As people weigh out whether to hire a family lawyer for their divorce, they often ask how much a divorce lawyer costs.
This seems like a reasonable question on the face, but it is actually not the right one to ask. Rather, they should ask how much will the divorce cost. Only then, can they decide whether the benefits of having an attorney to represent them are worth the price.
Divorce Lawyer Costs
Like other types of attorneys, divorce lawyers bill by the hour for their time and for the time of their assistants. Generally, a divorce attorney will charge $300 – $600 per hour depending on their seniority and experience. They will bill their paralegal’s time at $80 – $120 per hour.
However, this tells the client only a small part of the story. After all, it is difficult to predict ahead of time how many hours it will require to handle a case.
The complexity of a case truly determines the final bill. However, the more complicated the case, the more benefit there is in having an attorney represent your interests.
Some common factors that increase the cost of a divorce are:
- Property negotiations
- Children’s custody and visitation issues
- Going to court for hearings or assessments
- Record discovery and retrieval
- Going to court for trial proceedings
- Valuation reports and family reports
Any one of those factors raises the complexity of the case, and thus the time that it will take to handle it.
Costs Of A Divorce
The good news is that there are divorces that minimize costs. If you have a simple proceeding, then we only charge $890 in lawyer fees.
In order to qualify as a simple proceeding, your case needs to meet the following requirements:
- You have been married for at least 2 years; AND
- You have lived separate and apart for at least 12 months; AND
- Your spouse agrees to the divorce; AND
- You have made proper care arrangements for all children currently under 18; AND
- Both you and your spouse have an Australian mailing address; AND
- You have a copy of your Marriage Certificate, any upon financial or children’s Orders agreed upon by you and your spouse, and a copy of your passport or citizenship papers.
It is important to note that you will also need to pay $930 in court filing fees. This is a fee charged by the Court regardless of whether or not you hire a lawyer.
Again, more complex proceedings will cost more. You may spend $4,500 to resolve thorny property issues. It may cost $4,000 to go to a hearing on child arrangements. Taking a case to trial may cost $5,000 per day. Reports may cost $3,000 – $6,000 depending on the time required to investigate.
Remember that time is money, and the more you can get advice early and follow that advice, the more time and money you will save. If you can mediate issues you will save money.
Act unemotionally and work with your lawyer to decide what issues must be fought and which can be negotiated.
Get information yourself when possible and organize your own documents. Be prepared and do your homework. The more information your lawyer has at the beginning, the faster they will be able to advise you.
Hiring a lawyer for your divorce proceedings is usually the wisest course of action. It may cost you a little upfront, but it will save you time, money, and frustration over the long run.