Youve taken the leave your spouse high-dive and are floundering amid an emotional hurricane to protect your rights, your childrens rights and your assets.
Should you hire a family law lawyer?
First do the math.
What is the total net worth of your joint assets?
Many people have little to no equity in their homes, no investments, and large credit debt. Since the number one major cause of divorce stems from finances, debt will often be the primary driver of relationship failure.
According to Statistics Canada a typical divorce in Canada costs:
Uncontested- $550 to $1600
Contested- $2600- $18,5000
Separation Agreement $550-2500
Child Custody and Support- $1490 – $13,900
Keep in mind each spouse would pay the above fees to their own counsel while trying to support two households with the same income formerly used to support one. Also, be sure to add the applicable fees together. For example; separation agreement $ + child custody $ + contested divorce $= X. Then multiply the number by two parties.
The impact can be debilitating. Most cases that see trial will end up costing both parties a total of $40,000 or more. Ive known many cases that settled just prior to trial and ended up costing $18,000 per side.
Most consumers have debt near the maximum acceptable 40% total debt service ratio.
To calculate your debt service ratio, your monthly payments should not exceed 40% of your total gross income including mortgage, property taxes, credit cards, loans and lines-of credit. Now that you are supporting your own household, how much is your new debt service ratio?
Look at a simple balance sheet. After you pay legal fees, how much money will be left? Will you end up financing your settlement on credit cards?
If you take emotions out of the equation and just look at the simple math, you may want to consider pushing for a professional mediator.
A mediators hourly rate is exponentially less than a lawyers and typically a divorce involving a retirement plan, a house and children will take 4-6 hours of mediation.
Mediation only works when both parties are reasonable.
If your former spouse is highly unreasonable, abusive, or a narcissist, you should make the decision knowing fully their primary motivation may be not to settle, but revenge. This type of personality sets out to do as much damage as possible to their ex-partner with the goal of robbing them of any potential joy and trying to maintain a sense of power and control.
In these cases, you may end up spending $25,000 to protect $5,000 in assets.
The bottom line? Look at the marriage. So goes the marriage, so goes the divorce.
Many people believe the law will protect their children and their assets. The reality is that no family court judge can force a person to behave. If a former spouse wants to hide money, avoid support payments, and recklessly destroy joint credit ratings, they can.
Even a court order to protect assets is not worth the paper it’s written on if you are dealing with a vendictive person.
How your spouse behaved when they loved you is the barometer of how they will behave when you decide to leave them. If they were abusive, irresponsible, or spiteful, it will only escalate. Prepare for a tidal wave of mean tactics.
If you were married to a kind, loving person who had positive relationships with friends and family members, you will likely experience a more reasonable and fair divorce.
With a 50% divorce rate, those who have not yet committed to a marriage should seriously consider a prenuptial agreement. In the end, a contract will be exponentially cheaper than the cost of divorce.
Some may argue that a prenup undermines the trust in a relationship. Most experts would agree that