Just like no two marriages are exactly alike, the same is true when it comes to divorces. Each divorce presents a brand new, unique set of circumstances, factors, assets, and emotions. Due to the individualized nature of divorce, there is no one-size-fits-all approach and therefore no easy way to predict exactly how much your divorce will cost. However, understanding how legal fees work can prove extremely helpful in understanding what those costs might be by the time your divorce is finalized. Remember, legal services are meant to provide a custom solution to your unique situation. The final cost will largely depend on how you and your lawyer work through your case.
HOW DOES BILLING WORK?
Generally, divorce lawyers utilize one of two common billing models: flat-fee billing or hourly billing. Depending on your situation, one may be preferable for you over the other, but both methods have advantages and drawbacks that are worth considering.
Flat-fee billing means that the lawyer and the client agree upfront on which services will be provided. Lawyers who work on a flat-fee basis should be very clear and specific at the time of your agreement about which you can expect from them in terms of the work that will be performed, how long the work will take, and what the total cost will be.
It is not uncommon to find that flat-free arrangements motivate your lawyer to move your case along at a faster pace, which may not always be preferable, however there is certainly something to be said for knowing exactly what your legal costs will be and not having to worry about being hit with any surprise bills.
In an hourly billing arrangement, your lawyer will require you to deposit a substantial retainer into your lawyer’s trust account. As your case progresses and your lawyer completes work on your behalf, the cost will be billed against your retainer. It is standard practice for you to receive an itemized statement showing every charge for which you’ve been billed. If and when your retainer runs below a specific threshold to be determined by you and your lawyer, you may be asked to deposit more money into your lawyer’s trust account.
It is worth noting that while lawyers who operate on an hourly billing model tend to hold themselves to strict ethical practices, they also lack any particular motivation to move your case along as quickly as they would in the context of a flat-fee agreement. Due to the unique nature of each divorce, it’s impossible for anyone to predict what the total for an hourly fee divorce will be until the divorce is completed and your final invoice has been created.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET A DIVORCE IN TEXAS IF BOTH PARTIES AGREE?
While it’s true that it’s impossible to predict exactly how much your divorce will cost, it’s also true that uncontested divorces are generally less costly for both parties than contested divorces. Still, even if both parties are in agreement, there are several factors that can impact the price of your divorce:
- Ownership and division of property, including cars, bank accounts, fine art, and furniture
- Ownership and division of one or more homes
- Custody arrangements when children are involved
- Ownership of retirement accounts
Additionally, uncontested divorces still require court filing fees. Even with both parties aligned, there is still much room for variation from case to case.
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR FACTORS THAT DETERMINE DIVORCE COSTS?
While uncontested divorces are generally much less expensive and easier all the way around than contested divorces, sometimes the two parties involved are far from seeing eye to eye. When this happens, a contested divorce becomes inevitable. The duration, complexity, and cost of your divorce becomes dependent on several factors, which include
- Conservatorship, custody, and child support issues when children are involved
- One party seeking alimony from the other
- One or both parties is filing for bankruptcy
- One or more properties to divide
- Prenuptial agreements
- Retirement accounts to divide
- Hours spent in mediation sessions prior to trial
- Hours spent preparing your case for trial
- Preparing for and attending Temporary Orders Headings
Not every divorce will be impacted by all of these elements, however each divorce will involve some combination of them. The fewer issues that factor into your divorce, the less costly your divorce is likely to be.
CAN I GET A DIVORCE WITHOUT GOING TO COURT?
In many best-case scenarios, contested divorces can be resolved through mediation, in which both parties have the opportunity to negotiate with one another through a mediator in the hopes of reaching a solution to your divorce as opposed to having a judge decide. There are many Texas courts which require at least one mediation session prior to going to trial, and if mediation is effective, it can save you a lot of time and money.
When mediation is not an effective way to solve your divorce, the next step is to go to trial. Divorces that go to trial typically turn out to be the most expensive, largely resulting from all of the hours of preparation that go into them as well as all the hours spent in the courtroom.
Divorces are, understandably, quite emotionally charged, causing tensions to remain high. Still, any areas in which both parties can agree help the proceedings move along more smoothly. While you and your attorney will have a clear vision of your ideal positive outcome, it is also important to prepare for wins as well as losses. No matter how hard both parties work to resolve issues amicably, divorces are incredibly complex. Having experienced attorneys on both sides can make the divorce process so much easier all the way around.
WHERE DO I START IF I WANT A DIVORCE IN HOUSTON, TEXAS?
If divorce is inevitable for you, the first step is choosing an experienced divorce attorney to represent your best interests and advocate for you throughout the process, all the white protecting your rights. The outcome of your divorce will likely have a significant impact on all aspects of your life for the foreseeable future, so selecting your attorney is not a choice to be made lightly. Find an attorney who actively listens to your needs and is dedicated to working hard to achieve an outcome that addresses those needs to the best possible extent.
At Von Dohlen Law Firm, our team can help you visualize the finish line. We will work together to determine anticipated costs and have honest conversations about what to expect in order to prevent unwanted surprises. Though the journey to finalizing your divorce may appear unclear or daunting, your attorney is there to advise, support, and guide you at each and every turn. We pride ourselves on many years of experience and unwavering confidence in navigating the complex laws regarding each aspect of your divorce. Together, we will work to secure the best possible outcome.
If you’re ready to take the next step, we are confident that we can help. Sign up for a call with our intake team and find out more about our commitment to helping you achieve the best possible outcome. Our availability is limited, so don’t hesitate to book an appointment today.