The average retainer fee for a divorce lawyer is $3,500 with costs varying from $2,000 to $5,000 for the US in 2019-2020.
When you are thinking about getting the services of a divorce lawyer, the cost of doing so is a question that often weighs heavily. We conducted a survey where people from across the United States who had recently gone through a divorce had to spend. Read on to learn more.
In our survey 85% of our respondents had the lawyers deal with the total divorce case, from its outset to its conclusion. This is often referred to as full-scope representation. The other 15% responded saying they hired attorneys on a consulting basis. In these cases, the lawyers may have helped in some of the following ways: They may have reviewed a portion of the case on their behalf, give other advice and examples of established practice as well as reviewing and preparing a settlement agreement. Interestingly, the average cost as reported by 70% of our respondents was between $200 to $300 per hour for divorce attorneys.
Divorce Lawyers’ Average Hourly Rates
Respondents stated they paid an average of $270 per hour for the services of a divorce attorney as a national average. However hourly rates change dramatically based on the experience of the attorney where they practice and whether they have any certifications or specialized training.
Average Divorce Attorney Cost
When our respondents hired lawyers for full-scope services they reported paying an average of $11,300. Many were lower, but the average is inflated by a small percentage paying very high fees for said services. The median total was $7,000. 42 percent of respondents stated they paid $5,000 or less in total fees to their divorce attorneys. And 28 percent paid between $6,000 to $10,000 in attorney’s fees (not counting the fees of their spouse.)
Examining the data two interconnected factors are at play contributing to the final costs. First, couples always paid less when they were able to resolve any disputes without going through a trial and how long the divorce process took. Conversely, respondents who had at least one issue that had to be contested in court paid around 70 percent more in attorney’s fees.
Cost Factors of A Contested Divorce
It would therefore stand to reason that when there are not serious disagreements, the fees for attorneys will be significantly less – even when you may have to come to a settlement on a few matters via negotiation. Respondents who reported zero contested issues but still opted for a full scope legal service paid $4,000 per spouse on average in fees, versus $10,400 when they had one item that was disputed but avoided going to court be utilizing a process of negotiation. But when a trial was needed the fees leapt up more than 70 percent to around $17,700 per spouse on average.
Divorce Costs More If It Takes Longer
The longer your divorce takes the more fees you will pay to a divorce attorney. We also learned from our respondents that divorces that took less than six months to conclude only cost an average of $6,500. Compare that to cases that took more than thirty months to resolve and the average skyrocketed to $23,000. Remember, there can be many reasons why this can be an elongated process – so finding a lawyer who is efficient and highly experienced will help keep the costs of your divorce within a reasonable scope.
What Do Lawyers Charge For?
Attorneys often bill in increments of six or fifteen minutes for each and everything they do in your case including:
- Research and documentation review.
- Prepping and appearing at the hearings and trial(s.)
- Every communication you have with them through every media.
- Preparing settlement agreements.
- Investigative discovery, depositions and motion hearings.
- Communicating with the other involved parties.
- The relevant follow-up legal work after the trial concludes.
Average Retainer Fees For A Divorce Lawyer
It is standard operating procedure for a lawyer to get an advance on their fees (known as a retainer.) These usually cost between $2,000 to $5,000. Around 90% of our respondents said they paid a retainer upon hiring their new divorce attorney.
Sharing Divorce Costs
In the majority of states, a family law judge may insist one spouse pay the attorney fees of the other spouse. This is especially so when there is a large disparity in income and one spouse is it a disadvantage. Nonetheless, less than one in five of our respondents claimed their ex contributed to the fees of an attorney or that they paid some of the fees for the ex-spouse.
Inevitably some divorces are more expensive than others. If evaluators are needed for custody issues and forensic accountants needed to investigate financial matters. Our respondent data showed the average cost was $1,850 for each spouse just for the experts. Whereas non-attorney costs were just $500. Add in a contested issue and the price can quickly escalate to an average of $1,600 and an average of $2,750 should the situation have to be handled by the courts.
If you need mediators, the mediation charges will usually be billed to you by your attorney. Your fee agreement will state how these should be handled and paid. Always discuss financial issues at the outset of your initial meeting with an attorney and along the way, as your case advances forward.
Need a Divorce Lawyer in Scottsdale or Phoenix?
We have a network of Arizona mediators, attorneys, tax specialists, estate planners, financial planners, child specialists, real property appraisers, adult and child therapists and parenting coordinators who are here for you if you ever need them. Our lawyers, divorce mediators and collaborative divorce attorneys in Scottsdale are here to make your divorce less stressful and keep you in control and costs contained. Call today for an initial consultation at 480-240-0040 or [email protected]. Our family lawyers can also help with divorce litigation, child custody, legal guardianship, paternity, prenuptial agreements, and more.
*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.