How Much Does A Divorce Lawyer Cost?

When addressing the question, “how much does a divorce lawyer cost,” the answer isn’t straightforward. Each situation is very different, and expenses depend on the circumstances of your divorce. There is no for-sure cost, but the average in Washington State is $10,000 or more.

The expenses related to divorce are not just limited to the divorce attorney fee, so you should keep that in mind. Your attorney may wrap these expenses into their overall charges. So, how much does a divorce lawyer cost?

How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost?

When figuring the costs associated with hiring an attorney to handle your divorce, you want to consider the different ways an attorney may charge you.

Hourly Rates

What is the average cost of a divorce lawyer? To answer that, you need to know the average hourly rate, which is about $250. The lower end is around $200. On the higher end, the rates run from $300 to $400.

Newer and inexperienced attorneys will charge on the lower end of the spectrum, while those with a lot of experience will charge higher rates. Attorneys specializing in complex cases will also charge more.

Flat Fees

Flat fees are not as standard of a way for a lawyer to charge, but you may run across this. For an attorney who charges a flat price, it usually depends on whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce. Contested divorces will take more time, so they cost more.

Do keep in mind that if you pay a flat fee, it may not cover everything. The flat rate will generally cover the basics, and anything extra will result in additional bills you have to pay.

Consultation Fees

A consultation fee is something you pay to speak with an attorney for the first time to get an idea of whether they can take your case. Many lawyers will not charge you for this. They only start charging when you become a client, but it is usually the attorney’s hourly rate if you do have this charge.

Note that when a lawyer charges for a consultation, it usually means they will offer you legal advice and do some actual work on your case. So, it will be much more than a simple meet-and-greet situation.

Retainer Fees

Your attorney may charge you retainer fees, which will cover services with an upfront payment. The retainer fee usually is an estimate of what the initial necessary actions will cost.

What is the average retainer fee for a divorce lawyer? The answer depends on the average hourly charge. 

What Do Lawyer Costs Cover?

Generally speaking, the charge from your attorney pays for their time spent doing work on your case. This time could include:

  • Phone calls with you 
  • Research
  • Completing paperwork
  • Time in court

You may also pay for the time it takes your lawyer to travel to the courthouse and wait for the judge to be ready. Your attorney may file the paperwork for you and take care of the filing fee the court charges. Then, they will add it to your bill. The fee in Washington is a flat that changes from time to time but is currently $314.

In addition, once you file, you have to serve your spouse with the paperwork. So, your attorney may handle this but charge you for the delivery services.

Other additional costs that your attorney may cover upfront and bill you for include appraisals and other costs associated with valuing your marital property to prepare for the division of assets.

Cost of an Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is one where you and your spouse reach an agreement outside of court and do not require a trial. So, how much does a divorce cost if both parties agree? It is much cheaper than the alternative.

When you agree on the terms of your divorce, it reduces the amount of time you need your attorney, which saves you money. You can expect to pay about $5,000 less.

Cost of a Contested Divorce

A contested divorce requires going to court and spending time in front of a judge. It can drag out the whole process, thus requiring a lot more of your lawyer’s time. For this reason, you could spend upwards of $20,000 for a divorce.

How to Choose a Divorce Attorney

You can ensure you get the most for your money by choosing the right divorce attorney. Make sure to read up on how to find a good divorce lawyer.

Research Attorneys Online

One of the best sources to find an attorney is the internet. Go online and see who is available in your area. Read their website, and get to know them. Choose a few who stand out to you.

Check Credentials and Licensing

Make sure to do a background check. Find out as much as you can to ensure you hire an attorney you can trust and who can handle your case efficiently and effectively.

Read Client Reviews

Past clients will tell you honestly what to expect. Look for an attorney who has a good relationship with past clients. Their reputation will show they are easy to work with and good at the job.

Schedule a Consultation and Ask Questions

Once you have one or two attorneys you like, schedule a consultation. You’ll want to have a list of questions to ask a divorce lawyer to give you insight into what it will be like to work with them and how they will handle your case.

How to Save Money on Divorce Lawyer Fees

You can save money by handling certain things yourself, such as filing the papers, or reaching an agreement with your spouse, and avoiding the need to go to trial. Generally, the more complex it is and the longer the time it takes to finalize your divorce, the more money you can expect to spend.

Mediation or Collaborative Divorce

Mediation or a collaborative divorce helps create an uncontested situation, which you already know will save you money.

Do-It-Yourself Divorce

You can file and handle your own divorce using resources you find online or elsewhere. The key is to make sure you understand the legal aspects to avoid trouble with the judge.

Wrapping Up

So, how much does a divorce lawyer cost? Various aspects go into figuring what a lawyer will charge. In most cases, you can expect to pay an attorney 200 to 400 dollars per hour. Depending on your divorce situation, these fees can be higher or lower. Contact Skyview Law for divorce lawyers in Washington State. 

Jarrod Hays

Jarrod Hays

Jarrod Hays is the founder of Skyview Law. He is licensed to practice law in Washington State and the Western District of Washington State Federal Court.