How much does a divorce cost in Ontario?

Divorce cost
As a divorce lawyer I am regularly asked what the cost of a divorce will be. The answer to this question depends on multiple factors. It is important to consider that the true ‘cost’ of a divorce is not just measured in financial terms. When parties divorce there are emotional consequences, relationships are affected, significant time is taken up, and of course, there are short-term and long-term financial consequences.

Financial Cost of a Divorce

Depending on the issues in a divorce the cost of a divorce can vary from $1,500 to over $20,000. Why such a big range? It all comes down what issues clients need a lawyer to help them with, the method used to resolve disputes, the time it takes to resolve disputes, the parties’ attitude to negotiations and the hourly rate of the divorce lawyer.

Obviously, the cost of a divorce is influenced by the lawyer’s hourly rate. The average hourly rate for a lawyer in Ontario practicing 6 to 10 years was $327.50 per hour according to the Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s 2018 Legal Fees Survey. This is an average. It is quite common for lawyers at large firms to have hourly rates of $400 per hour and more. However, an hourly rate of approximately $327.50 is fairly common of the prevailing rates across Ontario for divorce lawyers practicing 6 to 10 years.

The average lawyer’s fees according to Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s 2018 Legal Fees Survey for various divorce related services is set out below:

  • Uncontested divorce: $1,500
  • Contested divorce: $7,500 to $12,500
  • Separation agreement: $1,500 to $2,000
  • Child custody and support agreement: $1,500 to $2,000
  • Trial up to two days: $12,000
  • Trial up to five days: $23,000
  • Marriage/co-habitation agreement: $1,400 to $1,700
  • Spousal support agreement: $800 to $1,600
  • Division of property/assets agreements: $1,300 to $1,800

In addition to the legal fees of a divorce, the following are some common short-term and long-term financial costs associated with a divorce:

  • Drop in living standard
  • Child support payments
  • Spousal support payments
  • Tax implications

How to Reduce the Cost of a Divorce

There are multiple ways to reduce the cost of a divorce. Let’s take a look at four ways to reduce the cost of a divorce.

1. Marriage Contract

A marriage contract (also known as a prenuptial agreement) is likely one of the smartest ways to protect yourself from the fallout of a divorce and save yourself thousands of legal fees in the future. A marriage contract allows parties to confirm their agreement on matters relating to property and spousal support in the event of a marriage breakdown. While children issues cannot be addressed in this type of contract, it still helps reduce the time and cost spent in arguing over property and spousal support issues in the event of a marriage breakdown.

Obviously, a this type of contract can only be done before separation. However, this one takes number one on this list due to how effective this can be in reducing the cost of a divorce.

2. Being Amicable and Compromising

While this may be common sense, unfortunately many parties forget about the importance of being amicable and the long-term benefits of compromising during a divorce. Being hostile and ego-driven during a divorce will only prolong your divorce proceedings and increase your financial cost. It is important to do a cost versus benefit analysis on terms to remain practical and flexible during your divorce negotiations.

3. Negotiate and Avoid Litigation

Avoid litigation unless absolutely necessary. By taking this approach parties can save tens of thousands of dollars. Most divorce cases are resolved through negotiations and for good reason. The cost of a divorce which is resolved through negotiations will usually be at a fraction of a cost of what parties would spend in court fighting.

4. Negotiating the Lawyer’s Rate

It is important to note that not all divorce services are billed on an hourly rate billing basis. In addition to hourly rate billing, there is the flat fee billing method which is usually adopted for more simple or uncontested divorce services. Clients should always try to see if flat fee billings options are available. The benefit of such a billing practice is that the client will have certainty in billing and this will remove some of the stress associated with dealing with the financial cost of their divorce.

For more information about obtaining a divorce or about obtaining family legal services in Ontario, please contact our Toronto divorce lawyer here.

NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: The material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult with a family lawyer

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Helpful Resources:

Divorce and Separation
Family Justice Services
Child Custody and Access
Spousal Support
Child Support
Division or Equalization of Family Property
Treatment of a Matrimonial Home
Enforcement of Support Payments
Child Protection
Child Adoption