When we first meet with prospective clients at our Fort Worth family law firm, we like to speak openly and honestly about divorce costs. The reality is that getting divorced usually costs thousands of dollars. You also get what you pay for—a great divorce attorney at an established law firm will cost you more than a less experienced lawyer at a small or one-person firm. So how much can you expect to pay? Let’s break it down.
Typical ‘starting’ costs for a Texas divorce
We can’t stress the word “starting” enough here because most people going through a divorce end up paying more as the case unfolds (more on that later). That’s why it’s important to prepare yourself mentally and financially if you want to get divorced.
If you have a contested child custody case, you’re generally looking at a minimum of $4,500 to start. When you have property and child custody concerns, you’re generally looking between $5,000 and $7,500 as a retainer for starters.
In most cases, that $5,000 to $7,500 will only get you through the temporary orders phase of the case. Starting costs can also escalate if you call or email your attorney excessively. Remember, divorce attorneys bill by the hour.
TIP: You can help keep hourly fees in check by compiling a list of questions and concerns and knocking out several items in a single, weekly call or email.
The cost of discovery and mediation phases in Texas divorce
You made it through the temporary orders phase—what’s next? The discovery phase follows, which is when you work on producing all of the documents and other evidence that is relevant to your case.
A lot of back and forth occurs between client and attorney during discovery, which generally adds up to an additional $2,000-3,000. If you have a large estate and a complex property division, which involves more documentation and evidence, this phase will cost you more.
The next phase is mediation, which is typically a required step in Texas divorces. Mediation generally takes about eight hours. For mediation, you will need to pay the mediator’s fee, which runs from $800 to $1,500 on average. It all depends on the mediator you hire, and some charge even more.
You’ll also have to pay for your divorce attorney’s time during mediation, so tack on eight hours times the attorney’s hourly fee. When it’s all said and done, the mediation phase typically ends up costing $2,000-3,000. If you don’t resolve your issues during mediation, you’ll have to go to trial, which will cost you more.
TIP: Most cases settle in mediation, so don’t press for a trial (and the additional costs associated with a trial) if you can avoid it.
Other costs you need to prepare for during a Texas divorce
Most of the work involved and hours billed in divorce cases occur behind the scenes. This includes getting your documents together, fleshing out the sworn inventory, preparing settlement negotiations, etc. These tasks don’t just happen overnight, and several people at the law firm may play a role.
You will also need to pay for any specialists or experts hired to help with your case. Think your spouse is a narcissist and want to schedule a psych eval? That’s going to cost you $3,000-4,000 and up. Other specialists may include asset tracers, business valuation experts, therapists, amicus attorneys, financial planners, social study evaluators, and so on. What you will end up paying all depends on the intricacies of your case.
Thinking about doing a DIY divorce online? Learn about the risks here.
Obviously, we can’t cover every divorce-related cost in this blog. However, a reputable divorce attorney in the county where you reside can help you flesh out the rest.
If you live in Tarrant County, Texas, the experienced family attorneys at our Fort Worth law firm are here for you. To schedule a confidential case review with our founder Justin Sisemore, call our office at 817.336.4444 or visit our contact page to schedule online.