How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Texas?

Last Updated on February 1, 2024 by Benson Varghese

Cost of divorce in Texas

A recent USA Today article puts the average cost of divorce in Texas without children at $15,600, and the average cost of a divorce with children in Texas at $23,500 which puts Texas fifth in the nation on the list for most expensive divorces.

Fortunately, the cost of a divorce is something the parties have a significant ability to control and some divorces can be finalized for much less than the state average. Conversely, as you plan your divorce, you may decide that spending more in some areas is a justifiable expense based on your goals. Ultimately, by educating yourself through this article, you can exercise control over the cost drivers in a divorce.

Divorce Process in Texas

Understanding the factors that influence these costs can empower you to make informed decisions throughout your divorce process. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the factors affecting the cost of a divorce in Texas, strategies to control these costs, and an overview of the potential financial range you might encounter.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Divorce

Complexity of Assets and Custody Issues

Divorces involving complex assets or contested child custody can significantly increase costs. The division of businesses, real estate, or retirement accounts requires meticulous analysis and sometimes appraisals or expert testimony.

Level of Conflict

Amicable separations where both parties agree on major issues like asset division, child custody, and spousal support are usually less costly. High-conflict cases, where agreements are hard to reach, lead to prolonged litigation and higher costs.

Attorney Expertise and Fees

Experienced attorneys may charge more, but their expertise can be invaluable, especially in complex cases. Hourly rates in Texas vary, and understanding your attorney’s fee structure is crucial. Most attorneys’ fees in Texas range from $300 an hour to $750 an hour.

Court Costs and Additional Fees

Filing fees, costs for serving documents, and fees for mediators or expert witnesses contribute to the overall cost.

Strategies to Control Divorce Costs

  1. Consider Mediation or Collaborative Divorce: These alternative dispute resolution methods can resolve issues outside of court, significantly reducing legal fees and court costs.
  2. Limit Disputes: The more issues you and your spouse can agree on, the fewer resources you’ll need to spend on legal battles.
  3. Organize Your Documents: Being prepared with financial statements, property deeds, and other relevant documents can reduce the time your attorney needs to spend on your case.
  4. Communicate Efficiently with Your Lawyer: Time is money. Consolidate your questions and concerns to make communication with your lawyer more efficient.

Factors That Can Drive Up Costs

  1. Extended Court Time: Prolonged litigation or multiple court appearances can quickly escalate costs.
  2. Extensive Discovery and Expert Witnesses: In cases requiring detailed financial analysis or custody evaluations, the costs for these professionals can add up.
  3. Post-Judgment Litigation: Actions to modify or enforce the court’s judgment can significantly extend your legal expenses.

How expensive or lengthy the divorce process may be for each individual depends on a number of factors. One of the most critical factors in estimating the cost of your divorce depends on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.

What Costs Are Involved in a Divorce in Texas?

Throughout both contested and uncontested divorces, there are costs along the way. Some of the expenses that arise during and after divorce include:

  • Attorney’s fees and expenses
  • Court filing fees
  • Hiring a process server
  • Mediators or consulting attorneys

Types of Attorney Fees

Hiring an attorney is one of the most expensive aspects of a divorce, but the amount of attorney’s fees varies based on a number of factors. Keep in mind that attorneys generally cannot represent family law clients on a contingency fee basis, so they will usually charge either an hourly or a flat rate. If the rate is hourly, then the amount of time the divorce takes will greatly impact how much a divorce costs in Texas.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce Costs

If the divorce is uncontested, the attorney has much less to do, which means they will charge for fewer hours. Apart from drafting paperwork, reviewing agreements, and attending hearings, the role of the attorney is much less involved than in a contested divorce. Meanwhile, a contested divorce requires a lot more back-and-forth and a lot more hours of attorney’s fees. Between filing motions, attending hearings, engaging in discovery, and representing the client in negotiations and at trial, the attorney’s fees may begin to add up.

Anticipating Costs in Contested Divorce

A contested divorce occurs when spouses cannot agree on certain important aspects of the divorce. In some cases, one spouse may not want to get divorced at all. In other cases, a spouse may disagree about how much child support they owe, how property should be divided, who gets custody of minor children, and other important matters. A contested divorce tends to be more expensive than an uncontested divorce, simply because it takes longer and requires the settlement of these disputes.

Filing for a Contested Divorce in Texas

To file for a contested divorce in Texas, one spouse needs to file an original petition for divorce and state the grounds for divorce. The spouse must then have the documents legally served on the other spouse so they are aware that the divorce has been filed and know that they must file a response. Service must be performed by a process server or law enforcement officer.

Divorce Hearings in Texas

The spouses must then participate in hearings, such as a temporary order hearing, at which they present evidence to convince the judge of how the spouses should be behaving during the divorce. For example, according to Sec. 6-501-502 of the Texas Family Code, temporary orders can include temporary child support or custody orders, temporary restraining orders, or temporary spousal maintenance orders, among others.

Divorce Negotiations and Settlements

During the divorce, the spouses should be trying to reach a compromise as much as possible, which means that there is likely going to be ongoing settlement negotiations or mediations. The goal of a settlement is to avoid an expensive divorce trial, but unfortunately, sometimes issues cannot be agreed upon. If the case must go to trial, this means that the spouses are out of options, and a judge will need to make the final determinations based on evidence.

This can become a lengthy process, which is why contested divorces can be quite expensive in the long run.

