How much does Divorce Cost in New Brunswick? 

How much does Divorce Cost in New Brunswick? 

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The one question that every client asks at some point on the first meeting is: What is this going to cost me? How much will I have to pay for separating? As much as I would like to give a firm number, the problem is that lawyers cannot give a firm answer, except in special circumstances. Why? Because there are too many unknown factors. 

Factors affecting divorce lawyer’s price

The lawyer does not control these factors affecting your costs, he works with them and can do his best to keep them down. Unforeseen events or new information can affect the cost. The difficulty in saying at the start how much you will pay is that you can’t be sure what factors will are in play and how much they will influence the whole process in advance; you only learn about them as the dispute develops. The lawyer works with the cards dealt but doesn’t know what’s in the deck until well into the conflict as facts come to light.

What Factors can influence price?

Multiple factors influence the dispute:

  • How do the parties deal with each other, can they talk to each other;
  • Even if they are not amicable, are they dealing on equal footing or is one more disadvantaged than the other;
  • Is this a case where there’s been a history of violence, abuse, power imbalances and control issues;
  • Is there a high level of trust so they able to negotiate in good faith with each or is there going to be a problem to giving or get the full disclosure;
  • How complicated is the property and debts;
  • Who are the lawyers, are they inclined to look for solutions to end the dispute or do they aggravate the problem;
  • Do you have to go to court to deal with each issue or can you use another process such as mediation, collaborative law or the old-style back and forth negotiation?

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These are only some of the factors in play that affect the cost. While some of these are outside the client’s control, the client is still not helpless is dealing with them. They have much more control over the process and so the cost than they realize. Why? Because the client decides on the legal process and how it’s managed. In choosing the process and how it’s managed the client can consider the factors at play. So if the cost or legal fees cannot be fixed at least they can be controlled. 

If you are concerned about cost, which I admit is a major worry for anyone except, maybe, the very rich class of client (not mine), then once you decide on separating you need to investigate the different legal processes available to resolve your breakup. There are several options available besides going to court, each option with different cost ranges from the less expensive to the more.

Before you choose what option works for you, you need to understand what is involved in each process.


The Different Legal Processes and their Costs

Broadly put, you can choose between:

  • Mediation;
  • The collaborative process; 
  • Traditional negotiation, each party with a lawyer; or
  • Court.

Costs range from lower to high. Roughly, the least expensive is probably mediation; somewhat higher is the collaborative process and by far the most expensive is going to court. Traditional negotiation will depend on the lawyer’s hourly rate, the time involved in back and forth negotiation and the degree the parties and their lawyers have an appetite to settle. 

The difference between the traditional process and mediation or the collaborative process is that, in mediation and collaborative processes, the parties come to it predisposed for discussions and with facilitators trained to lead them to a resolution. The focus is on solutions whereas in the traditional process, the focus is still very much on each side trying to negotiate the most favorable deal for themselves with lawyers mainly in control for achieving that goal. Even if years later, after using up resources on lawyers’ fees and process costs, a final deal is reached, far different from what they wanted to begin with, at no time during those first negotiations were the sides pushed to consider alternatives and different outcomes, despite those outcomes not looking like what they want. 

Think of fees and costs as moving on a range: 

Cheapest Middle most expensive

Mediation   Collaborative Court/litigation

What is the cost for Mediation? 

If you go the mediation route, you can avoid high legal costs but don’t think you can eliminate them entirely. Generally, the mediator’s fees are split in some proportion between the parties. But you will need to consult with a lawyer at least before you start a mediation to inform yourself about you rights and obligations, so you are informed. Additionally, during the mediation legal issues come up for which you need personal advice on. The mediator does not advise parties.

divorce lawyer cost

The second time you will need a lawyer is at the end of the mediation, assuming you’ve reached an agreement. You will need a lawyer to prepare the agreement unless the mediator is a lawyer and can prepare a draft agreement. If the mediator prepared the agreement you will go to a lawyer to review it and give advice before you sign.

In mediation, you only for what you need. So, the cost will depend on the hourly rates of the mediator and lawyer. The cost is reasonable, but not nil.

