The Cost of Divorce in Texas
Cost is always an important question for a client looking to get a divorce and invariably, it is one of the first questions I am asked when a new client arrives at my office. The answer is very unsatisfying because there is no way to give a solid answer. Each case is unique and the cost of the divorce will depend in large part on your goals, your spouses goals, the property and the issues to be presented, and most importantly whether or not you and your spouse can agree on anything.
Since no two people are exactly alike, it stands to reason that no marriage and therefore no divorce is exactly alike. Accordingly, the cost of divorce will depend on so many factors that cannot be known until they actually take place. That said, there are some cost that can be predicted with accuracy: there is a filing fee paid directly to the court(usually $300-350); issuance of Citation and Issuance of Notice if required, the Court cost for these items is generally about $10 each; service of process varies depending on location plan $85-125 per item served if it is required. Finally, the Texas Supreme Court has now mandated that all pleadings filed on or after January 1, 2014 must be filed via electronic submission which of course means there is now a middle-man between the lawyer and the court who collects a fee for the service – usually a few dollars per document and 4% handling fee for collecting the court cost.Unfortunately, that is about all the known cost, that can be predicted. Once the case is filed, and service completed, the individuals involved have a direct affect on the amount of attorney’s fees and expert cost. As your case proceeds, you may find a need for a private investigator and that cost is very difficult to calculate and depends on what is needed (surveillance, skip tracing, asset searches, etc.); the Court may require social studies, DNA testing, Home/Social studies, and in extreme cases, appointment of an attorney ad litem for the children, and there may be need to experts to testify as to the value of property, needs of the children, psychology of one or more parties, and there may be medical experts if the circumstances warrant. Each expert charges for his or her services according to experience, what is requested and the time required to conduct examinations or tests and to appear and testify. Accordingly, these cost vary and are not in every case, but this is cost that could pop up depending on the circumstances of the parties.
Another cost that must be considered is deposition or transcripts. Depositions are not taken in every case and generally speaking, if there are no experts, there are not going to be depositions. This, however, is just a general rule. Sometimes the parties are deposed early in the proceedings to lock down the facts, allegations claims, or just to preserve one party´s testimony if it is suspected that testimony may change in the future.
Finally, the Attorney will charge for his/her services which is the subject of next month´s blog entry.