What is the expense that comes with divorce? 1 Answers as of April 08, 2011

I want a divorce, but my husband does not. I have 2 teens at home, and have been married 17 years. I have no idea how to go about doing this, where to start and how much it is going to cost?

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Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
Cost is always an important question for a client looking to get a divorce. Unfortunately, there is no way to give you a solid answer. The cost will depend on so many factors that are as yet unknown that any lawyer that gives you a cost is either just guessing or offering a "fixed cost" also known as a Flat Fee. The problem with Flat Fees is that the lawyer has to make a choice, set the fee high enough that he or she is covered if the case goes awry, or figure out how to make the case stay within budget.

What I can tell you is the basics. There is a filing fee (usually $270-300). The filing fee is paid to the court. Other cost you may expect, again this depends on the case include: Issuance of Citation and Issuance of Notice if required, the Court cost for these items is generally about $10 each; service of process varies depending on location plan $75-100 if it is required; as your case proceeds, you may find a need for a private investigator and that cost is very difficult to calculate and depends on what is needed (surveillance, skip tracing, asset searches, etc.); the Court may require social studies, DNA testing, Home studies, and in extreme cases, appointment of an attorney ad litem for the children - again these cost vary and are not in every case, but this is cost that could pop up depending on the circumstances of the parties. All of the cost quoted above are just court cost, no attorney's fees, no copy charges, no consideration for closing documents, etc. Closing documents would be things like the Austin Form, Withholding Orders, Medical Support Orders, Deeds of Trust to Secure Assumption on real property, or Special Warranty Deeds for the house, and Power of Attorney for transferring vehicles, not to mention a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) for each 401K, SEP Plan or Defined Retirement plan (QDROs cost $400 each at my firm, we send them out to a firm in Houston with a lot of experience in preparing them - $400 each is our cost). Finally, the "cost" quoted above does not include any attorney's fees for doing the work, this is just a list of things that you will or may have to pay to the Court or third parties.

Attorney's fees will vary according to the Attorney/Firm billing rate and the amount of time required to complete you case. In a simple case with kids, plan at least 3 hours for drafting pleadings and a proposed decree. Assuming your spouse simply signs the proposed decree with no questions or concerns, there is another hour of drafting basic closing documents (this number can easily triple if there are assets to deal with) and an hour to prepare the final Orders and present the prove-up to the Judge. Minimum attorney time is 5 hours, up to 10 hours and this is for a simple case. Add in any hurt feelings, issues that you or your spouse want to fight over, another attorney, temporary orders, or custody issues and the limit is how long each of you can hold out for the fight. All is not as bad as this answer may make it seem. Please note, I am trying to answer the question you asked. Look at the questions I have already answered regarding Contested vs. Uncontested divorce. If you have the makings for an uncontested divorce, the cost is substantially cut - it is the "simple divorce" I am talking about above and many attorneys will handle those on a fixed/flat cost. In fact, my firm even does them at a discounted rate, since the work is mostly "busy work and drafting" that can be accomplished at my leisure or when I am stuck at the courthouse "waiting" for a case to be called. It provides me something to do so my time is not altogether spent twiddling my thumbs. After you have looked at the other information, or if you want to just skip that step, call me. I will be happy to discuss your facts with you and give you a better idea what to expect if you live in Collin or Dallas County - this is where I practice and know the flow of the courts, how long Judges will allow for matters, etc.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 4/8/2011
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