The average cost to hire a divorce lawyer is roughly between $175 to $325 per hour. However, your costs may be higher or lower — it depends on several factors. For example, an uncontested divorce may cost less than a contested divorce.
Reach out to several divorce lawyers to find out how much they charge and what you can expect to pay.
Also read, “How much does a divorce cost?”
It’s important to spend an adequate amount of time researching and vetting several divorce attorneys before you hire one. Start by searching for top-rated lawyers near you, and read through their clients’ reviews. Get an idea of their reputation, how successful they are and how they set their pricing.
Make sure each attorney you’re considering is admitted to the bar in the state where your divorce could be adjudicated (ask your prospective lawyer first if you aren’t sure which state is right). And when you feel like you have a good list of potential divorce lawyers who can handle your case, contact them to get price estimates, their hourly rates and any other pricing terms.
A divorce lawyer handles negotiations regarding how assets are divided between spouses, as well as who assumes debts. The divorce lawyer can also help establish an agreement for child support and child custody between the spouses. All of this requires research and evidence gathering, as well as compiling and filing paperwork with the court that summarizes the evidence.
It’s unusual for divorce lawyers to work on contingency, where they receive an agreed-upon proportion of the awarded amount if and only if they win the case. It's much more common for lawyers to work on a retainer or on a fixed hourly fee. Always discuss the fees and payment options with lawyers you’re considering hiring.
You should hire a divorce attorney in situations where settlements are hard to reach between you and your spouse, or if you want to better understand your rights. This includes a wide range of complicated issues, with common examples being:
- Child custody and child support
- Debts owed
- Future assets like inheritance
- Current assets like houses, cars and valuables
You should hire an attorney if you and your spouse are having difficulty agreeing to terms on how to handle these issues.
Often, each spouse pays their own respective lawyer’s attorney fees and costs during a divorce. However, certain circumstances may lead to one party paying for the other’s legal fees.
Lawyers typically charge for their time (typically a hourly rate) regardless of whether they win a case. Sometimes, the losing party is ordered to pay the other party’s lawyer fees on top of their own. Some lawyers also work on contingency, meaning they will take a percentage of the awarded amount only if they successfully win the case.
Before hiring a lawyer, make sure you understand their fee structure.