Filing for divorce can be as financially draining as it is emotionally taxing on both your personal life and the lives of each of your family members. This is true regardless of whether you file for divorce on your own or hire a divorce lawyer to assist you in getting a divorce.
As of 2021, the average cost of a divorce lawyer is approximately $250 per hour. This baseline rate will increase as you account for other factors. Such factors include: whether you are filing for a contested or uncontested divorce, the jurisdiction in which you are filing for divorce, and the experience or reputation of the divorce lawyer whom you decide to hire (if any).
Despite these additional expenses, this does not necessarily mean that every divorce lawyer costs an exorbitant amount. In fact, there are many divorce lawyers who bill at lower hourly rates and who may be willing to negotiate a flat fee if the issues in your divorce case are simple and straightforward.
For example, if you and your spouse are willing to cooperate with one another, but would still like to retain separate counsel for legal advice on specific issues, you should consider hiring low cost divorce lawyers. You can find a less expensive divorce attorney by performing a quick online search using the phrase, “low cost divorce lawyer near me,” and reading the reviews of former clients of any attorneys that come up in the search results.
One important tip to keep in mind when searching for the right divorce attorney is that just because the rate of a divorce lawyer cost per hour might seem low (e.g., $250 per hour, as opposed to $500), does not mean that their final bill will be cheap.
For instance, in some situations, it may make more sense to pay for a lawyer who has experience in handling divorce cases and who thus bills at a higher hourly rate because their familiarity with such matters may reduce the time it takes to get you a divorce. In general, the less time that a lawyer who bills by the hour spends on a case, the lower their final bill will likely be.
In contrast, a divorce lawyer who charges less by the hour, but who also has less experience can end up needing additional time to research issues that a more qualified attorney already knows. Again, the more time a lawyer who bills by the hour spends on a case, the higher their final bill will likely be. Accordingly, a divorce attorney who may have seemed expensive at first, may end up actually costing you less in the long run or just as much as a less experienced lawyer would.
Therefore, you should proceed with caution when basing your decision to hire a particular divorce lawyer solely off their rate. If you need help with finding a divorce lawyer near you or if you do not have time to comb through online reviews, you should try using LegalMatch’s services whose software can do the work for you. To learn more about why LegalMatch’s services are a valuable resource for prospective clients, you should check out this article.
What are Some Factors Used When Calculating Divorce Lawyer Fees?
Some factors that may be used when calculating divorce lawyer fees include:
- The experience, skills, and reputation of the divorce lawyer being hired to take on the case;
- The type and size of the legal organization that the divorce lawyer works for (e.g., is it big or small? Is it a law firm or legal aid services?);
- The complexity of the legal issues involved in a divorce case;
- Whether the divorce decree will include arrangements for child custody, child visitation rights, and/or child support;
- The amount of items that still need to be negotiated before the final divorce proceeding;
- Whether the division of assets and property is a straightforward issue, or if the couple is struggling to cooperate on this front;
- The value as well as the number of assets and property being divided between the couple;
- Whether the divorce case is settled in mediation or requires the parties to go to trial where issues will be decided by the court;
- How long it takes for the parties to finalize the divorce;
- The fee structure used by the firm or divorce lawyer representing a party (e.g., flat fee, hourly rate, retainer fee, etc.); and
- If one of the spouses will be required to pay for attorney fees as part of the divorcing couple’s alimony arrangement.
Some other factors that could affect the final cost of a divorce lawyer include the number of documents that a lawyer is required to draft on behalf of a party, the net worth of the parties who are filing for divorce, and whether the divorce is being filed as a contested or uncontested divorce. Generally speaking, the standard rates for an uncontested divorce lawyer cost anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour, not including court filing and/or retainer fees.
Additionally, in some divorce cases, a party may be required to pay for extra legal services, such as participating in depositions, having their property appraised, and/or hiring expert witnesses to provide testimony about certain matters (e.g., conducting a psychological evaluation on one and/or both of the parties or giving a professional analysis on which home environment would be considered as more stable for the purposes of providing evidence for a court to better determine child custody).
