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Tennessee divorce costs and how to get them down a little

If you want to save money on your divorce, the first thing you need to do is try to educate yourself about the process and learn about your options.

Somewhat like weddings, there are divorces than can be handled for only a little more than the filing costs — and there are divorces you could still be paying off a decade after its over. There are also a lot of options in between.

What type of expenses should you expect in Tennessee?

  • While it varies from county to county, you can expect to pay under $500 for court fees, filing fees and service by the local sheriff.
  • However, the average attorney charges around $240 per hour — so unless you file pro se — without an attorney — your costs can get high very quickly.
  • The average total cost in attorneys’ fees is $9,900. If kids are involved, it’s almost double that.
  • A $5,000 retainer — what you need to give the attorney just to get started — is not unreasonable.

However, you can get those figures down and stay under that retainer:

  • Ask your attorney if he or she uses paralegals for basic questions. If so, that’s a good thing. It costs more to talk to your attorney over every little thing.
  • Find out if your attorney will usually try to negotiate by phone with the other attorney or just automatically file a motion instead. Motions are more expensive than informal consultations by phone.
  • See if your attorney practices any type of collaborative law. If you can get your spouse to sit down and talk over things rationally, you may be able to agree on most or all issues — leaving much less to fight about in court and making an overall shorter court battle.

When you’re considering how to handle the divorce and whether or not an attempt at a collaborative divorce is worth it, keep in mind that the debt you walk away carrying from this divorce can affect your life in a lot of ways. Not only is it a burden, it can lower your credit score, keep you from buying a home and otherwise set back your goals. That certainly makes a collaborative divorce attempt seem worth it!

An attorney can provide more information on collaborative divorce so you can decide if it is the right choice for you.

Source:, “The many costs of divorce,” Linda Bryant, accessed Sep. 20, 2017