Will I be able to afford a divorce? 25 Answers as of June 08, 2011

My spouse and I want to file for a divorce. I am worried that I will not have the money to pay for an attorney and necessary paperwork. How much should I expect this to cost me and is there anything I can to minimize the costs on my end?

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Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C.
Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C. | Karen A. Clark
The cost of a divorce varies depending on a variety of factors. It is possible to handle your divorce yourself or with minimal assistance from an attorney. However, it would be a good idea for you to consult with a lawyer before you decide how to proceed.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/8/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
There is no simple answer to your question because there are so many variables at least as to cost. That said, I can start with a few basics. If you and your spouse agree to all the details - in other words, you both agree the divorce will occur and you have agreed to who gets what property and who pays what bills, who is keeping the house/apartment, etc. Then you have what we call an uncontested divorce. The cost of an uncontested divorce varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction based on court cost - cost are generally in the $300 range, but some counties may charge more or less. Then there is a question of whether or not your spouse will sign a waiver or enter an appearance without service - service is having the Constable deliver the divorce papers - that can cost up to $150 depending on the jurisdiction again. If there are kids, you have to take a class for divorcing parents - that cost $25 per person here in Plano. Certified copies of the decree at the end (if you want them) cost as well (again, it is jurisdiction dependent) and can run between $5/per copy and $1.50/page (decrees can be 10 - 14 pages without kids and typically up to 45 pages with kids). The short version of this is that the court cost alone can range from $300 on the low end up to $500 and this is for a simple case that is agreed - if it is contested (you two decide to fight) the cost can easily top this price with court mandated mediation, social studies, etc. Attorney's fees also vary widely. For example my firm charges a flat fee for uncontested divorces/custody issues. Some firms charge hourly even for uncontested/agreed matters. The time put into the case varies according to the facts, and to be blunt, your desires and goals. To give you an idea - if you and your spouse have no kids and agree to everything (in my definition that means you both come to my office with the fee and 3-4 hours of time to work on the matter - you leave when the papers are signed by everyone except the judge and the only thing left to do is pay the court fees, set the final hearing, prove it up, get copies certified, and file the "Austin Form"). My charge for these services would be $1,150 without kids or $1,500 if there are kids, which is a turn key price in Collin or Dallas county - it covers the filing fee, drafting petition and an Answer (appearance for your spouse), drafting an Agreement incident to divorce which is filed with the court in case either of you change your minds later, completing the Final Decree of Divorce and securing three (3) certified copies - one for each of you and one held in my files - and it covers the cost of coordinating and appearing for the final hearing to prove up the divorce and the Austin Form. There could be additional cost, such as: if there is a house that is not going to be sold and proceeds split - you will need a Special Warranty deed $35 and a Deed of Trust to Secure Assumption $35 If you need Powers of Attorney for Car titles those are $20 each If you need to divide a retirement plan - that requires a Qualified Domestic Relationship Order (I and most attorneys send those out) and the cost is $350 for each account. If there are children and you need custody orders, add $400 for the attorney time to address those issues (which includes Wage withholding orders and medical support orders, setting up the child support account, etc.) Again, this is all assuming current cost and fees as of June 2011 as charged by my firm and that you and your spouse agree to everything or at least work it out in my office. If you are fighting over things, you can assume the attorney fee will be at least triple per side (ie: $3000 each) and depending on what the fight is over, the sky and your desire to fight is the limit. The cost is based on hourly fee multiplied by time invested into your case. While I am certain this did not answer all your questions and may have brought up even more, it does provide you some sort of framework on the cost. As for time that too is up to you. Uncontested, the minimum time is 60 days, beyond that, it is up to you, what you are fighting over, and the court's schedule. You can find a lot of answers to your questions you have not asked here on my website.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 6/7/2011
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
You didn't provide enough information in your question for me to evaluate the issues involved in your divorce. I would recommend that you interview a few experienced Family Law Attorneys on the telephone, and upon hearing about the issues in your case, they may be able to provide you some sort of guidance and estimate of costs.If your husband earns significantly more than you earn, you would likely qualify for an order for your husband to pay a contributive share of your Attorney's Fees. To minimize attorney's fees, try to keep the peace with your husband.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/7/2011
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
You should expect to have to retain an attorney with somewhere between $1,000 and $5,000 depending on what would be involved. The less conflict that exists between you and your future ex would tremendously reduce the cost.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 6/7/2011
Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C.
Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C. | Fredric Harlan Aaron
Unfortunately, there is no set fee for a divorce. The only way to minimize the cost is for you and your spouse to work out all the details beforehand, and agree that the divorce will be filed as uncontested. In this way, you could approach an attorney and retain him/her to represent you jointly, agreeing with the attorney that if the divorce becomes contested, the attorney will remove him/herself from your cause. In this way, you could at least work out a fixed fee arrangement with the attorney for the divorce, minimizing the costs and expenses associated therewith. However, there is no guaranty that your spouse will go along with any of this, or that he/she will decide part way through the process to contest the proceedings.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/7/2011
