First Person: The High Cost of Attorney Fees in My Divorce

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My divorce cost me several thousand dollars when it was all said and done. The only reason it cost this much was because we argued about issues.

Round One

The parenting plan was probably the most expensive part of our first round. We went back and forth on this one several times. Every call or email to my lawyer cost me at least $20. Then there was the cost of having my attorney review all of the rest of documentation as well and making revisions based on my feedback. Then we would get revisions from my ex-husband's attorney. Every time the attorneys talked or sent emails, which also cost me at least $20 each time. If my ex-husband and I had gone to a mediator or had come to an agreement on issues between ourselves, the divorce would have been much less expensive.

Round Two

Fast forward to about a year and a half after our divorce was final. We now had to go through round two. Certain issues were not spelled out clearly enough in the initial parenting plan paperwork. This led to many issues, arguments, and long email conversations. Our divorce paperwork mandated that we attempt mediation before going to the courts. We went through round one of mediation where each of our attorneys were present. Unfortunately, nothing helpful came from that mediation so we went onto yet another round of mediation. Altogether, it cost me about $1,000 for each mediation process. This included my attorney's travel time, expenses and the time he spent with me at the mediation sessions. Given the fact that my attorney and I spent about half the time just sitting in a room as we waited for the mediator to get done with my ex-husband and his attorney, I found this whole thing to be extremely costly. In addition to that, I had to pay for part of the mediator's costs each time too. After mediation, we once again had paperwork going back and forth. Motions were drafted and filed which cost another several hundred dollars.

I learned a few different lessons from all of this. One, it would have been much better to be completely explicit in all parts of the parenting plan the first time around. Two, it would have been much cheaper to attempt mediation without attorneys. I wish we had tried mediation for the initial divorce paperwork and for the changes we made after the divorce. It certainly would have saved both of us thousands of dollars in attorney fees.

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