Divorce costs vary widely based on where you live, how long you’ve been married, whether you’re filing for legal separation or divorce, and other factors. But generally speaking, if you’re seeking a court order ending your marriage, you’ll need to hire a lawyer and pay him or her a retainer fee. Depending on the state, you may also need to pay a filing fee. 

There are also many factors that can increase the cost of a divorce above and beyond the base amount. Some of these include ongoing legal fees, child custody disputes, alimony payments, property division, and other costs associated with ending a marriage. Here are five of the main reasons divorce costs may escalate.

  1. Unwillingness to negotiate. At Sandoval Family Law, we have been able to finalize divorce cases for under $2,500. In this type of scenario, both parties come to the table willing to negotiate and have done their homework ahead of time. However, if one or both spouses are unwilling to negotiate, this can draw out the length of the divorce process and increase costs.
  2. Lack of planning. In a divorce case you will likely have to divide assets and debts, so it’s important to start compiling documentation that shows what the current state of the assets and debts are. This can help the case move a bit quicker. If a couple comes to a divorce case with no conception of the state of their finances or what they want out of the divorce, this can lead to higher legal and court fees.
  3. Spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is one of the most common ways that spouses divide assets during a divorce. This type of court-ordered payment is usually made by one spouse to another as part of an agreement to end a relationship. It is called “maintenance” because it helps maintain a former partner’s standard of living after the divorce. Paying spousal maintenance will increase the cost of your divorce.
  4. Child support. If one spouse has custody of the children, child support payments are usually required. In Texas, child support payments are typically calculated using a percentage model. For one child, the child support payment is usually 20 percent of the obligor’s net monthly income. For each additional child, another 5 percent is added.
  5. Failing to hire a lawyer. It may not seem obvious, but hiring a family law attorney to represent you in your divorce case can actually save you money in the long run. An attorney can ensure you file all your paperwork on time and avoid late fees. A lawyer will also represent your interests in court and help you receive any payments you are owed while preventing you from getting the short end of the stick financially.