Divorce vs Counselling: A Cost Comparison
Frequency of Divorce1: In May 2004, Statistics Canada, reporting on figures for 2002, stated that:
The figures for stepfamilies are much more stark. For example, Fergusson, Horwood & Lawton (1988), in a major longitudinal study, found that:
The Cost of Divorce1: Canadian Lawyer Magazine, in an article entitled "The Going Rate 2003", reported the results of their annual (2003) survey of Canadian legal fees as follow:
Their Alberta respondents to their survey reported the following average costs:
The highest cost for a contested divorce reported by their Alberta respondents was $150,000. [Yes, $150,000 is correct--and that was in 2003.]
Assuming your divorce: was a) contested, b) involved a separation agreement, and c) included Child Custody and Support issues, in 2003 you would have been looking at about $35,000 in legal costs. The fees involved with the sale of your home, revisions to important documents (e.g., wills, etc.) and so on, are above and beyond this figure. Read on to see how this plays out.
According to a Canadian study conducted by Decima Research 2, divorce is one of the most expensive events that can happen in a person's life. Their respondents reported that because of their divorce:
Divorce may seem like a simple solution, but:
Counselling: Based upon our search of marital therapists on the Web, most work around the assumption that marital counselling will require 20 or fewer (weekly) sessions. In the province of Alberta, where brief and single session therapy has been an intensive focus for counselling professionals for many years, most therapists assume that marital counselling is likely to require six to ten sessions.
Costs of Counselling: The "suggested rate" for marital counselling by a Registered Psychologist in the province of Alberta in 2008 was $170 per hour. [Click here for the current rate for Registered Alberta Psychologists.] Some very skilful marital therapists are available at significantly lower rates. Many employ a "sliding scale" where the fee you pay is determined by your income level. Some (e.g., those employed by government agencies such as Alberta Mental Health Services) provide services without any direct costs to you. In addition, these days, the cost of counselling is often covered in full, or in part, by an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) or an Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP) that is provided through the employer; or as a feature of an extended health care plan (such as Blue Cross).
In summary, the cost of marital counselling by a skilled professional will range from $0.00 to about $3,500.
Cost of Courses: Building Stepfamilies That Work is a course for stepfamily couples that has been provided by the Stepfamily Foundation of Alberta since 1998. Over 95% of all couples who have taken Building Stepfamilies That Work since it has been offered remain together today as a couple. The vast majority of these couples would encourage you to take the course to learn what you need to know to succeed in your relationship as a couple, and to succeed as a stepfamily. The cost is $1,500 for the couple. This fee may be covered in full or in part by your EAP, EFAP or extended health care plan. A home-study version of the course will soon be available for a significantly reduced cost.
Think about what you really want to accomplish. If you are intent on failing, the statistics above indicate that you probably won't need much help.
If, however, your goal is to succeed, success is virtually guaranteed if:
a) you learn what you need to learn about stepfamilies, and
b) you put what you learn into action.
It's that simple--and a lot cheaper.
1. Miller, Marla S. The High Cost of Divorce.
2. Ross Cravit, Cynthia Marriage builds wealth, while divorce is as hard on the pocketbook as it is on the heart.
3. Fergusson, D.M., Horwood, L.J., & Lawton, J.M. (1988). The influence of family order and selection factors on the stability of first and second families. Christchurch Child Development Study, Christchurch School of Medicine, Christchurch, New Zealand.
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Stepfamily Foundation of Alberta