In the state of Texas, if you are considering a divorce – or if your spouse decides on a divorce – what’s it going to cost you? Without particular details, it’s impossible to estimate what divorce will cost, but keep reading, and we’ll look briefly at the factors that influence and determine the cost of a divorce. We’ll also examine several of the ways that cost can be reduced.
In Addison, Irving, and throughout the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, anyone who is considering or anticipating a divorce will need to consult an experienced Dallas divorce attorney who can discuss your divorce options and explain how the cost of your divorce will be calculated.
Spouses who are divorcing can exercise some control over the cost if they can cooperate. In fact, as a rule of thumb, the more divorcing spouses can agree upon, the more they can save. When both sides are concerned about the cost, an “uncontested” divorce is probably the best option – although very few couples in Texas will qualify.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR AN “UNCONTESTED” DIVORCE IN TEXAS?
Couples may obtain what Texas law calls an uncontested divorce only if they have no minor (under age 18) children together, are not seeking alimony or filing for bankruptcy, and have no properties or retirement benefits to divide. While not many couples will qualify for this type of divorce, the rule of thumb still applies. When divorcing partners cooperate, they save; when they fail to cooperate, divorce costs more.
Reaching mutual agreements really is the only way to substantially reduce the cost of a divorce in Texas. Parents with minor children should also understand that it sometimes takes a great deal of time, effort, and legal skill to resolve child custody and child support disputes – time and effort that’s not required if parents can agree or if the divorcing spouses have no minor children.
The reality is that in the majority of divorce cases, some type of dispute is central to the case. If everything is disputed, more hours are required. Each contested issue – whether it’s child custody, child support, alimony, or who gets the family’s Labrador Retriever – raises the cost of the divorce.
WHAT ELSE CAN ADD TO THE COST OF A DIVORCE?
Discovery requests, subpoenas, depositions, interrogatories, and transcripts all add to the cost of a divorce, and if a divorce trial is necessary, in some cases, it can be quite costly. When a divorcing couple is affluent, with multiple investments and properties or a family business, a divorce will cost more than a divorce will cost a modest working couple who rent an apartment with no property or children and little in savings.
Even when the divorcing partners have no argument over their properties, assets, and debts, if the couple is affluent, with considerable assets and properties, the process takes time. If one partner suspects the other is concealing assets, the suspicion must be investigated. But when divorcing partners can agree regarding the division of properties, assets, and debts, they’ll pay less than couples who cannot agree.
Texas allows the spouse who files for the divorce to pursue either a “no-fault” divorce or a “fault” divorce. In a no-fault divorce, neither partner is required to demonstrate that the other did anything wrong or is “at-fault.” A fault divorce is going to cost more, as explained below, but there can be good reasons for seeking a fault divorce rather than a no-fault divorce.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE SEEK A “FAULT” DIVORCE?
In a fault divorce, one spouse alleges the other is responsible for the divorce based on adultery, abandonment, insanity, cruelty or abuse, or a lengthy imprisonment for a criminal conviction. In fault divorces, Texas courts will take adultery into account when deciding on alimony awards, and alimony can be denied to spouses who have had affairs. That’s the reason why some spouses in Texas seek a fault divorce.
However, if you seek a fault divorce and accuse your spouse of adultery, your attorney will probably need to hire a private investigator to find the evidence of that adultery. As you might imagine, private investigators cost a few dollars. If you are the spouse filing for divorce, you’ll want to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a fault divorce vs. a no-fault divorce when you first consult a Dallas divorce attorney.
WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE “AVERAGE” COST OF A TEXAS DIVORCE?
The popular legal website Lawyers.com recently surveyed its visitors from Texas – including divorce attorneys – to determine the “average” cost of a divorce in our state. The figure itself isn’t that helpful to know. According to Lawyers.com, the average cost of a divorce in Texas is $15,600. That amount is about 20 percent higher than the figure for the national average, which according to Lawyers.com is $12,800.
The website also reported that the average hourly rate charged by divorce lawyers in Texas is $300, but that figure varies substantially depending on a divorce lawyer’s years of experience and geographical location. As you might imagine, a divorce in Addison, Fort Worth, or Dallas will cost more than the same divorce in a county that’s rural and sparsely populated.
WHAT ELSE GOES INTO THE COST OF DIVORCE?
When expert witnesses are required in a divorce, or when the services of child custody evaluators, property appraisers, or financial experts are needed – you guessed it – they have to be compensated. There’s a fee attached to every motion that is filed and every document that is subpoenaed.
That’s why cooperation is imperative between divorcing spouses who want to keep down the cost of their divorce. It’s the disputes that generate the need for private investigators, expert witnesses, discovery motions, and subpoenas. Most of that cost can be avoided if both sides determine to cooperate and to try to achieve mutual compromises.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FINALIZE A TEXAS DIVORCE?
The Lawyers.com survey also tells us that the “average” divorce in Texas takes slightly more than a year, with most divorces taking between seven and nineteen months to resolve. Obviously, the more issues that are in dispute, the longer a divorce will take – and the more it will cost the divorcing spouses.
Most family law attorneys in this state are willing to work with clients, and most of them offer several types of payment plans. If you are thinking about divorce, get the facts. Talk with an experienced Dallas divorce attorney about your rights, options, alternatives, and the cost of divorce.