Family Law Specialist Explains the Costs of Divorce in Miami, FL
Miami divorce lawyers advise on managing expenses throughout the legal process
The cost of divorce is a much-lamented but often misunderstood subject. Parties often conflate two separate categories of cost: the expenses during the legal process and the financial ramifications, including alimony, child support and the division of marital property, once the divorce is final. At Rafool, LLC, as Miami divorce attorneys, we are conscious of our duty to control both types of costs. We assiduously guard against runaway litigation expenses, and we fight to resolve each case on the best financial terms possible. However, the client also has a role to play in determining how expensive a divorce becomes. We provide detailed projections of expenses, so you know where your money is going. We also offer cost-saving services, such as mediation, to deliver positive results without incurring unreasonable expenses.
What is the cost of a divorce in Florida?
A divorce in Florida will cost $409 to cover the Miami-Dade County clerk’s fee for dissolution of marriage. In addition there is a fee for the process server. If you hire an attorney — and you certainly should — charges vary depending on experience and reputation. Most charge a retainer and bill by the hour. Hourly rates vary widely, but it’s important to remember that you get what you pay for.
In addition to these basic expenses, your divorce may require discovery, the process of pretrial preparation that is a major driver of cost for divorce. Discovery expenses include:
- Attorney fees to prepare your interrogatories and help you answer the other party’s
- Expenses related to subpoenaing documents from the other party
- Costs of reproducing documents for the other party
- Attorney’s time meeting and conferring with opposing counsel
- Expert witness fees
- Court reporter fees
Deposing witnesses is a very expensive process. For example, if you are in a contentious child custody battle, you might hire a child psychologist to examine your children and prepare a report. That report gets shared with the other side. The other side deposes the witness. At the deposition, there are attorneys for each side, the expert witness, and a court reporter who prepares the transcript of the deposition. All of these are highly skilled professionals, and each bills by the hour. This process repeats for each witness either side chooses to call.
Later, if your divorce goes to trial, you must pay court fees and your attorney’s hourly rate for court appearances. It’s easy to see how the legal bills can escalate quickly, but is there anything you can do to cut costs?
How you can help reduce the costs of your divorce
The most important step you can take to reduce the costs of your divorce is to adopt a cooperative state of mind to the extent that’s possible. Certainly there are cases where a party is justified in aggressively litigating divorce issues. If you’re embroiled in a high-net-worth divorce and your spouse is trying to cheat you out of substantial property, you need to fight back. If your spouse is a threat to your children, you’ve got to protect them. But if you and your spouse simply need to settle your affairs and move on, you should not act as an impediment to that process. Rather, you should:
- Focus on your future goals, rather than reliving the past.
- Choose a cooperative process, such as collaboration or mediation, to resolve your issues.
- Voluntarily disclose all financial data and other information to avoid discovery.
- When it’s necessary to have an expert opinion, hire one neutral expert and promise to abide by their decision.
By taking a cooperative path, you can significantly reduce your costs and the time it takes to finalize your divorce. You can also reach a settlement that gives you greater control over the outcome and protects you from a potentially adverse ruling by a judge.
Paying for your spouse’s divorce expenses
In cases where there is one high-earning spouse, a dependent spouse can ask the court for reasonable attorney fees. Thus, one spouse winds up paying for both sides. This creates an incentive for the high-earner to settle, because he or she would foot the bill for a protracted fight. It may also, however, create an incentive for the dependent spouse to drag out proceedings to further punish the other. Our experienced attorneys can guard against these types of abuses to help keep costs in check.