Family Law: How Much does a Divorce Cost?

How much does a Divorce cost?

Aside from the emotional cost of going through divorce, many people are concerned about how much it costs to part ways with their former spouse. Spending a lot of money on getting divorced is a daunting thought, especially in addition to all the emotional turmoil and changes that are often caused by a break-up. People facing divorce often want to know how much they need to expect to spend. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to predict how much a divorce will cost because every case is different, but there are some ways to control the costs of a divorce.

Can I Go to Court Without an Attorney?

You are not required to have an attorney represent you if you want to get divorced. Many couples submit the divorce paperwork themselves. However, doing so can be stressful and you might not know how to do it. Many courthouses have self-help centers who will provide general information about the forms you need to fill out, but they cannot give you advice on your case or do any of the work for you.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Attorney?

When you decide to hire an attorney to help you with your divorce make sure you understand how the attorney charges and what will be covered. The advantage of having an attorney is that you have a professional help you who will know how to advocate on your behalf, navigate the court system and deal with your ex-spouse or another attorney. Having an attorney do the work for you can significantly reduce your stress and can help you get a better outcome. There are several different models:

Flat Fees: Some attorneys charge flat fees for divorces, which often happens in cases where the spouses agree on the terms of their divorce. If your lawyer offers you a flat fee, you should carefully review what services are covered.

Hourly Billing: The most common model for divorce attorneys is to charge an hourly fee for their work. It is also typically the most expensive model. Carefully read the contract you sign with your lawyer so you understand what you are being billed for and at what rate.

Legal Plans: some employers offer legal plans to their employees at a fixed monthly cost. If you know you will be going through a divorce the monthly fee might be well worth it because you will have an attorney help you through the process. You are typically limited to attorneys covered by the plan. You should make sure that the lawyer you hire is a good fit

Free Legal Services: If your income is below a certain level, you might be able to find an attorney to help you for free, especially if you have been a victim of domestic violence. Check with your Local Bar Association to find out if free services exist and whether you qualify. Lawyers who represent clients without charge are often called "Pro Bono" lawyers.

Which Attorney is Right for Me?

If you decide to hire an attorney, it is important to find someone who is competent and helps you define and achieve your goals. Many attorneys offer a free half-hour consultation, which is a good way to find out whether that person it worth the money. Don't be shy about asking questions about the attorney's experience. If you don't understand what your lawyer is telling you, ask him or her to explain it to you in plain English.

Finally, aside from the cost of hiring a lawyer, you have to plan for some other costs:

Court Filing Fees:

Courts charge a fee for divorces; the amount varies from place to place. If your income falls below a certain threshold, your court fees might be waived.

Service Fees and Other Costs:

There may be other costs in your case. You may need to hire a server to deliver the court papers to your former spouse. The court might order outside experts to provide an opinion, for which they charge a fee. Or you might decide that you and your spouse might benefit from hiring a mediator.

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