How Much Does It Usually Cost to Hire a Divorce Lawyer?
No one plans to get divorced. But almost 50 percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. If you are among these, there are a lot of issues to consider, including how much a divorce lawyer will cost you.
There are many factors that impact the cost of divorce proceedings. Fortunately, once you know what these are, you can have an idea of what to expect. The information below will help you understand these variables so that you can plan accordingly.
How Attorneys Charge
The average cost for a divorce attorney is around $250 an hour, but this reflects a very wide range of rates, from about $100 an hour to more than $400 per hour. The level of legal representation you need will depend on the number of assets you and your spouse are dividing. Note that things like filing fees and other costs will be charged in addition to the hourly rate.
Most divorce attorneys charge an hourly rate, but you may find some that charge a flat fee. These are typically for uncontested divorces. And, with flat fees, you may have to pay more if unforeseen circumstances arise.
Finally, some attorneys require a retainer to secure their services. This is money paid upfront that is placed in a trust account. It reflects how much the lawyer expects the divorce to cost.
Like hourly rates, retainers will vary by an attorney, but you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000 in most cases. Retainers are less common than hourly rates but could be advantageous for some divorce circumstances. For instance, once you pay the fee, you are entitled to immediate legal guidance from the attorney.
What Variables Impact Cost
Whether your divorce is contested is the main factor that will determine costs. This corresponds to how much time your attorney will have to spend in court and preparing for it.
You also will be dividing up assets, remaining debts, and determining alimony. An uncontested divorce is where the parties have already worked out all these details. These are much less time consuming, and therefore less expensive.
Whether you have children will almost certainly impact the total cost of a divorce lawyer. Things like custody and child support will need to be sorted out and approved by a judge.
Note that, even if you and your spouse have not agreed on everything, there are alternatives to lengthy trials. These include mediation or “collaborative divorce,” which allow parties to negotiate outcomes without going to court. And many lawyers charge cheaper rates or base fees for these proceedings since it is far less costly than settling things in court.
Where you live can determine how much a divorce will cost you. Different places have different filing fee, which can range from $85 to more than $400, depending on the state and jurisdiction.
Some attorneys charge a base fee or their usual hourly rate for initial consultations. But you may want to look around for ones that waive these fees. This way, there is no risk in meeting with them to decide whether they are the right professional to handle your divorce.
There are several things you will want to do if you are heading into a divorce, including planning a budget. There are many online tools, like this checklist, to help you know what to expect. Divorce is not a pleasant experience, but the best thing you can do is to prepare for what is ahead.
Find a Divorce Lawyer
Now that you have an idea of the factors that will impact the cost of a divorce lawyer, you can plan accordingly. Having the right budget set up for this difficult personal experience can help make things run more smoothly, for you and everyone involved.
We hope this information gives you the tools to hire a divorce lawyer that will meet your needs. Be sure to check out some of our other posts on legal issues, including topics involving civil, criminal, immigration, and cyber law.