According to USA Today, the average divorce in Florida without children costs $13,500, and the average cost of divorce in Florida with children is $20,300. Attorneys’ fees make up a large portion of the cost of divorce because the average hourly rate for attorneys in Florida is $295.
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How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Florida?
Florida divorce cost is hard to calculate precisely, even for experienced lawyers. However, it can be approximated based on a few factors such as whether:
- There are marital property or debts.
- You have children under 18.
- Either you or your spouse is asking for alimony.
- There is an agreement on all of the above.
- You will hire a lawyer.
The main factor among the abovementioned is the ability of spouses to reach an agreement. Divorce prices in Florida will be significantly lower for couples who compromise than those taking their issues to court.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost in Florida?
There are only two conditions you should meet to get an uncontested divorce in Florida – meet the state’s residency requirements and be in complete agreement concerning child custody and support, visitation, alimony, and property division. The most significant advantage of uncontested marriage dissolution is that it can be obtained without a lawyer.
The cost of uncontested divorce in Florida is:
- Under $500 if you complete the paperwork yourself and file without a lawyer.
- Under $650 if you get online help with the paperwork and filing instructions to file without an attorney.
- Around $3,000-$5,000 if a lawyer takes care of everything.
The filing fee for divorce in Florida is around $408-$409, and it’s paid directly to the court when you file the paperwork. There may be additional minor fees for copy-making, and some counties might charge you about $12-15 for self-representation.
If your income makes the payment of a filing fee a considerable burden on your finances, you may file the Application for Determination of Indigent Status. The court will review it to determine whether the fees should be waived in your case.
It is also necessary to account for the service process when calculating the cost to file for divorce in Florida. If you do not have a lawyer who would complete it for you, it would be necessary to hire a process server or ask a county sheriff to serve your spouse for an extra fee, usually around $50-$100.
If you get a lawyer, they will complete and file the paperwork for you and guide you through the divorce process. Some couples hire family attorneys just because they are afraid of dealing with the legal forms and the filing process on their own and have no idea how it goes.
However, there is a cheaper alternative for uncontested cases – online services that choose and fill out the paperwork for spouses and provide them with filing instructions to initiate and finalize their marriage dissolution.
How Much Does a Contested Divorce Cost in Florida?
The cost of a contested divorce in Florida typically ranges from $5,000 to $30,000. While the average price is $13,500, for couples with children, it may exceed $20,000. The range is broad, and there is no limit to the potential expenses you might incur. A lot will depend on:
- Hourly fee of your lawyer.
- Length of the proceedings.
- Your and your spouse’s willingness to compromise.
Getting a divorce in Florida when you cannot agree on at least one aspect of your marriage dissolution is extremely expensive. You may avoid getting into a contested case by trying to reach an agreement with your spouse on assets, finances, and childcare. Mediators and consulting attorneys may help you compromise on certain decisions if you are experiencing communication issues.
When you understand that your case will be contested, you have to hire a lawyer familiar with a Florida divorce process. It is crucial to choose a person you are comfortable working with, as the proceedings will last for at least 6 months, and around a year in the best-case scenario. On average, the hourly rate of Florida lawyers is $300.
You will likely need to hire other experts to examine your family and financial situations and give testimonies in court:
- A forensic accountant to inspect whether your spouse engaged in any fraudulent activities with their finances. Such a professional charges anywhere from $300 to $500 per hour.
- A child custody evaluator to recommend a custody arrangement that would be in the best interest of your kids. Evaluators charge between $4,500 and $15,000, and while such expenses may be split equally between the spouses, the amount you will have to pay is still staggering.
- A real estate assessor to determine the price of the property you own. They will likely request around $400-700 per unit depending on the size, location, and urgency.
Factors that Affect the Cost of a Florida Divorce
Why is divorce expensive? In most cases, because of lawyer’s fees. However, what makes them high is the length of your proceedings, as lawyers are paid hourly. Therefore, what you should be looking at when considering how to cut the costs is what can potentially prolong the divorce.
Having Property Division Issues
One of the most common property-related questions is “Who gets the house in a divorce?” If you have children, most likely, it’s going to be a person with primary custody over them. If you have none, other factors will come into play. Overall, there is no way to answer this question or any other one concerning your property without knowing much about your case. Even your lawyer will only tell you about the likelihood of you getting certain estate without saying you will or will not for sure.
Florida is a common law state and also a no-fault one. This means that the judge will not consider adultery or similar “marital faults” when making decisions on property division and will be inclined to make such a division fair rather than equal. Therefore, your lawyer will have to gather enough evidence to prove that it would be fair for you to get the house or any other piece of an estate if this is the outcome you desire, and it is going to take a while.
If you do not want to take this issue to court, your lawyer may propose a divorce property settlement detailing the property division terms to your spouse and their lawyer. After some negotiation and, likely, the redrafting of the agreement, you may be able to settle and reduce the length of your divorce by months, consequently dropping the costs.
Having Minor Children
The cost of divorce in Florida with a child raises significantly if the spouses engage in a child custody battle or one of them refuses to pay child support. In such cases, judges make the decision that would be in the child’s best interests.
To determine what those are, however, they need to get credible information on the current family situation, children’s wellbeing, social circle, and relationship with parents, as well as financial abilities of each parent. While the latter will be evident from the financial statements, the judge will likely request a custody evaluator to assess the other aspects and provide a recommendation.
Parents will have to pay extra for the evaluator and, likely, the court-ordered counseling, as it is often requested by judges in the state when spouses have children. In the end, such expenses will amount to thousands of dollars on top of lawyer’s fees.
Having a Dispute Over Alimony
Do you have to pay alimony, or do you qualify to receive it? If you and your spouse cannot agree on the need for spousal support, the amount, or the duration of payments, a judge will be the one to decide. In general, the longer the marriage, the more likely the alimony is to be granted to a spouse at a bigger financial disadvantage due to family dynamics, disabilities, or other factors.
As there are different types of alimony that vary in sums and durations, it will take time to determine the reasonable one to request and find enough reasons to support the need for it. Even when a judge is convinced that spousal support is needed, the length and the amount often become major reasons for a court battle.
How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost in Florida?
Florida divorce attorney fees are around $295 on average and typically range between $260 and $330 as per the recent studies. Before taking the case, lawyers usually request an upfront payment – a retainer, which is used to cover their legal services over a certain period of time.
What is the average retainer fee for a divorce lawyer? In general, it is between $2,000 and $5,000. If your case is contested, there will be multiple retainers and, potentially, bigger initial sums for an attorney to draw money from as they are working.
The cost of a family law attorney depends on the location, professional experience, and specifics of your case. Lawyers will typically charge more if you have property, joint accounts, and children.