How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Charge – 2024 Guide

Divorce isn’t a pleasant experience, at least not in most cases. Even if it is friendly, you can rarely be happy about the separation, no matter how much you want it. It signifies a new start and a new chapter in your life and you are leaving the familiar grounds behind you. Approximately, 50 percent of marriages end up with a divorce. It isn’t something a person plans when he or she says “Yes” yet it happens.

Other than being unpleasant, divorces are quite expensive. You will find attorneys that will charge you $250 per hour on average. The entire divorce process can set you back $15,000 but those costs can be even higher, up to $100,000. Keep in mind that the prices are subjective. The cost of the divorce depends on multiple factors such as the attorney’s level, skill and reputation, the state you live in, how intricate your process is, etc.

Now, let us see what’s taken into consideration when you decide to hire a lawyer. The price depends on several factors, as we have already said, but we will dig deeper.

Among the factors affecting a divorce lawyer’s charges include:

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  • Whether or not the divorce is contested or uncontested;
  • The hourly rate of lawyers versus a fixed fee;
  • The location where the divorce is being filed, and the local filing fees;
  • Child custody and evaluation
  • Whether or not there is Alimony
  • Mediation

The outcome of every divorce is determined by the defendants, their attorneys, and what is at stake, so averages are the only measure available for guessing the cost. It is all but impossible to determine a standard overall cost since every case is different.

These days, an increasing number of very respectable attorneys and firms are offering a flat-rate billing structure, as a way to keep the billing process simple for the clients. If you do manage to find an attorney offering representation for a flat, or fixed, rate, you should certainly do your due diligence and look into the firm, as well as who the firm has represented and its record of judgments on previous cases.

It is in your best interest since there are a few firms who appear to offer a flat fee but then add in fees and upcharges that clients find suspicious, to do your research. Despite that possibility, however, flat rate billing can make things much easier for you during what is already a financially and emotionally draining process, as long as it’s done honestly and ethically. Some firms pride themselves on offering fixed fees and you are wise to take advantage of them to keep your attorney’s fees in budget.

To ensure you’re making a well-informed decision when selecting a divorce attorney, it’s crucial to ask about all potential fees upfront. This includes inquiring not only about their billing method—whether it’s hourly or a flat rate—but also about any additional costs that could arise during the divorce proceedings, such as court filing fees, costs for forensic accountants, and expenses related to child custody evaluations. By having a clear understanding of the total cost, you can better manage your budget and avoid unexpected financial strains during an already challenging time. To keep the expenses under control you should always seek the help of the best divorce lawyer Chicago has to offer.

Retainer Fees and How They Work

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More often than not, you will need to pay a retainer fee to your lawyer before the process starts. Consider this a downpayment for the services they will provide, no matter the outcome. Keep in mind that the lawyers need to make sure to earn something because a lot of things can happen in the process. You might give up on it when they have prepared all the work and studied your case. Therefore, they need to make sure to not work for free. Rarely will you find an attorney that will not ask for a retainer fee.

Having said that, you will have an opportunity for a free consultation and they will give you a free quote. A large majority of lawyers make this possible for their clients, as it is only fair to calculate how much a divorce will cost you before you sign anything. This is something that will help you estimate the price and the length of the entire process. Find a divorce mediation checklist here.

You can do this with several lawyers and opt for the one who offers the best price and the best services. Some will be more expensive than others, but you need to follow your gut on this one. Is it really wise to go with the cheapest option here? What if you lose the case and end up paying much more to your ex, eventually? It always pays off to have a good lawyer that will secure you a win.

Court Proceedings Also Cost Money

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Everyone getting a divorce should be aware that the cost of the attorney is not the only cost associated with the process. You also have to pay all court costs, and possibly the cost of a mediator. In some cases, the two spouses will agree to split fees, but you may find yourself paying the full fee out of pocket. The filing fee is usually the most expensive fee you will pay to the courts when filing for a divorce. While the cost will vary from state to state, it’s typically about $300.  There are smaller court fees as well, but the filing fee is usually the largest court fee you will incur.

If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on major issues, it’s possible to file an uncontested divorce, which is the least expensive option. If you write and file divorce papers on your own, it could cost you less than $500. Some states also will grant 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, since you presumably have already agreed on everything.


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As you can see, divorce can be quite expensive. Not only do you pay for lawyers, but you also need to deal with the administration and courts. Therefore, think twice before you make any decision. Does it worth it to go through all of this or can you come to a mutual agreement and simply deal with paperwork?

Check out if you want to know more about how a divorce attorney can assist you in this case.