The answer to this question is probably about $10,000.00. It really does depend though. In our office, you’re probably closer to $3,000 to $6,000 but it depends on a number of factors, including how much fighting there is between the parties. The truth is – if one party puts their foot down so to speak and the other party refuses to relent; then, you’re going to trial and your divorce will be over ,000 easily if you go to trial.
According to the results from our survey, the average time it took to complete a divorce from filing the petition to getting their settlement or the final court judgment was about 11 months. Cases that went to trial on any issue took an average of 17months to resolve, while the readers who settled their issues were able to resolve their cases in nine months. The results also indicate that letting a judge resolve divorce issues doesn’t lead to happier customers; as the number of issues resolved at trial increased, the overall satisfaction with the process decreased. There may be a number of reasons for this. The longer your case drags on and the more squabbling that occurs, the unhappy you are likely to be. Keep in mind too, that folks who are naturally litigious might also be less satisfied with any result, no matter what it is. And of course, the more issues you have to resolve through trial, the more you’ll pay your attorney—not a recipe for overall satisfaction.
Factors that Impact the Cost Of Divorce
The costs depend on a variety of factors whether or not you or your spouse agree on specific things, and if you or your spouse require or want to use an attorney.
Factors affecting the average cost include:
- If the divorce is contested or uncontested
- The hourly rate of lawyers versus a retainer fee
- Location where the divorce is being filed, and the local filing fees
- Child custody
- Child custody evaluation
One of the first things to realize is that a divorce is, technically, a lawsuit. When one spouse files a divorce, they are suing for divorce. The more factors or issues unresolved by the person filing for divorce and the other party, such as custody or care of children or maintenance of property, or other shared assets such as investments, pensions, financial support, the more likely it is to cost the person filing for divorce. The more major issues resolved by both parties, the less it is likely to cost.
If you and your spouse agree on major issues, regardless of how many there are, you can file an uncontested divorce – the least expensive which could cost you even under 0 if you write and file your own divorce papers. All states charge their own fees for filing for divorce, even an uncontested filing, so a precise cost isn’t predictable. Some states also will grant the filer a waiver on the filing fees based on income. For an uncontested divorce, if the state where you file has a mandatory waiting period, once that period is up the divorce decree is final. An uncontested divorce is the least expensive, and the most straightforward, because no lawyers or mediators are needed to help both parties agree to the terms. When you file a divorce petition, you also need to serve the case, or papers, to your spouse. In the case of a divorce, the papers can be served either in person or by mail. In the case of an online, “do-it-yourself” divorce, the person who first filed the petition with the court usually submits the petition and a summons to the local sheriff’s department for the papers to be served by law enforcement personnel or arranges for a private process server to deliver the petition – a signature from the other party indicating they either agree to the terms or wish to contest it. A private process server to serve divorce papers usually costs about $50.
The Average Cost of a Divorce With a Lawyer
If there are significant assets to divide, or child custody, child support or alimony to decide, both parties usually benefit by hiring their own attorney. Using a lawyer, of course, increases the cost for either party. With a lawyer, your divorce could cost you a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars; depending on how much time of the lawyer’s you are billed. Lawyer fees, billed by the hour, can range from several hundred dollars an hour to more than $500. For some lawyers, a 15-minute consulting phone call, or emailing, could cost you half a billable hour. And a half-hour could cost you a billable hour. Lawyers charge for phone calls, emails, text messages, court preparation, depositions (questioning others on the record), discovery (getting information from your spouse’s lawyer related to your case), paper preparation and review, and research. Lawyers charge an average of about $1,000 for an uncontested divorce. In states with a higher standard of living, lawyers can charge an average of $3,500-$5,000 to help you complete an uncontested divorce. A contested divorce in which major issues like division of assets and child custody or support, or even actually divorcing, can’t be agreed on can cost from an average $2,500 up to several thousand dollars or more. In a contested divorce, the issues may ultimately have to be hashed out in front of a judge. A divorce that has to go to trial can cost couples as much as $20,000 on average to complete, with at least $15,000 going to attorneys’ fees, according to some lawyers. Settling a case out of court can cost closer to $15,000.
Most lawyers charge a flat fee or retainer to help with a divorce, but in general family law attorneys charge an average between $150-$250 per hour, though some might charge as much as $650 or more an hour to help clients through a complicated or difficult divorce, like one in which couples have their own businesses or other more complex shared assets. A retainer should cover most of the court fees, filing fees, and the lawyers’ time to meet in person, correspond with you by email or phone or text, and to appear at court hearings or other proceedings in person.
A contested divorce with children requiring lawyers to help work out custody details will cost more because of the lawyer’s time involved than an uncontested one. Generally, the more time a child spends with one parent, the less in child support that parent has to pay. But in a contested divorce where no agreement can be reached on child custody or a schedule, the court can require a child custody evaluation be done by a trained psychologist who interviews each parent. The psychologist also talks to the kids, and observes the kids at home with each parent. If the child custody evaluator works for the county, the evaluation will cost an average of $1,000-$2,500. If a private evaluator is used, the charge might be $10,000 or more. Alimony determination can also take a lot of time and increase the cost to the couple. You can cut costs by using a lawyer for only part of your case: also called ‘limited scope representation.’ You could have your lawyer just review documents, or negotiate with your lawyer what you will or won’t pay for, such as agreeing to use the lawyer to prepare and review documents but not to charge you for phone calls or emails.
