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How Much Does Divorce Cost?

One of the most common questions and most difficult to answer is How much does it cost?  Nearly all domestic/family law practitioners will have a retainer and charge an hourly fee.  The legal fees vary based on the amount of time necessary to resolve the issues. Divorce costs can include: filing fees, legal fees, mediation expenses, guardian ad litem (GAL) fees, expert witness fees, psychological/psychiatric expenses, deposition and discovery costs, and expenses relating to parenting assessment, evaluation and co-parent therapy or counseling.  If the parties do not have children or agree on custody/parenting, then they will likely save all expenses related thereto; psychological, counseling, GAL, and parenting evaluation. There are very few case where a flat fee can be determined by the lawyer.  These cases typically involve an agreement between the parties on all issues.  This includes not only division of assets and debts but also custody, support and parenting time if the parties have children in common.  In this type of case, also referred to as an uncontested dissolution, the attorney may handle the case for a set fee. This legal fee may be as low as $1,500, but is to be determined based on the complexity of the case and generally does not include filing fees.  For example, complex parenting agreements, division of real estate, quit claim deeds and division of retirement via QDRO are generally additional fees.  Also, some courts require more forms and paperwork than others and the fees may increase as a result thereof.  More often, the amount of time will determine the legal fees involved.  The retainer is generally based on an anticipated minimum amount of time that the case will take to resolve.  Many cases do exceed this minimum so ongoing legal fees are generally expected. It is important to discuss fees and expectations with your attorney.  If you have a problem with the fees, it is better to address them as soon as possible.  Most attorneys are accustomed to discussing fees and should be able to verify the time expended on your case.

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