Divorce Lawyers Cost Money

When money is tight, a person seeking a divorce should consider the total cost of the action.

Every divorce requires the filing of a Complaint (or Petition) for Divorce, which, depending upon the county and jurisdiction, costs between $150 to more than $200. Normally, a process service or constable serves the papers on the respondent (or defendant), and the fees for this may go as high as $75.

Indigent persons may appeal to the court to a waiver from paying filing fees. The terms and conditions vary from county to county and jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Lawyers often ask for a retainer, against which they bill for their services on an hourly basis. Depending upon the county, divorce lawyers charge between $100 and $500 an hour. Some lawyers advertise flat fee divorces, but anyone using this should understand what the flat fee covers.

Divorces become increasing complicated when additional considerations are part of the case. The simplest actions are those where there are no minor children, no property, no significant assets and no disagreements. Simple cases where there are no significant disagreements generally require only a few hours of a lawyer's time; complicated cases - those where there are minor children (with disagreement about custody and visitation), a house to dispose of, arguments about alimony and child support - can consume many, many billable attorney hours.

Suggested Reading
The Property Division Handbook The Property Division Handbook
This book will explain in detail the property distribution aspect of divorce and separation. It will focus on the rights each spouse has under certain laws, situations, and circumstances, and how the division of the property will be decided by the court or through negotiation.

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COMMUNITY PROPERTY VERSUS EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION -- There are two basic ways to handle divorce property division: Community Property: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico are community property states. This means that all marital property is typically defined as community property or separate property. When divorcing, community property is typically divided evenly, and each spouse keeps his or her separate property. Equitable Distribution: All other states follow equitable distribution. This means that a judge decides what is equitable, or fair, rather than simply splitting the property in two. In practice, this may mean that two-thirds of the property goes to the higher earning spouse, with the other spouse getting one-third.

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