A hearing or trial will also naturally increase your costs. Trials sometimes incur costs to you for several expert witnesses, and the cost of going to trail alone often results in divorce cases being settled out of court. For that reason, family law judges in most states assigned to contested divorce cases require couples to do everything they can to reach a settlement agreement and avoid a trial, because a trial costs not only the couple divorcing but also the city and state where the divorce is proceeding.
If children are involved, yours together or even separately, costs increase with agreements having to be reached or adjudicated regarding child support, custody, and visitation. Without such issues, a divorce between two people in agreement can save both parties expense. That is why an uncontested divorce is the least expensive. If you and your spouse agree on the major issues of the divorce, you can write your own agreement. Your only cost then would be filing fees, serving papers, and the cost of divorce papers them if you get them online. Online companies will charge for preparing divorce papers, but they may also have lawyers review them for you. Some courts will give you a divorce packet for free; some states will have them available for free on their website as well.
Besides an uncontested divorce, a way to save money and avoid a trial would be to use mediation of a collaborative divorce. In mediation, you and your spouse avoid trial be mediating with a neutral third party, a mediator. Because it involves a third party, usually a professional mediator, attorney-mediator, or former commissioner or judge, mediation can still wind up costing between a few thousand and $10,000 dollars, on average, depending on how long the mediation takes and how much is involved. Mediation usually costs an average of $100-$300 an hour.
Even a collaborative divorce is cheaper than going to trial. In a collaborative divorce, both parties retain attorneys. You, your spouse, and your attorneys meet to hash out contested parts of the divorce. If you and your spouse ultimately reach agreements, while the attorneys will be an expense, the cost of litigation will be saved.
The average divorce cost is a relative term. Different factors determine whether the cost of divorce will be on the high or low end of the spectrum. Things that factor into the cost of a divorce include:
- Where you’re getting divorced
- Whether you’re using a lawyer for your entire divorce or only part of it
- Whether you have children
- Whether you’re doing it yourself
- Whether you’re doing your divorce online
- Whether you’re using mediation or collaborative divorce
- Whether you agree with your spouse about major issues
- Whether you need to go to trial
If both parties agree on all major issues, known as an uncontested divorce, you can keep the costs relatively low. If you do your own divorce papers and your divorce is amicable, costs could be under $500. Of course, there are filing fees in all states, which increase the cost. Unless you get a waiver based on your income, you must pay filing fees.
How To Keep Costs Down
You may be wondering how you can keep expenses on your case to a minimum. While some elements that add to the expense of a case are out of your control, there are several things you can do to help keep the costs down on your case.
- Submit requested documentation: If your attorney requests information from you, try to get all of it to their office in a timely manner and be as thorough as possible. Doing this will keep your case from being delayed. If you fail to submit documents you may hold up your case and also require your counsel to follow up with you numerous times, costing you money.
- Keep your emotions in check: If you are in the middle of a divorce, odds are your emotions are running high. Don’t make irrational decisions in a time of emotional turmoil. Before turning down a divorce settlement offer, discuss the pros and cons with your attorney to make sure you are making an educated decision.
- Ask questions: If you are concerned about a cost associated with your case, ask questions. Ask if there is a mediator that charges a lower hourly rate; ask if you can provide your own copies of case documents, etc. These small things can make an impact.
- Be cautious about bargain shopping: While it may seem like a good deal to handle your divorce yourself, there are professionals in the legal industry for a reason. Often times people end up requiring the services of an attorney to correct DIY paperwork, which can be more expensive than just hiring an attorney initially.
If you are hiring an attorney for your case, don’t just hire an attorney based only on their hourly rate. Consider their experience, reputation, and communication skills. Your attorney should bring you a sense of relief. You should feel comfortable having them take your case and you should find it easy to communicate with them. Again, if you hire the wrong attorney while bargain shopping and then try to hire a different attorney later, it can often be expensive getting your new attorney up to speed on your case and making any corrections needed.
Divorce can be an expensive and emotional process, so don’t trust your case to just anyone. Your divorce involves things that are irreplaceable, so we recommend enlisting the services of a firm that handles the unique area of family law on a daily basis.
Utah formerly followed the “fault” concept in divorce proceedings; this meant that to establish grounds for a divorce, one spouse blamed the other or found fault with the other spouse. In 1987 Utah passed a law that allows divorce when there are “irreconcilable differences” such as when the parties can no longer “pursue the legitimate purposes of the marriage.” Under this law one party doesn’t have to blame the other but may simply tell the court that the marriage is no longer working. This is what is called a “no fault” divorce provision. The law previously held that the offending spouse who caused the divorce, lost rights and property in a divorce proceeding, but as a practical matter and by statute this is no longer the case. The person that begins the divorce action is called the “Petitioner”; the person against whom the divorce is filed is called the “Respondent.”
The following are the statutory grounds for divorce in Utah:
- Irreconcilable differences of the parties.
- Impotency at the time of marriage.
- Adultery committed subsequent to marriage.
- Willful desertion of the other spouse for more than one year.
- Willful neglect to provide the common necessities of life.
- Habitual drunkenness.
- Conviction of a felony.
- Cruel treatment to the extent of causing bodily injury or great mental distress mental or physical cruelty.
- The spouses have lived separate and apart under a decree of separate maintenance for a period of three consecutive years, three years under separate maintenance decree.
- Permanent and incurable insanity (must be established by competent medical testimony).
Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah
If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506 for your free consultation. We will help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506