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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Legal > Divorce

Divorce Cost


How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

 
low costDo-It-Yourself: Several Hundredaverage costUncontested: $1,000-$10,000high costContested: $5,000-$25,000+
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  Typical costs:
  • Divorce attorneys may charge hourly fees of $75-$400, depending on the type of work done, or flat fees varying from $200 for filing a motion to $10,000-$25,000 for handling all aspects of a divorce. If paying an hourly rate, the total can be$20,000-$50,000 or more in complicated, highly emotional cases.
  • A retainer is an up-front fee paid to hire an attorney. It's either a percentage of the agreed-upon flat fee or the equivalent of several hours work. A lawyer on an hourly basis deducts that rate from the retainer as the work is done; when the retainer is gone, you are billed for more money. A South Carolina attorney charges a $750 retainer for an uncontested divorce with minimal work and a $5,000 retainer for a contested case with complex issues such as child custody or distribution of property. SideRoad.com[1] gives an overview of attorney's fees and payment arrangements.
  • Nolo Press[2] sells detailed do-it-yourself workbooks and kits for $30-$50 for residents of California and Texas who want an out-of-court settlement, and a workbook giving nationwide guidelines and worksheets ($20-$25) for getting organized and avoiding pitfalls. DivorceSupport.com provides a list of state laws and resources[3] .
  • Companies such as DivorcesYourself.com and RapidLaw.net offer online paperwork by state for $20-$50 and "full" online divorce services for$150-$250. However, the Illinois State Bar Association warns that there can be problems with this fill-in-the-blank one-size-fits-all approach to divorce.
What should be included:
  • Divorce Magazine[4] provides state-by-state answers to frequently asked questions about divorce.
  • ConsumerReports.com gives an overview of the financial and legal steps to take when considering a divorce.
Additional costs:
  • Fees for investigators and other experts are not included in the attorney's charges; these can add another $2,000-$7,500 or more, depending on circumstances.
  • Your attorney will charge you for time spent answering your questions by phone or e-mail, and for staff time spent making photocopies, doing research or other work related to your case.
  • Court filing fees of $75-$350 or arbitration fees of $200-$400 an hour vary by county and state, and are not included in you attorney's charges.
  • Divorce has a number of related costs, such as finding a new home, moving, new utility and telephone deposits, child care, replacing items that were given to the spouse in the division of property and more.
  • If you take the do-it-yourself route, be sure the divorce is really done; the LA Times warns that some people who think they're divorced might not be.
Shopping for a divorce:
  • EqaulityInMarriage.org explains how to find an attorney[5] and then how to "manage" your attorney[6] . ConsumerLawPage.com gives a detailed explanation for how to find the right attorney.
  • The American Bar Association[7] links to legal resources by state, including free or low-cost legal help, the bar association to check that a lawyer is licensed in that state, and referrals to local lawyers.
  • The American Association of Matrimonial Attorneys allows you to search for an attorney by city and state.
  • Check with local or state bar associations[8] to see if an attorney is licensed in your state. Your attorney should provide a written statement of fees; read it before signing and keep a copy for your records. Be sure you understand what's covered; ask what other fees you might have to pay in the process of getting a divorce.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.sideroad.com/Divorce/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost.html
  2.  www.nolotech.com/index.html
  3.  www.divorcesupport.com/
  4.  www.divorcemag.com/faq/
  5.  www.equalityinmarriage.org/wdfindlawyer.html
  6.  www.equalityinmarriage.org/wdmanaging.html
  7.  apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/home.cfm
  8.  www.americanbar.org/groups/bar_services/resources/state_local_bar_associations.html
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