If you’re like a lot of people facing the end of your marriage, you’re probably concerned about what lies ahead. One of those concerns is the cost of getting divorced.
The final cost of your divorce is going to depend mainly on your family’s unique situation—in addition to some important decisions you make. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to anticipate how much you are going to end up paying without knowing all the details.
It is possible to provide a simple picture of typical costs under common situations, in addition to the aspects that can increase or decrease those costs.
How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost?
On average, the complete cost of a thorough divorce lawyer was around $11,300. But fees increased when there were more challenged issues to resolve at trial. When looking into hiring a divorce attorney, the first cost you are going to most likely encounter is the lawyer’s hourly fee. In a national survey people who reported the cost of their own divorce, on average the rate they paid their attorney was around $270 each hour. In separate studies of hourly fees charged by family attorneys around the US, they showed that general rates vary from around $200 to over $300 each hour—and even more for a knowledgeable family law attorney in larger cities.
But the final cost is what really is at issue. The hours your lawyer is going to require spending on your divorce depends on a multitude of factors—especially how complex your case is and your willingness to come to a settlement with your spouse on the issues at hand.
The Cost of Full-Scope Lawyers
As reported, most people that hired divorce lawyers had them oversee their entire divorce case—what is referred to as “full-scope” representation. Those people paid around $11,300 in entire attorneys’ fees (not including what their spouses paid for their lawyers). The average cost was $7,000 (half of them paid more and half paid less).
Outside of Attorneys’ Fees: Other Divorce Costs
With or without an attorney, you are going to have to pay some primary court fees, and you might have additional costs for mediation. But since people that hire lawyers are more likely to have complicated cases, they are also more likely to have other costs, like:
- real estate valuations (for example, if one spouse wishes to keep the family home)
- tax professionals (for advice on the tax consequences of agreements on matters such as division of property and spousal maintenance)
- Qualified domestic relations order professionals (for preparing orders for division of retirement accounts)
- child custody evaluators
- vocational evaluations (usually required when there’s a petition for alimony), and
- forensic accountants (to locate assets that a spouse could be concealing).
Case convolutedness is most likely why surveys showed that people with full-scope lawyers paid more for these types of expenses (around of $1,880) than people that managed their own divorce case (around $1,170).
How Much Does a DIY Divorce Cost?
In surveys conducted, people that hired full-scope lawyers had average divorce expenses that were ten times more expensive than that of DIY divorce case—but they also were more likely to have complicated cases and disputes. When a do it yourself divorce is the appropriate choice for your circumstances, it’s obvious that it is going to cost a lot less than hiring a full-scope lawyer. Typically, the people in surveys conducted that managed their own divorce paid a total of $1,170 in expenses. The more general cost—the average amount—was just $300. That’s most likely since about half of those that did not hire a lawyer had no challenged issues in their divorce case.
When you manage an uncontested divorce by yourself, your primary expense is probably going to be the court’s filing fees for the divorce petition or reply. These fees differ by state—and possibly from county to county in some states—ranging from around $100 to $400+. (You can typically apply for a waiver of the fee if you are unable to pay it.) You may additionally have to pay other, smaller fees for:
- hiring a process server to serve your spouse with your petition
- filing other documentation in your case, and
- obtaining a certified copy of your divorce decree.
In some states, you can file a joint petition with your spouse for an uncontested divorce—meaning you could split the fee to file. Particular states also offer special, simplified procedures for an uncontested divorce, but they often have strict requirements.
Mediation or Collaborative Divorce
When you and your spouse are able to work out your disagreements on the matters in your divorce through mediation or collaborative divorce, you are going to save the considerable cost of going to trial. The cost of divorce mediation on its own can vary significantly, subject to whether it’s with a privatized mediator or using the court or a non-profit agency, in addition to the number of matters you are going to need to work out. Nevertheless, mediation is going to unquestionably be less costly than collaborative divorce (in which involves paying two lawyers instead splitting the cost for one mediator). That’s true even when you hire a privatized mediator, and even when you consult with a lawyer throughout the mediation process.
Using a Consulting Attorney
If you’re assured that you are able to manage the divorce without a full-scope lawyer (or you just are unable to afford that choice), you might be able to save on lawyer’s costs by using what’s typically called an “unbundled” legal service or “limited-scope representation”—paying an attorney to manage only certain duties or to provide advice on particular questions.
In the past, divorce lawyers were not very excited on this kind arrangement, but it’s becoming more common nowadays. For example, you might hire a lawyer to assist you in preparing for mediation, guide you throughout negotiations, or create formal settlement documentation. It’s usually a good idea to have an attorney go over a settlement agreement you’ve created to be sure it’s reasonable and covers everything that is required to be dealt with.
Obviously, the cost is going to vary widely, subject to how many hours of the lawyer’s services you require. In surveys conducted the small percentage of people (10%) that consulted a lawyer or used an unbundled legal service in their divorce paid around $4,600 in attorneys’ fees; the more-common, average amount was $3,000.
E.A. Gjelten, L. E. (2022, January 26). How much does a divorce cost? www.divorcenet.com. Retrieved April 15, 2022, from https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost.html
Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer in Arizona
Regardless of the choice you make, it’s important you make the best choice for you when hiring a divorce attorney. Remember: The decisions you make now can affect your future. Ultimately, choosing the best lawyer will depend on which lawyer feels best for you and your situation.