The costs of divorce basically fall into two categories. The first are filing fees, which are paid to the Monroe County Clerk’s Office or the clerk’s office where the divorce action is filed; they total about $340. After the divorce action is started by filing certain documents with the clerk’s office, the documents must be served on defendant. If defendant or his or her attorney agree to accept service, there’s no process fees. Otherwise, the personal service of the documents costs between $75 and $150.
The biggest cost of the divorce are attorney’s fees. The general rule is that each party pays for their own attorney. The Domestic Relations Law provides that the moneyed spouse – the spouse who makes more money – pays or contributes to the attorney’s fees of the less moneyed spouse. It’s up to the judge to determine whether and how much the moneyed spouse will contribute to the attorney’s fees of the less-moneyed spouse, and generally judges will order the moneyed spouse to contribute some amount the attorney’s fees of the less money spouse.
In addition to the attorney’s fees of the divorcing parties, if custody or visitation are contested before a judge, an attorney for the children (AFC for short) will likely be appointed by the court to represent the children. The cost of the AFC is divided between the parties in proportion to income, though the state may pay for the AFC in lower-income cases.
Other costs of divorce can include the hiring of experts for valuation of real estate, businesses or other assets, accountants for forensic evaluations of financial matters or a custodial evaluator for an evaluation of the parties and children in custody disputes. These can be apportioned between the spouses in the same manner as attorney’s fees.
In a collaborative case, the filing fees and the process costs, including the attorney’s fees and any fees of an allied professional, are to be divided between the parties as they agree. Like any other matter for resolution, payment of the process fees is addressed at the collaborative table, with the attorneys assisting the parties in