Getting a divorce can be an extremely overwhelming process. It is physically, emotionally, and often financially draining. While every divorce is different with many factors that go into fees and other expenses, you can guarantee there will be some level of cost incurred from both parties – at minimum, the cost to file.

What Factors Impact How Much A Divorce Will Cost?

The cost of getting a divorce is heavily impacted on the means you choose to take. If you have no children and very little marital assets or if you agree with your spouse on everything involved in the details of the divorce including custody and support, you could be a good “do it yourself” candidate. While a “DIY” divorce is going to be the cheapest route (as little as the cost of filing: $250-$400 in Louisiana), be sure to consider all the elements and make sure you have the time to research your state’s laws to ensure proper documentation and proper court filing processes for your divorce settlement.

More often than not, a lawyer is utilized throughout the divorce process. Hiring a lawyer is an additional expense but is the best way to protect your interests in a divorce. Believe it or not, getting a divorce is one of the most complex and emotional legal processes within family law. An attorney can explain your rights and be your advocate inside and outside the courtroom. So, what are the expenses when it comes to getting a divorce with the assistance of a divorce attorney? Below are several factors that play into the overall expense.

  1. Contested or Uncontested. In a contested divorce, both parties are unable to agree on either getting divorced or some aspect of the terms of the divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on everything and do not need the court to divide assets or make decisions on things such as allocation of debts, alimony, child support or custody. An uncontested divorce is much quicker and less complicated, making it less expensive. The more you and your spouse can agree on, particularly major issues, the cheaper the cost of your divorce will likely be. It is very common for couples to start out the divorce process of a contested divorce and reach an agreement called a settlement.
  2. Hourly rates versus a retainer fee. Divorce attorney fees are typically dependent upon certain circumstances so having a clear understanding of how they charge is an important factor in estimating the overall expense of your divorce. For example, an attorney may charge a flat retainer fee for an uncontested divorce and an hourly rate for a contested divorce. There may even be provisions that state fees will be switched to hourly if at any point an uncontested divorce becomes contested. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 – $400 an hour for an attorney in Louisiana.
  3. Court Costs & Local Filing Fees.
  4. Mediation. If you and your spouse turn to mediation through the process, fees for mediation services should be taken into consideration.
  5. Child Custody. If there are children involved, costs are likely increased due to additional agreements needing to be reached regarding child support, custody, custody evaluations, and visitation. If you would like to also consider the costs incurred after the divorce is finalized, view our post on how to estimate child support costs.

The average total cost of a divorce in Louisiana is between $12,600 and $18,900 (the higher end of the spectrum involving custody agreements). This includes attorneys’ fees, court costs, and any assistance needed from an outside expert such as tax advisers, child custody evaluators, real estate appraisers, etc.  Ultimately, the more you can agree on in advance, the cheaper your divorce will be. If you are looking to spend the bare minimum on your divorce, DIY is a great option if you are able to agree on all terms. If you are unable to agree, your next cheapest route will be mediation. If neither of these work, hiring a divorce attorney with the goal of settlement prior to trial is the way to go.

If you need a divorce attorney in Louisiana, contact Emily Latiolais to see if she is a good fit for your personal needs. Emily Latiolais provides strong and compassionate counsel and will work with you to find the best solution for your situation. Emily is skilled in Family Law including but not limited to divorce, custody, child support, modifications, community property & protective orders.