Image of a ceramic pig bank with change spread across a wooden table denoting costs of a divorce.


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Just as it is impossible to predict exactly how long your case will take, it is difficult to realistically estimate the total cost of your litigation, even when your attorney knows the issues that will be contested and the strength of the parties’ feelings. If you and/or your spouse has completely lost trust in the other, want complete discovery on all issues, and desire to argue many issues to the bitter end, then the process will be long, drawn out and expensive.

Going to trial is always more expensive than settling.

Be aware that you will pay for your case in three ways – with your time, your emotions, and your money:

Time: You will have to spend time preparing your lawsuit. Your attorney will prepare your case, but this can only be done with your help. Your full cooperation is absolutely critical to your case.

Attorneys bill for their time and advice. If you can do some of the groundwork, your money can be used more efficiently. If you are not prepared to spend time on your case, the outcome may not be as satisfactory or as cost-efficient as it might have been.

Emotions: A domestic dispute is one of life’s most painful experiences. Your emotions will likely be on a roller coaster. In most cases, both parties do not want to end the relationship to the same degree, and one person has been more emotionally hurt than the other. This is one reason to consider counseling as you go through the process of divorce and resolving the myriad issues involved, legal and otherwise.

The more issues to be resolved, the more painful the process. It is not unusual for one party to raise issues simply as a way of prolonging the matter, or punishing a spouse. Be aware of this. If it seems to be happening in your case, your attorney will call it to your attention.

Money: Preparing and trying a lawsuit is very expensive. Scrutinize the issues at an early stage, and determine which ones can be settled. You do not have to make unreasonable or unnecessary concessions, but you should look carefully at issues that separate you and your spouse. You do have some control, and you can make concessions that will resolve your case more quickly, and will reduce your costs. Your attorney will identify issues that are in your best interest to settle. Remember, if you go to court, you loose almost all control of the outcome and an uninterested third party (the judge) will decide your future. You should also consider if you insist on going to court, you will more than likely not get everything you want.

This article is for information purposes only and is not to be considered or substituted as legal advice. The information in this article is based on North Carolina state laws in effect at the time of posting.

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