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The Cost of Divorce in Canada

Aug 09, 2018

The “elephant in the room” of divorce is the cost. Specifically, legal costs. Want to learn what lawyers and arbitrators charge in Canada? Keep reading.

I’ve looked at the results from two different surveys of lawyers regarding what they charge clients.

Both were published in 2017.  From these, I learned that if you and your spouse fight about everything and go to trial, likely each of you will spend more than $53,000 in legal fees. This does not include taxes or the out of pocket costs that lawyers charge their clients. So you’re looking at a $60,000 if you fight about everything and talk through lawyers.

One of the surveys I looked at shared that a lawyer billed a client $625,000 in a high conflict dispute. These high bills are part of the reality of fighting in court.

Here is a summary of the results from the survey completed by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family.

The other survey was conducted on behalf of Canadian Lawyer Magazine. Its data is harder to read, because it reads like a menu of a la carte options. For example, it has an item for a separation agreement, but then lists separate amounts for child support and division of property. 

From the vantage point of my education and experience, I read the data and saw that on average a person in Canada who wants to get divorced and spend as little as possible will be charged about $5,000 in legal fees.  To arrive at this amount, I added the average amount charged for a separation agreement and to obtain a divorce.

This survey did not share the number of months it takes to resolve the issues.

That’s it for my snapshot of the surveys. I’m also sharing my take-aways from this post:

  • Litigation (fighting in court) takes the longest and is the most expensive

  • Mediation and collaborative law – even in high conflict disputes – cost about 50% of litigation, and are resolved in half the time

  • In arbitration, the dispute is resolved in half the time it takes to go to trial, but it costs almost as much as litigation

The good news is, there are other ways, ways that cost a lot less so you can avoid wondering how you’re going to pay for this. It starts with thinking about peace for your family.

Choose Peace.

Sign up now for Kim's free "Divorce Script" and plan how to tell your spouse you want a divorce. 

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