“How long will this take, and how much is it going to cost me?” This is a question divorce attorneys frequently hear from their clients. Sometimes it is a question regarding an aspect of the divorce – such as a custody modification, or the entire divorce. It is an interesting question.
First, there are some basics, most states have a statutorily mandated waiting period – ranging from 6 weeks to 12 months – during which you cannot get divorced. So it will take at least that long; and a lot of law firms charge a minimum non-refundable fee set aside to retain their time for this matter – so it will cost at least that much.
Imagine you are working as a maître d’ in a high-end restaurant and a man walks in by himself, and walks up to you and says, “How long will this take, and how much is it going to cost me?” What would you tell him? You might start by asking a few questions of your own, finding out the size of the party; whether it is a special occasion; whether someone else is planning to pay the bill, etc.
Here are a few questions written in “restaurant” and translated into “divorce” to give you a feel of how long a divorce might take, and what it might cost.
RESTAURANT: How many people are in your party?
DIVORCE: Do you have any minor children?
ANSWER: The more people – the more the bill is likely to cost.
RESTAURANT: Is this a special occasion, such as birthday or anniversary?
DIVORCE: Do you foresee a fight about custody or asset distribution?
ANSWER: These items will tend to increase the cost of the bill.
RESTAURANT: Will you be paying your own way, or is it a gift?
DIVORCE: Are you financing this from your own pocket or someone else’s?
ANSWER: While it will cost the “patron” nothing, people have a tendency to run higher bills, and take a longer time, when it is not their own money funding it.
RESTAURANT: Do you have tickets to a show this evening?
DIVORCE: Is either of the parties pregnant, or involved with someone else?
ANSWER: Just like theater patrons who need to have a quick bite and get out the door, divorcing parties can find ways to shorten the process if they have already found their next relationship.
RESTAURANT: Will anyone be consuming alcohol?
DIVORCE: Will anyone be consuming alcohol?
ANSWER: Nothing sky-rockets a restaurant bill like a few cocktails, or a bottle of wine. Similarly, nothing makes an already unhappy couple find reasons to fight like letting them drink at the wrong times or in the wrong combinations. Even amicable people seem to pick fights when they have had too much to drink.
Every case is different, and each divorce has its own built-in trajectory of how long it is going to take from when the first party knows a divorce is necessary until a judge declares them both single and unmarried. You can affect some, but not all, of the variables. Knowing what to expect, though, can help make the process more palatable.
What We Love: Speaking of restaurants – why not start planning your divorce party, to give you something positive to focus on, while the process takes its time.