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Divorce costs can soar when couples separate

Divorces don't have to be expensive, but couples in New York and across the U.S. may find that the cost of splitting from their spouse can run into the tens of thousands, even millions, of dollars. To a large extent, the cost of getting divorced depends on how amicable the separation is.

If couples can agree on things like visitation, child support and spousal support, legal costs can be minimized, but if they disagree on everything, needing their respective lawyers to step in, legal costs will likely skyrocket. When attorneys bill by the hour, fees may quickly soar when couples can't agree on simple things, like deciding which parent will pick up the child after an athletic contest or refusing to pay a modest amount toward spousal support -- it's possible that legal fees can add up to more money than the amount the couple is arguing about.

When a divorcing couple disagrees on some things, such as splitting marital assets, using a financial planner, whose hourly rates may be lower than an attorney's, to assist with the financial picture can save some money. Some couples may also choose to use mediators, also cheaper than attorneys, to help them reach agreement on contentious items.

If a couple getting a divorce can't agree on issues involving their children, or if one spouse has substantially more assets than the other, they may prefer to be represented by a divorce attorney, regardless of the cost. A divorce attorney may be able to look at the overall picture -- instead of just a small segment, as a financial planner or mediator might do -- and get to the heart of the issues more quickly.

Source: Today Money, "How to get divorced without breaking the bank," Susan Caminiti, Feb. 9, 2015

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