Typically divorce attorneys charge by the hour, since every divorce case is different and there isn’t a one-size-fits-most package deal or bundle of services. If the couple agrees on everything already, they could avoid using an attorney altogether. This is called an uncontested divorce. However, if any issue is contested by one spouse and the couple can’t find a resolution, they will each need to hire attorneys and may need to go to trial to settle the issue.
Hourly rates for divorce attorneys usually range from $200-300, and the number of hours your divorce requires depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to:
- How should they be divided?
- Do these involve a sale or several sales?
- Consider assets that have not reached maturity or that are retirement funds, like investments, bonds, CDs, IRAs, and 401ks
- How should they be divided?
- Understanding legal issues related to debts, how and if they can be divided, and who is responsible
- How should it be divided?
- Evaluating the cost of selling, getting appraisals, etc.
- Does this involve a sale or several sales?
If Children Are Involved:
- Who has custody? Full or partial? Physical and legal? Etc.
- For what percentage of time?
- Who gets to file the children as dependants on taxes?
- Whose insurance will the kids be on?
- These decisions must all be determined and agreed upon by both parties or decided in court. These decisions then affect what a parent will own in child support payments, so even as some aspects are figured out, they may have to be circled back to as other aspects are calculated and negotiated.
Rewriting Legal Documents, such as wills, medical power of attorney, etc.
How Much Will the Total Likely Cost?
Since it does depend on each unique situation, it’s hard to ballpark, since even when the data of a divorce is similar to another, the human factors could be entirely different. On average, it costs an individual $7,000 in attorney fees from beginning to end, but that is just taking into account one of the two spouse’s attorney fees. If going to trial is involved as well, the average shoots up to $11,500 for debating one to two issues, and that average rises to $21,500 for debating three or more issues.
Is there a Cheaper Way?
The good news is that there are ways to make a divorce much more affordable, but they require both parties to be in full agreement in order to bypass needing an attorney. Couples who pursue uncontested divorce spend an average of $300 to legally complete their divorce. They often use templates (many low cost or even free ones can be found online) to write up their agreements and then just have to pay for the filing fee. Be certain, however, especially when children are involved, that you’ve done your research and are meeting the required minimal stipulations required for arrangements such as custody and child support. You can use state websites to run calculations for these numbers and minimal requirements.
If you do choose to go this route, know that it’s becoming more common for some lawyers to offer “a la carte” options for Legal practice area services, such as reviewing your final draft of documents or handling a specific portion, such as consulting on the division of the retirement fund or tax implications. Narrowing down your selection of divorce attorney services can lower the average cost for these types of divorces to around $3,000-4,000.