approach and understanding of the different types of divorce, it is possible to triage your needs and budget effectively during this difficult time.

Divorce isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Each case presents its own complexities and merits consideration of the most suitable approach. From the traditional adversarial litigations to the more amicable collaborative and mediated methods, we will examine the pros and cons of each.

Understanding the financial implications of divorce is equally crucial. From legal fees and court costs to property division and spousal support considerations, finances play a pivotal role in shaping the outcome of the process. By delving into the potential costs and benefits of each divorce type, we hope to equip you with the tools to protect your financial well-being.

Full Representation

When opting for full representation, you engage a professional, usually an attorney in this context, who handles all aspects of your divorce. They provide comprehensive support, including legal advice, document preparation, negotiations, and court representation. It is a good option for complex, acrimonious or difficult divorces where the need for more support is likely.  It is, however, usually the most expensive as well, but you do have some control.

While the attorney is your main representative, you are not beholden to their choices for other providers. There are a host of needs that are interrelated and essential to your legal counsel giving the proper advice.  Additionally, while this option offers extensive expertise, it is typically the most expensive due to the attorney’s involvement. However, by utilizing providers of your choice with whom you can negotiate services working along side your attorney.  For example, I work with many clients who want me to provide the housing support and provide the information to their attorney.  This ensures that you are properly covered from a legal perspective, but also ensures that you get a comprehensive analysis of your housing options, financial implications, and mortgage planning.

Mediation

Mediation involves a neutral third-party mediator who facilitates communication and negotiation between divorcing parties. It aims to reach mutually agreeable solutions without resorting to litigation. It has some similarities to full representation as you have a main single point of contact.  Because of this it is also similar in that you have the option contract with providers of your choice for needs such as housing or tax advisory or you can use their recommended service providers.  You may still also need to hire an attorney to proof up the result of the mediation if your mediator does not practice law, so take that into account as well.

From a cost perspective you may find it less costly because you are just paying one mediator as opposed to multiple attorneys.  Additionally, mediated divorces are usually marked by a desire on both sides to settle in an efficient manner.  This can equate to a shorter process which can also help.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce involves a team of professionals, including attorneys, financial advisors, and therapists, working together to facilitate the resolution.  It is similar to but less well known than mediation, but way more focused on the results and coming to a true collaborative solution generated by input from all stakeholders and professionals.  These professionals are typically from the financial, legal and mental health disciplines.  This does not, however, mean that you cannot integrate others such as housing professionals, like The Divorce Housing Pro, and many of the collaborative professionals I have seen will recommend that the couple get assistance and input from areas not covered.

From a cost perspective, collaborative divorce can me a mixed outcome.  While there is a team of professionals that are standard and they need to get paid, there is a lot of evidence that, like mediation, the process happens more quickly and the outcomes are better saving potential costs on the back-end.  This is usually not the best choice for highly resource constrained couples because of the upfront cost, but there are aspects of the process that you can bring to other divorce types.

Limited Scope Representation

Limited scope representation allows you to hire an attorney for specific tasks or areas of the divorce process. An example is using an attorney to proof a draft agreement created by a couple through their own negotiation or through a non-attorney mediator.  This approach offers flexibility and cost control by tailoring legal support to your specific needs.  It lends itself very well for divorce situations where the couple can work through a lot of the negotiations, but need some specialized help to ensure that the solutions are legally compliant.

In such areas as housing, this means that the you may need to hire other professionals to advise you in the different areas that require settlement, such as housing and financial planning. This saves a lot of cost as professionals in these disciplines are usually less costly. In this capacity, providers like The Divorce Housing Pro are used to complement limited scope representation, benefitting from our housing analysis report and consulting services to make informed decisions regarding your housing options, property division, and financial planning.

As I covered earlier, this is a good course of action to limit cost, but there is also peril in this model.  Because you are doing everything but the essential legal activities, you own the research and solution synthesis for all aspects of your divorce.  While this does open the door to significant cost savings, divorcing couples should not I strenuously recommend that they do not ignore these other areas and that they get sufficient help to make sure that there solutions are make sense, are compliant to any regulations and most importantly are executable.  Google does not replace experience and reality, mistakes, omissions and unexecutable plans end up costing far more and sometimes have irreversible adverse results.

Pro Se/Do-It-Yourself (DIY)

This is the most unstructured option and I rarely recommend that anyone go this way unless their situation is simple and straightforward.  Remember, opting for a pro se approach means handling the divorce process without professional assistance. While it offers the most control over costs, it requires significant knowledge, time, and effort.  While you may not be writing a check, the amount of time that you spend researching a process that will hopefully never happen again ads soft costs that you may not be considering in the form of lost productivity and sleep and you may find that the answers still require translation into layman’s terms by a professional, who will not likely want to provide this to you gratis, especially on the legal side.  If you have already figured out that pro se often leads to limited scope representation.

If you go this route, you need to own the process and determine where you need help and where you don’t.  You need to truly and honestly assess the viability of betting your entire future post-divorce life on your ability to navigate every aspect of your marital life that needs untangling.  If you are unsure, most professionals will provide an initial consult to determine their ability to help.  This is not going to be a data dump for you to get easy answers, but moreover a chance to make key decisions.

For example, The Divorce Mortgage Pro’s services can be a valuable resource during the DIY process, providing you with a comprehensive housing analysis, financial insights, and mortgage planning guidance to ensure you make well-informed decisions on your own.  Because your home is likely your biggest asset, you may decide to hire them or a similar expert.  In a pro se divorce you will have to do this with every aspect of the divorce that you deem important enough to seek help.  Again, do not cut corners and make sure that you are also evaluating the potential cost of not hiring a needed professional.

The Good News is That You Have Choices

Whether you’re contemplating an amicable separation or anticipating a more contentious split, this article aims to guide you through the complexities of triaging your needs and budget during a divorce. We believe that knowledge is the cornerstone of empowerment, and by becoming informed about the available options, you can approach your divorce with clarity, confidence, and compassion.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. By gaining insight into the various types of divorce and their costs and benefits, you can make well-informed decisions that prioritize both your emotional well-being and financial stability. Let us now embark on this enlightening exploration of divorce triage to find the path that best suits your needs and budget.