“The Most Expensive Divorce”


What would make a divorce “The Most Expensive Divorce”?  Let’s take a look at how this happens.

To start, when we say “The Most Expensive Divorce” means in terms of Attorneys fees cost to the husband and/or wife.  Obviously the highest total cost divorces will be the longer term marriages of the richest in the world that decide it is not working and get divorced.

“The Most Expensive Divorce” is going to be one where there are several different topics to be decided in the divorce and each one very important or worth quite a bit of money to resolve the right way.  These topics would included who and how custody is set for the minor children, how multiple real estate properties owned are divided, how cash saving/checking accounts are divided, how retirement/long term investment accounts are divided, how each spouse will have sufficient money each month for their living expenses and lifestyle expenses, how and which spouse is entitled to Alimony or spousal support to equalize for a period of time the monthly spending for a spouse, how multiple businesses would be divided or value divided, and how any other assets such as boats, vacations, jewelry, vehicles and anything else worth dividing between the spouses.  “The Most Expensive Divorce” would have all of them in multiples.

At times in this type of divorce each spouse has more than one lawyer working on the case.  Usually this is within one law firm, but as you can imagine it can be a lot of work with many details to consider and strategies to develop to target the most important aspects for the client.  Once the most important topics described or aspects of the marriage are identified, then the law team can get to work putting together a plan to get the most of those items, sometimes having to sacrifice some of the other topics or giving them less importance through the divorce.  For instance is custody and time with the children the highest priority, followed by maintaining control of businesses without over burdening cashing out equity?  Or is one spouse already known to be the best to primarily live with the minor children, but concerns about certain properties, businesses, and personal sentimental aspects is the list of priorities.  Either way each topic or aspect of the marriage needs to be considered and fit into the overall plan for the divorce.

The detailed work that makes “The Most Expensive Divorce” actually the most expensive is because many specialists need to be involved to analyze the history of accounts and forecast what the future is expected to bring based on the past and current situation of the spouses.  A key player would be a forensic accounting firm that would do the financial review of where the money comes from and where it goes.  Next would be appraisers for certain higher value personal assets and real estate properties.  Sometimes there are personal issues such as infidelity or poor moral behavior that needs to be investigated by hiring a private investigator.  If minor children are involved this becomes a case in and of itself within the divorce if custody cannot be agreed upon, which of course would be the case for “The Most Expensive Divorce”.  Custody evaluators and possibly counselors would be involved to analyze and establish reports on what parent does what and has what parenting skills and benefits most in the children’s best interest.  Also deciding how and when the parents are with the children as base rules for during the week, holidays, birthdays, and time away from school activities for vacations and one on one time.

Once the whole financial, personal, and children picture is known and identified it becomes a task of the law teams preparing evidence and arguments based off of all the details that have been identified to build a narrative and explanation that supports what the respective clients are looking to accomplish as their priorities in the divorce.  Once the evidence, arguments, narratives, and explanations are prepared then it is taken in front of a mediator to get an idea how someone like a judge would look at the whole situation and divide it up.  This is also where a “private settlement” would come into play that would be private to the rest of the world about the details.  If mediation or multiple mediations did not establish a settlement for the divorce, then the divorce would be headed to the courtroom in front of a judge.  Here there are specific rules as to how the evidence, arguments, narratives, and explanations can be presented in court.  The law teams sets it all up to be presented according to those evidence rules.  The law team would being on a “specialized litigator”, if there wasn’t one already on the team, that only handles trials in the courtroom in front of judges or juries.  In Georgia, the final step to be taken is to take your divorce in front of a jury for the financial and property aspects of a divorce.  The child custody aspect of the divorce can only be decided by a judge and not a jury.  Finally, the judge would hear all evidence, arguments, narratives, and explanations from each spouse’s legal team and decide the custody arrangement for parents.  Then a jury would have a trial and hear all the evidence, arguments, narratives, and explanations about the financial aspects and property aspects and decide with spouse gets what in their verdict.

What would all this cost? Depending on the spouses’ net worth and where they live and adding up the specialists and estimating how much time they had to work on each part and considering the legal team’s time preparing evidence, arguments, narratives, and explanations for mediation, the judge, and the jury trial can put the cost paid to the legal team for each spouse in the hundreds of thousands.  A net worth of $1 million would cost around $50,000 to $75,000 at times in Georgia for “The Most Expensive Divorce”.  A net worth of $2-5 million would cost around $100,000 to $200,000 in Georgia for “The Most Expensive Divorce”.  A net worth of $6-10 million would cost around $300,000 to $500,000 in Georgia for “The Most Expensive Divorce”.  A net worth of over $10 million and more would most likely cap off at around $600,000 to $750,000.  A net worth above $250 million to $1 billion or more are not necessarily going to cost a lot more, but at this net worth range you don’t know what issues there could be to be decided and figured out, so it could have similar fees or cost millions of course.

I hope you found this informative to consider a look into “The Most Expensive Divorce”.  Divorce is expensive because it puts our most priceless possessions like our children out there to divide their time, in addition to dividing up our whole net worth and possessions.  It hits very close to home, including the home itself.

Let us know if we can help you at Mitchell & Crunk with your “The Most Expensive Divorce” or your “The Least Expensive Divorce”.  Or we can talk to you about ways to limit the costs of your divorce.  See this other article we wrote also about saving costs of a divorce, here.

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