But you should be aware in deciding on mediation, you need to choose the mediator carefully. Sometimes, what looks like the cheapest solution turns into the most expensive.  

What can the Collaborative Process Cost?

If you go the collaborative route, the cost is potentially higher than mediation because you hire a lawyer for representing you throughout the process. But because the process is for the purpose of avoiding court entirely, the lawyers are only hired to manage the collaborative negotiations, they are prohibited from representing you in court if it doesn’t settle.

So, what’s the difference from a traditional process. In the collaborative process, the lawyers are focused solely on finding solutions. They are not increasing fees with letters back and forth, they are not consulting on procedural strategies; they are not trying to squeak out some advantage for their clients; they are not spending any time on procedural games; they deal with the substantive issues from the start and look for ways to finding a solution. From the beginning, energies are directed on children and preserving healthy communications in the hope the parties will be able to conduct their own affairs long after they’ve signed the agreement and the lawyer are out of their lives.

What kind of fees can you expect in the collaborative process cost? 

This is hard to say. For a simple collaborative process, you might be able to do it for a fixed fee. For more complex cases, the cost will depend on the time. But for preparing financial disclosures and negotiating parenting arrangements the costs are comparable or less than in mediation. But far less than in litigation. Rough price ranges can be given, but only on a case by case basis. You will have to discuss this with a lawyer trained in and competent for acting in the collaborative process.


Fixed cost option

Some lawyers have started providing collaborative services for a block fee. This is a fixed costs from beginning to end, the signed final agreement. But not all cases will be suited to the block fee service. This will depend on the complexity of the issues and the parties ability to deal with each other. Before it is determined your case is suited to a fixed fee service, there needs to be an in-take interview by the lawyers and a determination if the file is suited. 

Tips to save money

  • Choose your lawyer carefully. The lawyer’s hourly rate is not the only consideration but how the lawyer approaches the file. Is the lawyer focused on settlement. 
  • Investigate the alternative processes; is your case suited to the alternatives for a court-based process? Make sure you are using a process that will end the dispute, not prolong it. Can you and your partner discuss the problems or is there little or no ability to communicate. Difficulty to communicate does not necessarily mean you are not suited to a lower cost process. In that case, the lawyer’s ability to manage is an important consideration. 
  • Do as much of the work yourself as you can: collect the financial documents as early as possible into the process. The preparation of the financial documents is a difficult and potentially costly stage. The more you collect and organize from the beginning will help to keep the costs down. Find out what you will need to produce and put it together so you can give it when asked.
  • Do not use the lawyer for counselling. Lawyers are not trained to give therapy or for counselling. Calling your lawyer to blow off sOUR TEAM is expensive. A divorce is a traumatic event so it’s not unexpected you will need emotional support or counselling to deal with the emotional ups and downs and stress from time to time. Some people deal better with it than others. If you need counselling to assist you through the process, seek help from people professionally trained for giving it. Keeping a cool head for making decisions is critical. The lawyer can only give options and advice, not decide what’s best for you. Only you know what’s best for you; you decide. 
  • Can you see the difference between the substance and using the process for ulterior purposes. The legal process is about rights and obligations; it’s not about punishing the other side. Are you clear about what you are doing and what you want to achieve? Using the process, any process, for purposes other than for negotiating substantive issues, whatever they are, whether parenting, child support, spousal support, equalization or other possible legal issues, can easily derail the separation and increase costs dramatically.

Summary of Prices  

In the final analysis, whether your divorce will be in the $5,000 to $20,000 or higher will depend on several factors. Where you fall in this range is difficult to say and it’s doubtful any lawyer can say for certain. But if you want to keep the cost at the lower end, you will need to do preliminary research and understand what you can control and what is beyond your control. As long as you are aware of the difference and keep the problem within reason to those things you can control, the final cost will be likely in reason and you’ll avoid one of those horror stories that all too frequently happen. 

If you are interested in getting more information for your case, please contact me to discuss the legal processes available and the potential costs you can expect.


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