The Cost of Litigation and the Process of Divorce

What are the costs associated with divorce?

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What many people never consider before they enter into divorce or post divorce litigation are the costs, both financial and emotional. This is because they fail to understand neither what they wish to achieve nor how expensive it can be to reach these goals. Sadly, many attorneys do not guide a potential client through these considerations but simply discuss how much they will charge and if the person can afford these charges they proceed and the process begins. However, the proper discussion is what you wish to achieve through your litigation and if the court system is the proper forum to help you achieve this result. Georgia uses an equity system when determining family matters. This does not mean that there will be a 50/50 division but an equitable division and this is based on the totality of the circumstances, the current statutes and often the opinion of the court hearing the evidence and testimony. In this equity system there rarely is satisfaction if the parties seek some sort of validation or revenge, it will not happen. The courts hear hundreds of matters, all with similar facts and complaints; and as a result they tend to be very cynical places and rarely does a party feel validated when they leave. This is why it is important to have well defined goals and discuss these goals with your attorney before proceeding with divorce or post divorce litigation.

Often I have clients who come to my office and as we discuss their individual situation and the potential issues that will arise through the process it becomes evident that they will not benefit from prolonged litigation. Most attorneys understand the issues and know very quickly what will be and not be achieved through the process. It is the ethical attorney who discusses honestly and openly these issues with their client and advises them accordingly. It is very easy in this emotional practice to allow the client to believe they are going to receive a certain result without advising them of realistic expectations. I have often become involved in litigation in which the parties have spent thousands of dollars on matters that should never been allowed to spiral out of control to that degree, but when there are thousands of dollars being spent on vengeful litigation that will never receive the desired result sometimes attorneys do not have the incentive to end the matter. Other times there is a lack of communication between the attorney and the client which results in substantial misunderstandings regarding expectations and results.

Not all matters are the same and because of this divorces must be handled effectively at the beginning of the process and it is essential your attorney has all of the necessary information to proceed accordingly. If there is abuse against a spouse or children there is a need for urgency and protective hearings or emergency hearings. If there are funds being mismanaged or stolen then there may need to be injunctive relief or enforcement of the standing order. Other divorces show themselves to have very little points of contention and although the parties may despise one another there is very little to be gained from expensive and prolonged litigation. In fact, moving forward and being unnecessarily litigious will not only rarely achieve the desired result but may cost a party additional grief in the form of sanctions and attorney fees. This is why it is essential the attorney truly listen to the client.

If you are ready for divorce or seek to modify a divorce tell your potential attorney everything. Tell them what you expect to achieve and what your budget actually is to achieve these goals. If they promise the world and brag about their connections, run. If they listen attentively, tell you what you may not want to hear and offer sound advise regarding the process that can be achieved within your budget you may have found an ally that will support you through the process.