How Much Will My Colorado Divorce Cost?

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    Every person going through a Colorado divorce wants to know how much his or her case will cost if they hire an attorney. Determining the costs at the beginning of a case is difficult, if not impossible. It’s sometimes hard to make even a rough guess because the cost will depend on a number of factors.

    Complexity of Your Divorce

    The first factor in determining the cost of your divorce is the nature and complexity of your case. Most of the time a divorce attorney can give you an idea of these issues during an interview. For example, if a person is self-employed the cost will be higher because it will require an attorney to determine whether claimed deductions are “reasonable and necessary” if child support or alimony is at issue. And if a party wants to relocate with children, the attorney’s fees will be significant because the case will likely go to trial. These are just a few examples of ways the cost of a divorce can be on the higher side.

    In contrast, if both parties earn an equal, consistent salary and all of their money is in a single savings account that was started during the marriage, the attorney’s fees will likely be minimal. The costs for a 1-year marriage will likely be less than one of 30+ years. Similarly, if there is a prenup or marital agreement involved, it can reduce the costs of a divorce. But if there is a fight over the validity of the agreement, the costs can be on the higher side. It all depends. The expected cost of a divorce can change in midstream if a new issue comes up while the case is proceeding.

    Settlement vs. Trial

    As referenced above for a relocation case, a second factor is settlement vs. trial. Many factors are involved in reaching a negotiated settlement:

    • If you and the other party try to negotiate a settlement, how long will it take to reach an agreement?
    • How much time will be spent drafting the initial proposal? How much time will be spent before the response?
    • How close will the response be to the first proposal? Or how far off?
    • Will negotiations be in person, over the phone or in writing?
    • Will a settlement be done at mediation?
    • Does the other party want to settle? Does she want to hold out for a better deal?
    • Does he want to dig in his heels and get you to make more concessions? Or does the other side just want to delay a trial?
    • How many drafts will it take to prepare the final agreement?

    Cost of Trial

    If the case is tried in court, an entirely different set of factors will be involved:

    • How long will it take to prepare for the hearing?
    • Who will do the work? Does your divorce attorney delegate to associate attorneys, paralegals and assistants? How much experience does the support staff have?
    • How long will it take to conduct “discovery,” that is, to obtain documents and answers to written questions from the other side? Will you need to take the deposition of the other side and their witnesses, that is, ask questions in person under oath in front of a court reporter? Will the other side cooperate in discovery or engage in “stonewalling” to resist disclosure? Will you have to go to court for an order compelling responses? Does your divorce attorney use e-discovery software?
    • Will you have to hire expert witnesses such as a CPA or appraiser to testify?
    • How long will it take to schedule a trial? Once again, will the other side cooperate or make choosing a trial date difficult?
    • Will there be lots of cases ahead of yours, which might result in your being “bumped” off the trial calendar for that day?
    • Will it take one day or three days for the trial?
    • How long will it take for the judge or arbitrator to make a decision?
    • Once the decision is made, how long will it take to draft the order? How long will it take for the attorneys to agree on its terms (or for the judge to determine the wording if there is a disagreement)?

    These—and many other factors—are what determine the cost of a Colorado divorce.

    Kalamaya | Goscha is a Colorado law firm specializing in divorcechild supportchild custodypersonal injury, DUI and criminal defense with offices located in Edwards, Glenwood Springs and Aspen. (This post is based on materials originally published by Mark Sullivan.)