The divorce process is one that always comes with an infinite amount of questions.
The number one question when considering a divorce is how much will this divorce cost me?
Divorce, unfortunately, comes with a lot of expenses (and at a time when you need money the most).
You have the cost of a divorce attorney, possibly needing to get a place to stay, new furniture, possible child support and maintenance (aka: alimony).
And if you have an extremely adversarial situation, you also need to consider the costs of hiring experts, appraisers, forensic accountants, etc.
So the bad news is that it can cost a lot, and there is rarely a firm answer to this question.
The good news is that there are alternatives that are (relatively) affordable when it comes to divorce options.
In uncontested divorce cases, we plan on doing the vast majority of the work outside of the courtroom, and with any luck, you will never get there.
These packages start at $999, and go up from there depending on the variables in your case that will require work (example: parenting plan is needed anytime there are children involved).
Uncontested divorces have a flat rate price, and you will only be paying more if you use additional attorney time or if the matter becomes contested at any point.
In contested divorce cases, the flat rate we offer includes an intake meeting, the drafting of all documents, four hours of attorney time, and appearance at the first hearing.
We do our best to try and resolve as many issues as possible before that first hearing, and can hopefully narrow the topics that are contested to as few as possible and have the Judge weigh in on them.
These generally start at $3,500, and we customize them for each case as needed.
The other way to do divorce, and the more traditional way (which we also offer) is to put down what is called a retainer, which is funds deposited in your attorney’s trust account.
Your attorney will bill by the hour, and when you get invoiced, the funds you put in the retainer will be withdrawn from the trust account and put into the attorneys operating account.
What attorneys charge varies from $150 per hour to more than $1,000 per hour.
The average divorce attorney in St. Louis charges around $300 per hour.
Going the cheap route in your divorce is rarely your best option; just as a discount surgeon is probably not who you want operating on you.
Attorneys in divorce cases are like surgeons. Instead of removing a limb or a tumor, we are cutting apart your life.
One slip up could cost you a lot more than if you would have just spent the money on hiring someone who specializes in the area and knows what they are doing.
A cheap divorce attorney that is charging towards the bottom of the hourly rate might not have the experience, support, or knowledge to provide adequate representation.
This is a person who is going to be fighting for you, your children, and everything you ever worked for.
You are better off to invest in a good attorney who knows their stuff when it comes to family law, and when possible, hire someone who focuses their practice on family law.
The area of divorce law is rapidly and consistently changing, and you need an attorney that knows what is going on and how best to protect you and your family.
You do not need to spend $1,000 per hour (and often shouldn’t), but getting an attorney for $300 per hour that knows their stuff is actually going to save you money in the long run over the cheap lawyer that practices several types of law or does not specialize in divorce and family law services.
You will not have to pay the divorce focuses attorney to research things on your case and will minimize the debt you take on while maximizing the assets you receive. Plus, the parenting plan and child support calculations are complex.
You want someone that is extremely good at what they do when such important things are on the line.
So back to the original question: how much is the divorce going to cost?
My answer is usually as much as you want to spend, but spending money now might save you a lot later.