How Much is it going to Cost?
Depending on your area and your specific circumstances, you can probably locate an attorney that will perform your uncontested divorce for as low as $500. That’s not a lot of money. I have even seen some attorneys who offer uncontested divorces for as little as $300. Now, cost is a factor, but it is not the only factor. Saving $100 isn’t worth it if what you end up with is a lot of hassle without the final result.
Contested divorce are usually not handled for a flat fee. Most are done on an hourly basis with attorney rates anywhere between $100 and $500 per hour. A retainer is an initial deposit that almost all attorneys require up front in order to begin the work. The initial retainer will range between $1000 and may go as high as $10,000. Keep in mind, these are just the upfront costs. Once your retainer is depleted, then you will be responsible for paying the monthly costs as per the terms of your contract with your attorney. If you fail to pay as required, the attorney will most likely withdraw from your case.
The biggest factor in determining how much a divorce will cost is the quantity of disagreement between the spouses (how much are you going to fight). Uncontested divorces are the cheapest, and by definition, there is no disagreement. On the contrary, contested divorces can range from a minor disagreement (we disagree on who is responsible for paying a bill) to we disagree about everything. I’ve even seen cases where the parties cannot agree on who is going to get the pictures from a vacation. Each area of disagreement cause more time on the part of the attorneys, and therefore more cost for the parties.
Additionally, there are some non-legal costs of divorce, which can sometimes exceed the legal costs of divorce. You may very well have to transfer title to property, cash in a retirement account, or pay for a moving service to help you take your things to your new home. These types of costs have to be planned for as well. The best thing to do is to sit down and make a list, update it as necessary, and then figure out how you’re going to pay for what.