    441 Legal Group, Inc.
    441 Legal Group, Inc. | Gareth H. Bullock
    If both you and your wife agree on all the issues then the cost should be minimal. Most Courts have a self help center that can assist you.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    There is no way to tell you exactly how much a divorce will cost you since it depends upon how reasonable both parties are about settling the case and how much they have to spend on litigation. I should tell you that if your spouse is the "moneyed' spouse, he or she will be obligated to pay for your counsel fees if you cannot afford them yourself. In the meanwhile, you can get together all your monthly and annual expenses and holdings in order to make it easier for any attorney you hire to handle your case. Also, if you can make copies of any financial information about your spouse now, before the divorce starts, that would be a good idea too. Once you have everything together, that is when you should make an appointment with an attorney to consult with him or her and discuss fees and timing, etc. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Your question can't be answered without a more complete understanding of what may be involved. It is possible to pursue a divorce on your own, but whether that is a good or bad idea again depends on what is involved. Most family law attorneys offer free or low cost initial consultations that will allow them to provide you a more realistic estimate based upon the facts of your case and the likelihood that you and your spouse can easily reach an agreement about everything that needs to be agreed upon. Generally, for an attorney to handle your case the minimum fees for the simplest case will probably be in the range of $1000-$2000.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Berner Law Group, PLLC
    Berner Law Group, PLLC | Jack Berner
    We have a sliding scale. I believe we are one of the only ones in Snohomish County that offer this-if not the only ones. If you reside in Western Washington, feel free to contact my office for a free, no obligation consultation-by phone or in person-about this situation.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Most people cannot afford or do not use an attorney.Get free consultations from several and see if you really need one. One way to minimize costs is do as much work as you can yourself and only use an attorney when you need to - this is called unbundled legal services. Ask the attorneys you see if they think that will work in your situation.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    it depends on the assets, liabilities, income and children. Contested custody cases are the most expensive. You should consult with attorneys in your area to see what terms they will work out with you.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    I would recommend that you call around to talk with different divorce lawyers in your area, because the costs for divorce attorneys can vary quite a bit. For example, in the past, in Augusta, we have handled simple, uncontested divorces for as low as $500, but I have heard that some family lawyers charge several times this amount. Of course, the court costs are generally extra, too, and can run over $200. Also, you might want to check out our divorce law blog for some tips on how to find a good divorce attorney at.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC | Patrick Meriwether
    In most divorce cases, the cost of the divorce is directly related to how much the parties fight over various issues. The best way to save money on attorney's fees is to work out as many issues with your spouse ahead of time. For those issues you are unable to resolve, mediation is a excellent, cost effective alternative to litigation.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    It usually depends upon what is at stake. Divorces with few assets and debts and no children are straight forward. The more things you have to divide up, the more involvement with attorneys and therefore cost. But consult with a local lawyer experienced in domestic relations for further information.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    Represent yourself. Take a clinic at your local courthouse. See if there is a Family Law Facilitator. You can get a free consultation and help filling out forms. Do research on-line. Learn the basics. Seek a free consultation(s) with experienced Family Law Attorneys in your area. I once had an anesthesiologist come in for a free consultation in Temecula. He worked at a local hospital. He brought all of his forms, took detailed notes, and though he earned more than I did (he earned $20,000/month), he did not hire me and filed for himself. He was too cheap to even pay me for the second hour of consultation, though he was clearly aware that he was greatly exceeding the stipulated free consultation period.Oh, well. You can do it without taking advantage of someone's generosity.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    If the divorce is uncontested I would look for a lawyer that will charge a flat fee plus filing fees.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    The cost depends on a lot of things - the attorney's hourly rate, what issued are involved and whether they are contested, where the case must be filed. You would need to talk to an attorney to get an idea of the retainer.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Naomi Hirayasu Attorney at Law
    Naomi Hirayasu Attorney at Law | Naomi Hirayasu
    You can file for divorce yourself. The Family Court has an information desk where you can request assistance and further information.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Komanapalli Massey LLP
    Komanapalli Massey LLP | Mark A. Massey, Esq.
    If you and your wife can agree with regard to division of marital and separate assets and debts, and about child custody, visitation and support issues, and about spousal support issues, then you can easily do the divorce on your own for only the cost of a petition filing fee. If you cannot afford that, you probably qualify for a fee waiver and the whole thing will only cost you gas, time and emotional stress. Attorneys are only required when the parties are at odds and just cannot get the issues resolved without a fight.Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    It is impossible to give a reasonable estimate of costs without the facts of the case. I would be very concerned if any attorney attempts to provide same without speaking directly with you. If you are in my area, please contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    The main thing you can do to minimize the cost is come to agreement on the terms of the divorce. If all you need is an attorney to draft the documents the cost is fairly low - but you would have to check with individual attorneys as to specific cost estimates for their offices. You might also check with your local county bar association to see if there are any resources that could help you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Beresford Booth PLLC
    Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
    Divorces can be "cheap," particularly when the parties are in agreement to most of the issues.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    You can apply to the court for a fee waiver of court costs. If you qualify, then you will not have to pay court costs. If not, the filing fee is the same for everyone. As for attorney fees, shop around for a lawyer who you feel is competent, and also charges a rate you can afford. Not all lawyers charge the same hourly rate. Plus, the rate a lawyer charges does not necessarily indicate their competence level. I.e., there are many expensive lawyers that are less competent than lawyers who charge a lesser hourly rate. Talk to friend and relatives to see if they can provide you with a referral to a competent family law lawyer. Once you hire a lawyer, as for total cost, that depends mostly on the parties. The more the conflict and the more the parties fight, the higher the cost. Here's the formula: more fight = more attorney work = more fees. To minimize cost, you can do certain tasks yourself, as well as research issues on your own, rather than ask your lawyer to explain everything to you. I.e., there are many things about the divorce process that with a little bit of independent research, a client can learn for themselves, and hence save legal fees.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Since you did not give any information - such as whether you have children, where you live, etc there is no way to estimate costs. As a general rule, costs will be quite low if you both agree and far more if you do not.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/3/2011
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