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Divorce Costs?

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libertyrocks posted 2/20/2014 10:55 AM

So, I'm shopping around, I meet with a D lawyer who says it will be $1500. Ok, then call another in a different city, $700. I drive by a place in a not-so-good area and it's $399!! I'm uber confused now. I KNOW there's a lot of additional costs if we can't agree, but I think our D will be a little easier.

SeanFLA posted 2/20/2014 10:59 AM

Sorry but don't think I'd want a divorce that only cost me $400. Something has to give for those kinds of prices.

Depending what you want out of it, I think you get what you pay for.

sparkysable posted 2/20/2014 10:59 AM

$1,500 is about a normal price that a lawyer would ask for a retainer. It may cost more, it may cost less. It depends on how the divorce goes. Most will let you make payments along the way.

I would never rely on a lawyer that advertises $399 divorces.

StillLivin posted 2/20/2014 11:23 AM

Come to the West coast!
In my town, no L will take less than $3000 and the consult usually costs money.
I paid $3200 for LS. Just dropped $2900 to take it to D. But, I may get $1000 back if he doesn't contest.
You do NOT want a L that is too cheap. Better to beg, borrow, and steal for a better L.

Nature_Girl posted 2/20/2014 12:36 PM

You have kids together, right? I don't see how you're going to get a D without dropping a couple thousand.

Chrysalis123 posted 2/20/2014 12:51 PM

You need to find out what the hourly cost is. The retainer is a lump sum you pay up front that the lawyer will take the hourly fee out. Ask exactly what types of contact they charge for. My current lawyer doesn't charge for brief emails to me for instance. But if he writes a lengthy response I am charged.

You get what you pay for. Even though my divorce was expensive, it was money very well spent that will benefit my kids forever.

[This message edited by Chrysalis123 at 12:58 PM, February 20th (Thursday)]

TrustedHer posted 2/20/2014 13:54 PM

There's an old joke with a grain of truth to it.

"Know why divorce is so expensive?"

"Because it's worth it."

Here in Illinois, a typical retainer is 2 to 3 thousand, and should be enough to cover a simple divorce at $250/hour. That's the majority of cases not involving personality disorders or bitter custody battles.

I'm at about $10,000 so far, including the judge-ordered fees I paid for the X's attorney.

There were no kids involved in my divorce, but my case is definitely an outlier on the more expensive end.

If you're a SAHM or there's a bid difference in incomes, there's a good chance you can get some of your legal fees paid in the settlement.

Phoenix1 posted 2/20/2014 14:42 PM

The going rate in my state is $300-$350 per hour, and the upfront retainer varies but is usually in the $2,000 range. The more successful and well established attorneys generally charge more, and some of the newer, inexperienced will charge a little less (at least here). Some will let you draw up the papers and they will review for you, cutting your costs more. You need to really ask what their detailed charges are (per hour rate, do they charge for every communication in 15 minute increments/30 minute increments, is court time rate different, etc.) as well as their background in terms of success in their cases.

WestMonroe91 posted 2/20/2014 14:55 PM

My retainer for a non-waiver D is $1500. However, if it is contested, I was advised upfront that the total would be about $3500.
L charges $375 hr. and any communication is in 15 minute increments.
I am hoping that for my cost, the old adage will work, you know, "you get what you pay for."

LisaP posted 2/20/2014 16:09 PM

My cost for a fairly simple divorce...$14,000. He dug his feet in a little and acted like an ass on occasion, but we came to an agreement outside of the courtroom.

I am a SAHM, put down a retainer of $3,000 and paid my own attorney fees. We have kids and the standard assets (house, 401k, savings, etc) In the end, I got what I needed.

BrighterFuture posted 2/20/2014 16:14 PM

I have a question on this topic, 'does a person still need a lawyer if you can agree on everything?'

Abbondad posted 2/20/2014 17:01 PM


As others have said, "You get what you pay for."

From the very beginning, when I decided to file, I resigned myself to the fact that this will cost me; it likely will liquidate me for awhile. But as another SI member once told me, "What price peace?"

My attorney is expensive--and worth it: $3000.00 upfront retainer, $300.00 per hour. She is smart, incredibly knowledgeable of family law (35 years experience), sensible, but aggressive when need be.

I asked her when I filed, "How much will this hurt me financially?" She replied, "Abbondad, it's going to hurt." And it has. But not nearly as much as I and my children have been hurt by STBX. They are worth all the money in the world. I have a good secure job, and time enough to find a second one if need be. I will live in a cave if I have to; it will be a stable, safe and loving cave.

So really, libertyrocks, don't hold back. Money comes and goes. This is incredibly important as you know.

scarednbroken posted 2/20/2014 19:27 PM

Because of the sensitivities of my D. I was quoted a retainer of 3000. When that was exhausted it would be additional pmts.

scarednbroken posted 2/20/2014 19:30 PM

Brighter future - for your protections. Yes!!!!! Individual lawyers.

crisp posted 2/20/2014 19:40 PM

Lawyer here.

You get what you pay for.
Is not always true. You first have to identify the issues in your divorce. Are there going to be disputes? Custody? Spousal support? Property valuations? Every contested matter adds $ to the case.

If there are no contested issues and no significant assets to administer, I would definitely go for the self help or the $399 deal. If there are going to be multiple or big $ issues, serious research as to competence and compatibility of counsel is needed.

[This message edited by crisp at 7:41 PM, February 20th (Thursday)]

libertyrocks posted 2/21/2014 09:43 AM

Thank you so much everyone! I'm going to sell my wedding ring to pay for the divorce!

Thanks for advice, Crisp.
Great.(sarcastic) Part of me just wants to get it over with. But, I invested $15k in his business that failed. Grrr. I'd rather take it as a loss and have a simple D. We have no property or assets, just a lot of debt. I know he doesn't want the boys, has no place for them, is an alcoholic, and I don't think he would fight for them like I will. He can see them whenever he wants, that's not a problem. Plus, we still have mutual debt that I'm totally screwed on, because EVERYTHING under my name. He doesn't even have a checking account. Man, I picked a winner. lol. Lord knows I didn't marry for looks or money. I married for love... :(

[This message edited by libertyrocks at 12:22 PM, February 21st (Friday)]

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