How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost?

By George Khoury, Esq. on October 10, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When shopping for a divorce lawyer, most people will want to know how much it's going to cost. Like any other legal matter, the answer will depend on numerous factors. Regardless of the answer, it'll likely be more than you want to pay.

Lawyers typically charge hourly rates for family law matters, such as divorce cases. However, occasionally a lawyer may charge a flat fee for a simple or uncontested divorce that does not involve significant assets or children. It is important to note, however, that lawyers and law firms set their own hourly rate, and how each one involves different considerations. So just like your mother probably taught you, you better shop around.

How Much Is Too Much?

When seeking out a divorce lawyer, because they usually charge by the hour, you should ask the firm or lawyer you are considering:

  • What is each lawyer's hourly rate?
  • How many hours do they expect to spend on your case?
  • What is the most you should expect to pay?
  • How many divorces have they done?

Some lawyers may charge less by the hour, other may charge more, however the hourly charge is sometimes less important than the amount of experience the lawyer has doing divorces. If you have a simple divorce, a pricier lawyer could cost you less than hiring a cheaper lawyer who does not have much experience, as you will be paying for more hours as the cheaper lawyer is in the process of learning and gaining experience. A prospective lawyer should be able to provide you with an overall estimate range after briefly evaluating your case.

Different parts of the country have different price ranges. In a place like New York City, or anywhere big money can live extravagantly, don't be surprised if some divorce lawyers charge $1,000 per hour or more. However, in big and small cities alike, there will be qualified and experienced lawyers who will handle the matter for anywhere from $200 to $400 per hour, give or take a $100 per hour. Additionally, there may be non-profits that can provide representation at a reduced rate or on a pro-bono basis.

I Have No Income, How Can I Pay my Divorce Lawyer?

When a person is not the primary wage earner, they are often concerned with having enough money to pay a lawyer at all. While there is no guarantee that a court will force your ex-spouse to pay your attorney's bill, some states do allow a judge to award attorney fees in cases where a hardship can be established. These cases usually involve a large gap between spouses' incomes or one spouse that has no income at all. Usually the lawyers you speak to in your area will know whether the court will award "reasonable" fees, or if they award fees at all.

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