The answer to this question is dependent on the method you choose to dissolve your marriage, as well as the complexity of your case.
The Basics: In every Arizona divorce, there are filing fees charged by the Court. The person who initiates the divorce has a $321.00 filing fee. The other party has a $256.00 filing fee. However, either party may qualify for a deferral or waiver of Court fees if financial circumstances support that request. If the parties have children, they also need to each take a Parent Information Program Class, which costs $50.00 per person.
Traditional Litigation in Arizona: If one chooses to represent him/herself, the costs of litigation could be limited to the above. The Court may order the parties to retain a financial expert or a custody evaluator, or attend a parenting conference or court mediation, which results in additional costs. With attorneys, the cost of litigation depends on how much work the attorney has to perform (for example, how many letters and court filings he/she has to write, how many meetings or court hearings he/she has to attend; how much research he/she has to conduct). It is not unusual for costs to range from $3,500.00 to over $50,000.00 per person. If a party just uses an attorney to prepare documents and give minimal advice, the cost is lower. It is also possible for one party to have to pay a portion of the other party’s attorney’s fees. The Court can order that based on the disparity in income between the parties or the reasonableness of each party’s positions. However, an award of fees is in the Court’s discretion.
Arizona Mediation: Mediation tends to cost a fraction of the cost of litigation (with attorneys), and it is completed in a fraction of the time. With mediation, the parties jointly select one mediator who uses conflict resolution skills to help the parties reach agreements. The cost of mediation can be as low as $250.00 and generally does not cost more than $1,500.00.
Arizona Collaborative Divorce: Collaborative divorce is a team approach to divorce, where the parties work with a variety of professionals and agree to resolve matters outside of Court. It is generally more expensive than mediation but less expensive than the average litigated cost. The parties each retain one collaboratively trained attorney and one coach (to help them through the emotional aspects of the divorce), and then they jointly retain a financial specialist and a child specialist. While the parties are paying more professionals, each professional performs just the tasks he/she is best equipped to perform, making the process cost-efficient.
Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona. If you have questions about mediation or family law, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or alona(at)sglawaz.com. You can also visit: Azmediator.com. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.
Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
a Professional Limited Liability Company
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260