This often happens in situations where there is a dispute between the couple over either getting a divorce or an issue within the divorce case itself. In such an event, the parties will need to file for contested divorce, which tends to be more expensive than uncontested divorce cases. To avoid filing for a contested divorce, couples should consider attending mediation. The answer to how much divorce mediation costs is between $200 and $1,000 in 2021.
What are Some Services That Divorce Attorneys Perform?
Divorce attorneys can perform many types of legal services for their clients, such as the following:
- Negotiate on a client’s behalf for child custody, alimony, and/or division of the divorcing couple’s assets and property;
- Provide legal representation in court or at a mediation conference;
- Draft, edit, review, and/or file legal documents required to get a divorce (e.g., divorce petition, child custody agreement, pre-nuptial or post-nuptial contracts, etc.);
- Hire expert witnesses to provide testimony;
- Collect and organize evidence to support a particular issue in a contested divorce case;
- Modify the terms of a child custody agreement, spousal support contract, and various other agreements made during the couple’s divorce proceedings; and
- Conduct legal research on specific issues that pertain to the couple’s divorce case (e.g., whether a state recognizes communal or equitable distribution of property).
It also should be noted that the types of services that a divorce lawyer performs can affect the rate of how much it cost for a divorce lawyer.
What are the Advantages to Hiring a Divorce Lawyer?
There are several advantages to hiring a divorce lawyer. For one, divorce lawyers are connected to a large network of professionals, such as child psychologists and real estate appraisers. This can be useful in contested divorce cases if a party needs an expert to weigh in on an issue regarding child custody or the cost of real property.
Another advantage to hiring a divorce lawyer is that they can negotiate on their client’s behalf during mediation or in the drafting of a divorce agreement. This can help to ensure that a party gets a better or fairer deal than they would have if they had represented themselves. At the very least, a divorce lawyer will be familiar with the relevant laws in a jurisdiction and can prevent a party who does not know the proper laws from being taken advantage of by their spouse.
Divorce lawyers can also determine when there may be less expensive solutions for the parties to pursue in obtaining a divorce by simply reviewing the facts of a case.
For example, a good lawyer will recommend that the parties attend mediation or file it themselves if the facts of a divorce case are extremely clear and straightforward. This can happen when a divorcing couple does not have any children or has very few assets to divide amongst themselves.
One other advantage to hiring a divorce lawyer is that they can help the parties to focus on the task at hand and can steer them away from the more emotional aspects of divorce.
For instance, when a party retains a lawyer to represent them on a divorce matter, it can potentially decrease the number of arguments that a couple has over important issues like child custody and alimony payments. This is because part of a divorce lawyer’s job is to convey what their client wants to the other party in a calm and professional manner.
Do I Need to Hire a Divorce Lawyer?
While you do not necessarily need to hire a divorce lawyer in order to file for divorce, it is generally recommended that you retain one in case you have questions or require representation in court. An experienced divorce lawyer who practices in your area can provide valuable advice on the laws and procedures required to obtain a divorce in your jurisdiction.
Your lawyer will be able to assist you with more complicated matters, such as negotiating child custody, child visitation rights, and child support. Your lawyer can also help to ensure certain protections are complied with regarding your assets and property, depending on the marital property laws in your state.
Additionally, if you need help with filing legal documents, modifying the terms of an agreement associated with your divorce (e.g., spousal support), and/or require a legal professional to represent you or argue on your behalf in court, your lawyer will be able to provide these types of services as well.
Finally, if you are unsure where to begin your search for some low cost divorce lawyers or would like to gather some quotes, you should register for a free account on LegalMatch’s website and allow their software to help you with your search for the right divorce lawyer. To learn more about how LegalMatch’s attorney matching platform works, you can start by clicking here.