What does a divorce really cost?
The answer to that question only partially depends on how complicated the divorce actually is — the other big factor may be your attorney’s willingness to explore economic alternatives.
On average, a Tennessee divorce costs $12,600, with about $9,900 of that figure going toward attorneys’ fees. The hourly billing rate for an attorney in the state is $240 — but that varies widely according to location and expertise. Divorces with children cost, on average, $18,900. If alimony or property division is involved, you can expect the cost to be around $17,700.
The real costs that add up, however, come from expectations that clients sometimes have of their attorneys — ones that they don’t realize will actually hit them heaviest in the wallet.
How can you keep your attorney fees down? Follow this guide.
— Discuss the fee structure upfront. Don’t be uncomfortable bringing up the topic — it’s a necessary part of doing business. Most attorneys will want to ask questions about what’s going to involved in the divorce in order to assess the complexity of the issues. That helps them set a retainer fee, which is paid upfront.
— Ask your attorney for a monthly statement that shows how the retainer is being depleted. That help you stay conscious of the need to pay your attorney more money — and it can keep you conscious of the small things that are making your bill bigger.
— Don’t demand that your attorney answer every call. Your attorney will bill you for that time. If the secretary or paralegal can answer the question, you don’t need the attorney to give you a personal answer.
— Put your children first. The more conscious you are of how your divorce is affecting your children, the less likely you are to be contentious toward your ex, struggling for dominance.
— Sometimes finding an attorney who has a reputation for being aggressive and comes out hitting hard can help you settle cases much quicker. While an attorney with a good reputation may be more expensive, you can most of the time save money in the end with decreased litigation and better settlement terms. If the other side realizes that you have chosen counsel wisely and that your attorney knows his or her way around the Court room, your odds at settling at mediation significantly increase.
For more information on how our firm can help you wade through the waters of divorce, including the often difficult task of dividing up your assets, please visit our page.