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When considering a divorce, you have a multitude of factors to consider - whether you're ready for a divorce, what's best for the kids, how will property be divided - but one of the main concerns is cost. In fact, many people stay in a marriage solely because they don't know if they can afford to terminate their marriage, especially because the national average cost for a divorce is $15,000 - but what factors affect the cost? To give you the clarity you need to move forward, we're going to take an in-depth look at the fees involved in a divorce.
State Filing Fees
While every divorce is different, every divorce must be filed through the state, and every state charges filing fees. In North Carolina, the cost of filing for an absolute, or simple divorce, is $225. This does not include serving the other party with papers, which is $30, and, if you choose to return to your maiden name, this is an additional $10 fee.
The Fees for Working with a Divorce or Family Law Attorney
Even if you're choosing a simple divorce, having a divorce attorney ensures that you'll have an experienced ally on your side. Trying to navigate divorce on your own is complicated, and without counsel, you may lose out on what is rightfully yours. If you and your spouse own property, a business, or financial holdings, or you have children together, it's even more important to have legal representation.
Attorney fees vary widely. The type of divorce you will be getting in particular is the biggest variable. A simple divorce will be much less expensive than a collaborative divorce which will then be much less expensive than a contested divorce. Some attorneys charge a basic, flat rate for an absolute divorce to file the paperwork and make sure everything is in order.
For more complicated divorce cases, you will sit down with an attorney and discuss your case in detail, including your goals. Many divorce attorneys charge a retainer fee based on their hourly rates, which is like a down payment for legal services and is the estimate of how much it will cost the attorney to handle the case. The client will receive a contract which will outline the terms and what is covered in the retainer, such as administrative fees, court costs, expert advice, etc.
The retainer is then placed in a trust account and as they bill hours and fulfill services, those costs are pulled from the retainer. Typically, any money remaining is refunded, though if the case is more complex than the attorney initially thought, the client may have to pay additional fees. Clients receive monthly statements to see where the retainer is going and how much is left.
Hiring Experts to Assist in Your Divorce
In both collaborative and contested divorce, experts often are called in to consult. This could be a child psychologist to help in creating the best custody arrangement for a child's well being. Appraisers may be called in if the couple is discussing putting the house on the market and they need to determine a selling price. Most often, in cases of high net worth divorce or couples with complicated financial dealings, a financial analyst will be called to consult. While some attorneys may include these in their retainer, they are often separate fees.
Schedule a Consultation with a Divorce Attorney in Raleigh Today
While the cost of divorce may seem daunting, having legal counsel to guide you and act on your behalf can help ensure a more favorable outcome. To learn more about how we can assist you, reach out to our team today at (919) 301-8843 or fill out the form below to schedule a consultation.