How Much Will My Divorce Cost?

One of the first questions I am asked when a potential client calls to discuss a new or pending divorce matter is, “How much will my case cost?”

So how much does the average divorce cost? The honest answer is it depends on the amount of work and time expended in order to complete your case. No matter what, every divorce in Michigan requires the preparation of the initial filing documents, paying court filing fees ($150.00 - $230.00), serving the spouse with paperwork, preparing the final judgment and going to court before the judge at least one time. Every divorce has these minimum required steps. What happens in your case in addition to the above will determine how much your divorce will cost overall. Here are the three most common types of divorce:

The “Easy” or “Uncontested” Divorce:

The “easy” or “uncontested” divorce only involves the minimum amount of work necessary. These cases generally involve one court appearance with the parties reaching an agreement on all issues in their case and signing a consent judgment of divorce almost immediately after filing for divorce. In all honesty, these divorces are rare. That being said, there are some couples who truly wish to move on with their lives and who agree that an amicable divorce is best. Thus, my job is to make sure that my client is aware of all of the marital assets and liabilities, knows what the judge in his or her case would likely do and assist my client in making informed decisions about his or her settlement. I will ensure that all the paperwork is drawn up properly and effectively to ensure that there are no problems post judgment and the divorce is wrapped up as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Most easy or uncontested divorces, inclusive of court costs and attorney fees, range from $1,600.00 - $2,200.00.

The “Average” Divorce:

The “average” divorce involves some contested issues that the parties work through with the assistance of counsel and/or mediator. However, ultimately the parties are able to resolve their case without proceeding to trial. If the parties cannot reach an agreement with the assistance of counsel, the court will have the parties and their attorneys participate in various settlement conferences, Friend of the Court hearings and mediation. In most cases, if mediation is necessary, attorney fees will likely exceed $3,000.00. Why? By the time the court orders the parties to complete mediation, the parties will have already been to court once, possibly twice, and it appears there is no settlement in sight. By that time, it is likely the attorneys in the case have engaged in numerous correspondences and have exchanged in discovery.

The “average” divorce where there are only a couple trips to court and the case is settled at mediation, the typical cost ranges from $3,000-$6,000.

The “Very Contentious” Divorce:

No one wants their divorce to be the expensive, contentious case. This type of divorce usually involves all of the steps in an average divorce case, plus more. It generally involves 5-6 trips to court with several motions being filed with Friend of the Court or heard by the Judge. Discovery is lengthy and may include depositions and multiple subpoenas. Refusing to disclose discovery, attempting to hide information, arguing over temporary parenting time and engaging in a custody battle are all types of behavior that will lead to a very contentious divorce. Unfortunately, all it takes is one party who is acting unreasonably in order for your divorce to become contentious. If your spouse is unreasonable, it will be necessary to respond and file motions appropriately to ensure your rights are protected.

If personal protection orders have been filed, if Child Protective Services has conducted an investigation, or if emergency motions are needed; these actions are all signs that your case could be very contentious. Very contentious divorces often involve one party who has unrealistic expectations about how their divorce should be finalized. Often times, these cases will proceed to trial.

Most very contentious divorces cost approximately $8,000.00 and up.