When a couple divorces, one of the assets often divided and awarded by the court is a portion of the parties’ retirement plans. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, commonly called a QDRO, is an order signed by the court that deals with pension funds. The QDRO establishes your soon to be ex’s legal entitlement to receive a designated amount of a qualified plan account or benefits. The party who is awarded a portion of retirement benefits will subsequently be responsible for paying related income taxes and fees associated with withdrawing the benefits.
How much should I expect to spend on a divorce?
Unfortunately there is no cut and dry answer to this question. It depends on three main factors:
- What is your attorney’s hourly rate? – An attorney with an hourly rate of $175 per hour will clearly result with lower attorney’s fees than an attorney who charges $475 per hour. Keep in mind that an attorney’s hourly rate is often reflective of their experience and skill level so it may be in your best interest to choose an experienced attorney at the cost of having higher attorney’s fees.
- How litigious is your case? – if your divorce requires multiple hearings, mediation, depositions, discovery and final trial you are looking at a divorce costing thousands of dollars. The more time an attorney spends in court the more your end bill will be.
- Contested or uncontested? If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement on all issues, including children and property, you may be able to have an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce requires minimal litigation, very low cost due to the lack of discovery process and a quicker turnaround time, all of which result in lower fees.
Other factors include the use of expert witnesses, how much you communicate with your attorney and other expenses such as ordering copies transcripts of hearings or service fees. It is truly impossible to tell a client upfront how much a divorce will cost so it’s important to find an attorney who is willing to keep you apprised of your current invoice as well as be willing to assist in cost-cutting measures, such as agreeing to go to mediation in lieu of a full trial.