How much does a divorce cost?

The Cost of Divorce in Oregon

Among the reasons that some couples put off filing for divorce is the perceived cost. However, not all divorces are expensive and obtaining a divorce may be less expensive that most people realize.

There are two components to divorce costs. The first are the filing fees and the court fees that must be paid to file a divorce. As of September 2019, there is a $287 filing fee for each party. Under certain circumstances, courts are able to wave these filing fees or defer their payment to a later date. There is also an additional $40 fee that typically must be paid by the filing party to effectuate service. However, this fee could be more if the non-filing spouse is difficult to locate.

Those who choose to work with an attorney will also have to pay attorney’s fees. Many Oregon divorce lawyers provide free consultations, where prospective clients can come in to discuss their case and have a few of their basic questions answered. If the client wants to retain the lawyer’s services, they must usually pay either a single up-front fee or a retainer fee. Typically, the more complex the divorce, the more an attorney will charge to handle the case, and the less likely an attorney will be to agree to represent the client for a one-time fee. In these cases, an attorney may ask the client to pay a retainer, which is a lump sum that will be used up as the lawyer conducts work on the case. Once the retainer is gone, the client will need to make another payment. If money is a concern, some attorneys will agree to allow a party to make installment payments.

An important thing to keep in mind when it comes to the cost of a divorce is that the more issues that can be agreed upon, the less expensive a divorce will be. Thus, it may be cheaper to attend mediation in hopes of reaching an agreement on a few of the most important issues such as child custody and parenting time and spousal support.

In a way, there are other tangential “costs” of divorce. Before a divorce is final, the court will typically award one party child support and spousal support. Child support is a major expense for the paying parent, as the court will require the parent make payments until the child is at least 18 years old. In addition, the parent with the greater income is the one who usually covers the costs of the child’s health insurance, childcare, medical expenses and education.

Spousal support can also be a “cost” of divorce. Also called alimony, spousal support or spousal maintenance refers to payments made from one spouse to the other after a divorce is final. In some cases, spouses agree the among of spousal support. However, if the parties are unable to agree, a court will make the determination on its own. When considering whether spousal support is appropriate, a court looks at the following:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • The requesting spouse’s training, employment skills, and work experience;
  • The financial needs and resources of each spouse;
  • The tax ramifications spousal support will have on each spouse;
  • Whether either spouse has custody of a child or pays child support; and
  • Any other factors that are appropriate to consider in creating a fair order.

Most often, spousal support is ordered for a specific period of time. However, in long-term marriages, spousal support payments maybe indefinite. Like child support payments, Oregon spousal support orders can be modified by either party by showing that there has been a material change in circumstances since the original order.

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