Anyone who works at my front desk can give you the answer to what it costs to get divorced. It depends on the case. I’ve been asked this so many times I often reference my lack of a crystal ball. I can’t predict the cost because it all depends on so many factors.
How much does it cost for an uncontested divorce?
At my office, if it’s a simple short-term marriage with no kids and no assets it’s $1,000.00 plus court costs. Court costs change according to the court. This is what I consider a cheap divorce. When I was divorced in 1991 it cost $500.00 so the cost hasn’t gone up too much! If you have assets or children then it costs $2,500.00 plus court costs at my office. But then the cost can change depending on what kinds of assets. If there are retirement accounts requiring QDRO (qualified domestic relations orders) we charge $1,500 per QDRO. They are often time intensive and complicated to get through the system. If you have a house, we have to prepare a deed, that’s another small add on cost. And if you have a lot of changes, it’s going to cost you additional costs.
The real questions come when you talk about what it costs to get a contested divorce. Again, it depends. What are the issues? If they are relatively simple, for instance, you want the divorce and your spouse doesn’t, then that’s probably going to be pretty cheap. If you add in business interests, adultery, custody, alimony, assets, and retirement accounts then it is going to cost more.
These are the other factors that affect the cost of a contested divorce:
- Are you high maintenance? I have some clients who want to meet with me many times to go over things. I have some who we can give basic directions and they manage easily.
- Are there experts involved? Expert witnesses always cost you. The cost can range to many thousands of dollars depending on the type of experts.
- Who is the attorney on the other side? There are some attorneys who just run the bill up in my opinion. For instance, I can send a short email and bill .15 and they may respond with a three-page letter!
- How many times do you get set for trial? We can’t help it, the Courts are often backed up but we have to go over again and again and we have to prepare. I have one client who we had gone to a docket call so many times in Limestone County, with him paying travel each time, finally I just said, don’t worry about paying me anymore. It wasn’t my fault, but this client had spent thousands of dollars just on travel time.
- Do you email and call a lot? See number 1. If you have a particularly problematic case it may be necessary. But often it’s not.
- Are you complaint and getting us what we need when we ask. If not, we have to ask again and again. The other side will get involved and possibly the Court. All of these things cost you money.
- Are there multiple hearings on your case? If so, that’s going to cost you.
- The opposing side is not complaint. That cost more as well.
- You change your mind about things. I have one client who has gone through about $5,000 because they keep adding things to their settlement. Or has the other side changed their mind?
- Are there a lot of issues as referenced above. If you have significant assets, it can cost a lot of money and time going through the process of delineating asset division.
Now, you can see, what a contested divorce costs is not an easy question to answer. In some cases you are in charge of your own destiny. I have had similar cases cost clients vastly different amounts due to the interaction the clients wanted to have with us. Everything is based on the time involved.
I hope this helps give you and idea of what a divorce costs. Or if you know where I can get a crystal ball, let me know.