The ideal situation for most people would be that they are flanked by an attorney when going through a divorce. But the question that most people ask is how much it costs to hire a divorce lawyer. You may have called a few attorneys and even checked out a couple of websites but you still wonder if you are being charged a little too much. Here is a guide on how much hiring a divorce attorney costs.
Most attorneys bill by the hour. And according to nolo.com, the national average hourly fee charged by divorce lawyers is $250. This is of course just the average, and it is not uncommon to find those charging from as little as $50 per hour to even more than $400. However, $250 is the most likely fee to be charged. For this amount, you can get full representation in which the attorney handles every aspect of the case, partial representation where the lawyer only manages to a few aspects like child custody or alimony, or consultation only. So it is important to know beforehand what you will be getting for the hourly fee you are charged.
So, what is the average total cost of hiring a divorce attorney?
The hourly rate may not make a lot of sense because you do not even know how long your case may take. Another thing to note is that the total fee will include court costs, the lawyer’s charges, and other expenses such as hiring a tax advisor, real estate appraiser, or child custody evaluator, etc. The cost can easily jump to $15,000 or more, which includes attorney’s fees.
Factors Affecting Divorce Lawyer’s Fees
When you settle the matter out of court, you are likely to pay less than when a matter proceeds to trial. The more issues that go to trial, the more costly the fees will be. Prepare to pay up to $20,000 if issues such as alimony, child custody or estates reach trial. For cases that reach a settlement, you can pay up to $15,000 if you manage to settle all your issues out of court.
Other factors include:
- Whether the divorce is contested or uncontested
- Child custody
- The retainer fee versus the hourly rate charged by lawyers
- The lawyer or law firm you choose to represent you
- Where you are filing the case and the local filing charges
- Child custody evaluation
It is never simple or easy to end a marriage, but one of the most significant considerations apart from the societal and emotional factors is the cost. There are cases where legal fees will be the greatest expense in a divorce. As happens with most things, planning ahead can help you manage the situation.
But one thing you need to know is that these fees are often negotiable. Talk to your lawyer and see if they can reduce it for you. Also, if you do not have an acrimonious divorce, always try to thrash details with your partner to avoid going to trial. This will save you a bunch of bills.