J.P. Morgan is said to have uttered the flippant and famous quip, “If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it.” That was easy for him to say; he was a robber baron, paid almost no tax (ever), and lived in a time (the 19th and early 20th centuries) when Virginians had lifetime earnings that seldom amounted to more than $10,000. If you are living in the 21st century, seeking an uncontested Virginia divorce, you would be foolish not to ask the cost. The answer, unfortunately, is complicated.
Is It Actually Uncontested?
With divorce cases, uncontested divorce is much less expensive than a contested divorce, since you and your wife have reached a mutual decision to part ways. You have amicably agreed to divide your property, have worked out a child custody and visitation schedule, and decided on spousal support. You have done all that, right?
If you have not worked out all those details, you will pay two attorneys to do that with you, and that is still less expensive than a contested divorce. Fret not: both your attorneys will work quickly to put into legally binding words whatever you and your wife have decided. They will not “run up the tab” by “running out the clock.”
Another thing to consider, and here your attorney will come clean with you: You may be better off beginning with your attorneys (you need one; your wife needs one). Rather than try to hash out all the details by yourselves, the two of you can consult with your own attorneys and know exactly what to consider:
- Retirement accounts
- Summer vacations
- Electronic visitation
- Child support payments — Planning should include future educational plans, too
- Work schedules
- Spousal support — undefined or defined duration; specific goals such as paying for education or boosting self-esteem
By engaging the services of a Virginia family law attorney early in your uncontested divorce, you can avoid an expensive omission. Forgetting, for example, about a vacation cabin in the Shenandoah Valley, or overlooking a retirement account from a previous job, could come back to haunt you years past your divorce.
What’s the Average Cost of Uncontested Divorce?
Researching legal fees at a Virginia family law firm’s own website may lead you to think the information will be biased, so we turn to a 100 percent neutral source, Virginia’s Circuit Courts. The Fee calculator the courts provide can help you determine smaller charges, such as having papers served to your spouse, clerk fees, court technology fund, and other costs. In Virginia Beach, you may face additional fees such as a Law Library fee.
As to the attorney fees, an uncontested divorce is absolutely the least expensive way to get legally parted from your wife, but fees can vary significantly. On average, says Lawyers.com, a Virginia divorce costs $14,500, but that is for both contested and uncontested divorces. You can pay significantly less to both your attorneys by agreeing to solutions quickly, leading to fast production of all the necessary documents.
Several law firms advertise uncontested and fast divorces in Virginia that cost just a few hundred dollars. These ultra-low-cost divorces are theoretically possible, but are likely to leave many areas unaddressed. Anything involving property division, for example, will drive up your costs.
The Iron Triangle of Business Indeed Applies
Business leaders are familiar with the iron triangle of business:
You get to pick two; you can have a fast and good divorce, but it will not be cheap. You can have a cheap and fast divorce, but it will not be good. You get the idea.
Even with an uncontested divorce, you want your attorney to take time with your papers. You want full protection built into the property settlement agreement, so your retirement fund in 20 years does not look like Swiss cheese.
You can stretch your legal dollar, even with the less expensive uncontested divorce, by following your lawyer’s advice, taking good notes, saving up questions for one efficient Q&A session, and ironing out — with your wife — as much of the divorce ahead of time as you two can agree upon. What you jot down in layman’s terms, your attorney can draft in proper legal language.
Get down to brass tacks with your attorney. Be upfront about your budget concerns, and ask for some guidelines on hourly costs. Attorneys are officers of the court, but they are also business people; they understand client concerns about money.
Call the Divorce Attorneys for Men
Contested or uncontested divorce, please consider calling 757-383-9184 to reach The Firm For Men, or contact our divorce lawyers for men online. We offer reasonable, realistic fees and zealous, dedicated service to the men of Virginia in all matters of family law. The cost of a divorce may be difficult to gauge, but we can assure you, you will pay more when you choose a lawyer who costs less.