When most people think about divorce, they focus on the emotional cost to everyone involved. When you are contemplating divorce, however, you will also need to consider the actual financial cost of divorce. Because every divorce is unique, there is no way to determine ahead of time exactly what that cost will be, though there are some expenses that occur in most divorces. There is no doubt that a divorce can be expensive. If you find yourself wondering “How much does a divorce cost?” you may wish to sit down and estimate those common expenses to give yourself some idea what your divorce will cost.
Who Pays for a Divorce?
Determining how much a divorce will cost is, of course, important; however, determining who will pay for the divorce is equally important. The spouse who initiates the divorce by filing the Complaint with the appropriate court will be responsible for paying the filing fee. After that, each party is responsible for his/her expenses. In some cases, however, a court may order a higher-earning spouse to contribute to the attorney fees of the lesser earning spouse. This is not something that is guaranteed and you should not incur attorney fees based on the expectation that your spouse will have to pay them.
Filing Fees and Related Expenses
When a party commences any type of litigation, a filing fee must be paid to the Clerk of Court. The amount of the filing fee can vary considerably from one jurisdiction to another and based on the type of case you are filing. In Rutherford County, Tennessee, the filing fee for a divorce without children was $289.50 and a divorce with children was $364.50 as of 2018. You may also incur expenses once the discovery process begins for things such as a court reporter for depositions or copying fees for a voluminous request for production of documents. If the divorce is contested, you could also find yourself paying for expert testimony fees or even a private investigator.
The amount you will pay in attorney fees is very difficult to estimate without consulting an attorney and providing some important details. Divorces are typically handled using an hourly fee arrangement, though charging a flat fee for a simple uncontested divorce is becoming more popular. With a flat fee, the attorney charges a set fee, discussed at the beginning of the case. An hourly fee arrangement involves providing the lawyer with a retainer fee, from which time spent on the case is billed in hourly increments at a set hourly fee. The amount your divorce will ultimately cost using an hourly fee arrangement will depend on several factors, including:
- Experience – the level of experience an attorney has is almost always a factor when it comes to attorney fees. A well-established lawyer with an excellent reputation in family law cases is clearly going to charge more per hour than a lawyer just starting his/her practice.
- Grounds – like most states, Tennessee offers both fault and no-fault grounds in a divorce. If you allege fault grounds when you file the divorce, those grounds must ultimately be proven, typically requiring more work on the part of the attorney. Consequently, it may cost more to pursue a divorce based on one of the 15 fault grounds available in Tennessee.
- How contentious is the divorce? – if you and your spouse appear to want an amicable divorce and have no contested issues, it will be less work for the attorney and, therefore, less costly as a general rule. If the parties appear to be headed for a contentious divorce, that means more work for the attorney and, consequently, it will cost significantly more in attorney fees.
- Children or no children –you can typically expect to pay more for a divorce that involves children than for one that doesn’t involve minor children, even if the divorce is amicable because there are additional steps that must be taken when children are involved.
- Value of assets – marital assets and debts must be divided in a divorce. When the parties have considerable assets that are valuable and complex, dividing them will require additional work which equates to additional fees.
Contact a Tennessee Divorce Lawyer
If you are contemplating divorce in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Tennessee divorce lawyer to discuss the cost of your divorce. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.