Divorce Matrix

Although every family law matter is different and presents its own set of challenges, one cannot help but notice after representing and consulting with hundreds of individuals going through the divorce process there are "divorce types," patterns that are consistent from one divorce to the next. There are variations and hybrids of what I am about to describe, but categorizing divorces into "types" can help predict the likely cost range for the divorce; whether utilizing one attorney for most of the work is possible, whether mediation, collaborative law or alternative dispute resolution makes sense, and what the likelihood is the matter will require court appearances.

What follows is based primarily on how a client first presents and perceives his or her situation. Further discussion of each divorce "type" follows the chart.

Divorce TypeLikely cost range*Utilizing a single attorney for most of the workMediation or Collaborative Law candidate**Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) candidate*Court intervention
1. I have been served with divorce papers.MediumUnlikelyUnlikelyPossiblyLikely
2. I am already divorced but the current order needs to be modified or the other party is asking for a modification.LowPossiblyUnlikelyPossiblyLikely
3. We agree on all major issues; we do not want to go to court, we want to minimize costs.LowYesNot necessaryNot necessaryNot necessary
4. We agree on most major issues, disagree on a couple but believe we can ultimately come to an agreement without going to court.LowYesYesPossibly but not necessaryNot necessary
5. We agree on most issues but disagree on some. On those issues we disagree on, we need a third party to decide.MediumUnlikelyPossiblyPossiblyPossibly
6. We disagree on most major issues and it is unlikely we will come to some agreement without going to court.Medium to HighUnlikelyUnlikelyPossiblyLikely
7. There are issues that need to be dealt with immediately, such as the custody or residence of children, support (child or alimony), "kick-out" orders (forcing one party to leave the family residence), dissipation of money or assets, domestic violence, or other issues.Medium to HighUnlikelyUnlikelyUnlikelyMost probably
8. We have complicated property / business valuation / division issues.HighHighly unlikelyPossiblyPossiblyLikely

* Low cost refers to fees totaling less than $3,000, medium refers to fees in the $3,000 - $7,500 range, medium-to-high refers to fees ranging from $7,500 to $15,000, and high refers to fees in excess of $15,000. Note, these are approximations; there are many variables determining how much the fees will total; therefore, actual fees may be higher or lower than estimated.