Divorce proceedings differ in the complexity of issues, the length, and the procedures to be employed. This results from the diversity of marital relationships.
Some involve little property and no children. For other couples, the marital estate encompasses considerable land, retirement funds, stocks, bonds, jewelry, and business interests. With a divorce involving minor children come serious considerations over custody and plans for the children and their educational, physical, spiritual, and mental development.
For these and other reasons, you won’t find a particular or standard price tag for obtaining a divorce. However, some reported figures may guide you. For instance, as reported in Forbes magazine, the attorney fees on average run between $11,000 and $14,000.
Schedule a Free Divorce Consultation with a Real Tampa Divorce Lawyer
Before entering a courtroom or signing off on any divorce settlement please speak with a divorce lawyer at Robert Sparks Tampa Divorce Attorneys.
Schedule a free consultation with our skilled lawyers. It’s a no-risk, no-obligation way to be made aware of every potential pitfall you might encounter when going through even a friendly, cooperative divorce.
If you feel we can help you safeguard your rights and retain more of what you’ve worked so hard for, we stand ready to represent you. We help clients successfully navigate mediated divorces, collaborative divorces, and contested divorces decided in court.
The Average Cost of a Tampa Divorce
An “uncontested divorce” has an average attorney fee of $4,000.00. By “uncontested,” we mean a divorce in which a spouse files a petition, and the parties agree on dividing the property, spousal support, child support, and the parental and custody plan for the children. If you can’t resolve issues without a trial, a divorce could cost you around $20,000 or more in attorney fees.
Below, we discuss what determines lawyer fees, whether you might get help with your legal fees, and what constitutes other costs in a divorce lawsuit.
What Are the Legal Fees for Divorce in Florida?
Lawyers might charge a flat fee for simple, uncontested divorces. Otherwise, most bill by the hour. Florida law bars contingency fees for divorce and other family law cases. That is, whether and how much the lawyer gets paid cannot be based on whether the court grants the divorce, the client gets custody of the children, or the amount of alimony or spouse’s share of the marital estate.
In Florida, attorney fee hourly rates typically run between $260 and $330. What an attorney charges per hour depends on factors such as:
- The lawyer’s experience and skill
- What other divorce and family law attorneys in the community or area customarily charge
- The complexity and number of issues or disputes in the case
- The possible or desired results of the case
Divorce lawyers may also require a retainer, which represents a payment to secure their services. This takes into account an estimate of how much time the lawyer anticipates spending on the case. With disputes and the possibility of trial comes a larger upfront payment. As a rule of thumb, retainers can run from $2,000 to $5,000.
Does the Opposing Party Have to Pay Your Attorney Fees?
Florida Statutes Section 61.16 authorizes the court to require one spouse to pay the other’s attorney fees in divorce cases. The outcome of a divorce proceeding has long-lasting effects on the parties’ finances and relationships with the children.
For that reason, the inability to pay should not deprive a spouse of legal assistance in pursuing or defending claims and otherwise protecting rights as a spouse or parent.
To that end, Florida courts likely consider the following to assess the parties’ financial ability to hire a Tampa divorce lawyer:
- Employment history during the marriage, such as whether the party requesting attorney fees primarily assumed the homemaker role while the other worked
- Other sources of income
- Available assets
The skilled legal representatives at Robert Sparks Tampa Divorce Attorneys will explore the legal options for holding your spouse responsible for your divorce costs. If possible, we will hold your partner responsible for every hardship you’ve faced.
Attorney Fees and Enforcement of Divorce Judgments
Divorce proceedings don’t necessarily end with the entry of the divorce judgment. Spouses may need the help of any attorney to enforce a divorce decree that incorporates a property settlement agreement or includes provisions for dividing property, alimony, a parenting plan, or child support. Spouses violate divorce judgments, for example, by:
- Not bring children for ordered or agreed-upon visits or stays
- Not enrolling children in school or daycare
- Failing to pay child support
- Failing to execute a deed or other documents to transfer title to property
The aggrieved party may enforce the judgment through a motion for contempt or other proceedings to compel performance. Florida law does not allow a party who fails to comply with a divorce decree without any justification may not obtain attorney fees. If you have to engage an attorney to enforce a divorce judgment, you may qualify for fees if you financially are unable to afford one.
In contested cases, the losing party at trial may choose to appeal the final judgment. An appeal may also arise when a court refuses to set aside a marital settlement agreement or agreed-upon parental plan that one spouse contends was the product of fraud or duress.
Appellate courts in Florida reverse trial courts for errors of law, such as applying statutes or case law incorrectly, improperly admitting or excluding evidence, or finding facts not supported by sufficient evidence. If you prevailed at the trial level, a lawyer will prepare written legal arguments (briefs), perhaps appear before an appellate court to orally argue against the appeal, and take other steps to have the trial court’s judgment upheld. A frivolous appeal can lead to an award of attorney fees for the non-appealing party.
Other Grounds for Attorney Fees
As in civil cases in general, courts may sanction parties who file frivolous petitions and motions and fail to comply with discovery requests without justification. These include attorney fees for the party defending the frivolous filing or seeking the documents.
In Florida divorce proceedings, each of the spouses must submit financial affidavits and exchange various financial documents. These entail tax records, pay stubs, brokerage account statements, bank records, deeds, insurance documents, and mortgages to name a few. If your spouse does not furnish them, you or your lawyer may ask a court to order the other spouse to produce them.
These complex legal and financial issues can make talking to a Tampa Divorce Lawyer necessary. It’s a chance to determine how much you’ll pay to safeguard your rights in a divorce and the benefits you’ll receive. You may uncover options that you didn’t know were available to you and your family.
Other Costs To Be Aware of in a Tampa Divorce
Depending on the county in which you file, you’ll have a filing fee between $350 and $410. This goes directly to the court upon filing the petition for a regular divorce. Should you not be able to afford the filing fee, you may ask for permission to file as an indigent. In such a case, the court may waive the filing fees outright or allow you to pay the fee in installments rather than at once. The fee for serving the petition by a sheriff’s department stands at $40.
Contested divorce proceedings may bring expenses for experts and other professionals. Attorneys may have to engage as expert witnesses accountants, appraisers for real estate and businesses, and child psychologists.
Contact a Tampa Divorce Attorney
At Robert Sparks Tampa Divorce Attorneys we are ready to defend the interests of our clients and safeguard their rights. We understand the concerns that are most critical to those going through divorce in Florida.
We offer a free case consultation that is valuable even if you do decide not to hire a Tampa divorce lawyer. You’ll learn some valuable information on retaining the things and protecting the relationships that are most important to you.
Robert Sparks Attorneys stands by you through divorce negotiations and litigation while putting a priority on your wellbeing. We make sure you’ll have what you need to rebuild your life, retain your career and assets, and protect your time with your children.