The cost of a divorce in Florida can range from less than $500.00 to over $100,000.00. If the husband and wife agree on all issues, don’t use lawyers and prepare their own paper work, then the divorce will cost $408.00, which is the clerk’s filing fee. If a party has to serve his or her spouse with the petition for dissolution of marriage, then the clerk charges an additional $10.00 to issue a summons and the sheriff charges $40.00 to serve the summons and petition. If the marital home or other real property is deeded from spouse to the other as part of the divorce agreement, then there is a separate fee to record the deed.
If the parties can agree to an uncontested divorce, but need the assistance of a lawyer to handle all of the paperwork, then the cost will range from about $2,500.00 to $5,000.00, depending on the complexity of the issues and the size of the marital estate. For example, if the parties need to convey several parcels of real estate and divide a government pension built up during a long term marriage, the cost would be greater than a case where the parties have been married for a few years years and don’t have any assets or children.
The vast majority of divorce cases are contested and cost between $5,000.00 and $20,000.00. Some of the factors which drive the cost of a divorce include (1) the parties can’t agree on a parenting plan (custody) for the children, (2) one party wants alimony and the other refuses to pay it, (3) there are significant assets in the marital estate, (4) there is a prenuptial agreement which was poorly drafted and subject to challenge, (5) one of the parties seeks to relocate the minor children to another state and/or (6) one or both of the parties are dysfunctional, unreasonable or suffer from some form of mental health condition. This list certainly isn’t exhaustive.
If the parties can’t reach a settlement via mediation or otherwise and are required to submit the issue(s) to the judge at trial, then all bets are off as to the cost of the divorce. Because the State of Florida hasn’t funded any new judgeships in approximately seven years, it often takes 12 to 18 months to get a case to trial before one of Florida’s overworked family court judges. Depending on the conduct of parties (ie. poor behavior resulting in needless hearings), the amount of discovery, the number of witnesses, the necessity of expert witnesses and length of the trial, the cost of this type of divorce can easily run $50,000.00 over the course of the litigation until a final ruling is issued by the judge.
My final comment is that you’ll be far better off in the long run if you pay a little more for an experienced, qualified divorce attorney. Divorce isn’t like roofing. If you hire the low bid roofer and, after he’s done, the roof still leaks, then you can always hire the better, more expensive guy to fix your roof. This isn’t so in the divorce arena. If you go with the “low ball” divorce attorney and end up with a bad result, it’s not that easy to fix. In fact, it’s often impossible. When your divorce is over, the judge enters a final judgment of dissolution of marriage. Final means final. Only under limited circumstances can a final judgment be successfully appealed or modified.
At the Rice & Rose Law Firm, we strive to resolve each of our client’s cases expeditiously, inexpensively and amicably.