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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

What Is the Cost of a Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce

Illinois Divorce Attorney

Cost of a Divorce  

Divorce is also expensive. Court costs, lawyer fees and other expenses can add up quickly Below are some of the most common questions about the cost of divorce.

What costs are involved in divorce?

When you divorce your spouse, you may pay:

  • Attorney fees
  • Filing fees
  • Mediation expenses
  • Fees related to changing ownership of property (refinancing, title transfer, etc.)
  • Parent education class costs
  • Expert witness and subpoena fees
  • Appraisal fees

How much would it cost to get a divorce without a lawyer?

It may be possible to purchase a divorce kit on the internet and represent yourself for under $100. In this case, you will also need to pay any costs not included in this amount, such as the filing fee or the cost of parenting education classes. However, unless your divorce case is extremely simple and you are on very good terms with your spouse, choosing to represent yourself may not be the best decision.  

How much would it cost to get a divorce with a lawyer?

According to NOLO, consumers report paying an average of $15,500 to complete a divorce, with approximately $12,800 of this amount going toward attorney fees. Among consumers who went to trial in order to resolve one or more issues, the average cost increased to $19,600, with approximately $15,800 covering attorney fees. Conversely, consumers who were able to settle everything outside of court paid an average cost of only $14,500, with $12,200 going toward attorney fees.

What are lawyer fees based on?

Lawyer fees can vary considerably according to a number of different factors. Some of the factors that affect the fees lawyers charge include:

  • Fee structure. – Many attorneys ask for a retainer upfront and charge by the hour.  The hourly rates in Northern Illinois range from $275-$800+ depending on the skill level of the attorney involved and the complexity of the tasks required.   In addition, some attorneys use different fee structures for contested divorces and uncontested divorces.
  • Location. - Lawyers in some locations are more expensive than others. For example, lawyers in urban areas of Northern Illinois may charge more than those in rural areas.
  • Experience. - More experienced attorneys tend to have higher hourly rates than novice attorneys.

Your overall attorney fees will also depend on the complexity of your divorce and the amount of time your attorney spends working on the case. For example, if you and your spouse don't get along well and disagree on issues, your divorce will require more time and effort on the part of the attorney. This translates to higher overall expenses. On the other hand, if you are able to reach agreements quickly and settle most issues without a hearing or trial, your overall fees will be lower.

Do you need a lawyer to get a divorce?

The short answer is no.  You may represent yourself.  However, unless you are on good terms, have no children and own little to no assets together, getting a divorce without the help of an attorney may not be in your best interest. If you choose to represent yourself in a divorce case, you may lose more money than you would have paid for quality representation, especially if your spouse has a competent attorney.  

Can one lawyer represent both of you?

In Illinois, lawyers are prohibited from representing both sides of a case.  This is referred to as a conflict of interest.  If you plan on using one lawyer to get your divorce, keep in mind that the attorney can only represent one of you.  This means that the other spouse is left to fend for his- or herself when it comes to reviewing and signing documents, negotiating a fair settlement, and even appearing in court at a hearing.  It is rarely a good idea for only one party to be represented by an attorney.  

What advantage is there to getting a divorce with or without an attorney?

There are advantages to both representing yourself and hiring an attorney. If you choose to represent yourself in a divorce, you won't spend as much money on attorney fees.  If you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement on all issues associated with your case, you may be able to complete the divorce quickly and affordably. However, the problem in representing yourself is always that “you don’t know what you don’t know”.  Often, self-represented people fail to recognize an issue and, consequently cannot plan to prevent it from becoming a big problem.  Many times, our firm has been hired after-the-fact to “fix” mistakes made by people who represent themselves.  If they had hired an attorney in the first place, they would have had the benefit of the attorney's legal expertise to guide them through the process. The attorney can help you protect your interests and cost you less in the end.

If you are contemplating divorce, or if you or your spouse has already filed for divorce, contact Kathryn L. Harry & Associates to find out how you may benefit from professional legal representation. 


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