Uncontested divorces tend to be shorter and easier to resolve. If both parties agree to get divorced, then the process is a bit more streamlined. One spouse will file the original petition for divorce, but in an uncontested divorce, the other spouse can simply waive their right to service pursuant to Sec. 6-4035 of the Texas Family Code.

Uncontested Divorce Process in Divorce

An uncontested divorce eliminates the need for the filing spouse to hire a process server. Because there is no need for settlement negotiations, mediations, or trial, the spouses in an uncontested divorce can simply fill out a divorce decree and submit it to the court to be finalized. Although there is a 60-day waiting period, this tends to go much more quickly than a contested divorce. After the waiting period is over, a judge will issue a final decree of divorce, and the process is complete.

Why Uncontested Divorces Are Not Always Optimal For Certain Spouses

Uncontested divorces, although they seem like the better option, are not right for everyone. Do not try to file for an uncontested divorce if you or your spouse disagree about custody, property division, or spousal maintenance. Generally, uncontested divorces are difficult for spouses with minor children or disabled children as well. If any of these factors are at play in your divorce, consider going the contested divorce route.

 

Do I Need to Hire a Divorce Attorney?

Knowing that a divorce attorney is expensive often dissuades people from hiring one, instead opting to handle their divorce on their own. It is important to remember what is at stake in a divorce, however. Divorce means dividing all of your marital property, dividing parenting time, and possibly even paying child support or spousal maintenance. Investing in a Texas divorce lawyer to do it right may make the difference in whether you get to live in your house, spend time with your children, or keep control of your business, among many others. The consequences of a poorly negotiated divorce can be life-altering. Consider consulting with a Texas family lawyer before attempting to handle your divorce solo.

Contact Our Experienced Fort Worth Divorce Attorneys for a Consultation

A divorce in Texas can cost a considerable amount of financial resources. Hiring an attorney may add cost to a divorce, but it helps eliminate some of the risk that you lose out on what’s most important to you. Contact the compassionate and experienced family law attorneys at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group at (817) 900-3220 or send us a message online to speak with a dedicated Texas family lawyer.

How does the cost of a divorce in Texas Compare to Other States? 

According to the data published by USAToday and compiled in this chart, as of 2020, Texas had the fifth highest average cost of divorce both with or without children. According to data compiled by LawPay, Texas ranks 10th for average hourly rate for lawyers. In metropolitan areas in Texas, you should expect to pay between $300 to $750 an hour based on your attorney’s experience and expertise.

State Avg. Cost without Children Avg. Cost with Children
Alabama $12,500.00 $18,800.00
Alaska $13,100.00 $19,600.00
Arizona $13,000.00 $19,500.00
Arkansas $11,100.00 $16,700.00
California $17,500.00 $26,300.00
Colorado $14,500.00 $21,700.00
Connecticut $15,500.00 $23,300.00
Delaware $16,200.00 $24,300.00
Florida $13,500.00 $20,300.00
Georgia $14,700.00 $22,000.00
Hawaii $11,700.00 $17,500.00
Idaho $11,200.00 $16,800.00
Illinois $13,800.00 $20,700.00
Indiana $11,400.00 $1,710.00
Iowa $11,700.00 $17,600.00
Kansas $10,900.00 $16,400.00
Kentucky $10,200.00 $15,300.00
Louisiana $12,600.00 $18,900.00
Maine $11,100.00 $16,700.00
Maryland $14,000.00 $21,000.00
Massachusetts $15,900.00 $23,900.00
Michigan $12,900.00 $19,400.00
Minnesota $11,400.00 $21,300.00
Mississippi $11,000.00 $16,500.00
Missouri $13,500.00 $20,200.00
Montana $8,400.00 $12,600.00
Nebraska $10,400.00 $15,600.00
Nevada $13,700.00 $20,600.00
New Hampshire $12,300.00 $18,500.00
New Jersey $15,600.00 $23,400.00
New Mexico $10,700.00 $16,000.00
New York $17,100.00 $25,600.00
North Carolina $13,100.00 $19,700.00
North Dakota $10,400.00 $15,600.00
Ohio $12,500.00 $18,800.00
Oklahoma $12,500.00 $18,700.00
Oregon $12,700.00 $19,100.00
Pennsylvania $14,300.00 $21,500.00
Rhode Island $13,200.00 $19,800.00
South Carolina $12,600.00 $18,900.00
South Dakota $10,900.00 $16,300.00
Tennessee $12,600.00 $18,900.00
Texas $15,600.00 $23,500.00
Utah $13,200.00 $19,800.00
Vermont $11,200.00 $16,900.00
Virginia $14,500.00 $21,800.00
Washington $13,400.00 $20,100.00
West Virginia $10,400.00 $15,600.00
Wisconsin $11,300.00 $16,900.00
Wyoming $11,400.00 $17,200.00
Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton is a well-known family law attorney in Fort Worth who leads the Varghese Summersett Family Law Group. Turner has successfully guided hundreds of individuals and families through the most trying period of their lives as a skilled negotiator and savvy litigator. Turner Thornton concentrates his practice on family law, including divorce, child custody, contempt, and modification cases. He is experienced in handling estates with significant and unique assets that can be difficult to value. He finds amicable resolutions where possible to conserve his client's resources, but knows how to take the gloves off if the situation calls for it. He has had remarkable results in and outside of the courtroom based largely on his ability and desire to understand his clients' needs and guide them on the pathway to what success looks like for them.

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