How to Save on the Cost of a Divorce

Divorce can be costly, both emotionally and financially. According to recent statistics (1), the average cost of a divorce (including attorneys' fees) was $4,100 if it is uncontested. However, if a divorce becomes contested, the cost can skyrocket to an average of $10,600 (if the couple is able to settle without out of court) and up to $23,300 or more if it goes to trial.

If you are like most people, you want to end your marriage as cost-effectively as possible. In the article below, you can learn some effective ways to save on legal fees and reduce the cost of getting divorced.

My Divorce is Going to Cost How Much?!

By Craig G. Kallen III, J.D.

Whatever happened to the $500 Divorce? Well, I can tell you that as our lives grow more complex, so do our divorces. As divorces become more and more complex, they become more and more expensive. So, is there anything we can do to save on legal expenses as we proceed through the minefield of divorce? The answer is a resounding, yes. The key is to know how many issues are out there and how we can resolve them to our satisfaction with the least amount of conflict.

We need to prepare for our divorces at least as much as we planned our weddings. That's right, just as you planned your gown, cake, caterer, church and honeymoon, you need to make a road map for your divorce. If you don't you will get lost and it will cost you to find your way home.

The purpose of this article is to let you in on all the possible ways to pay for a lawyer. Just knowing these different formats will help you decide which way to go.

Reduce the Cost of a Divorce with Flat Fees:

The first, and best in my opinion, is to pay your lawyer a flat fee for handling your divorce from start to finish. This method is the only way to guarantee how much you will pay your lawyer. The key of course is setting the amount of the flat fee.

I suggest that for every one of the following contested issues, that you be willing to pay a $1000 flat fee: Child Custody, Child Support, Maintenance, Division of Property, and Division of a Retirement Account. Therefore, if you will not be able to agree with your spouse on all five (5) issues, a good flat fee would be $5000; if you just have one contested issue, $1000. If you are lucky enough to have no contested issues, $1000 or less is appropriate.

Negotiate Lower Hourly Fees and Retainers:

The second, and by far more complicated, is paying a lawyer by the amount of time he/she spends on your case. This is by far the most utilized arrangement due to the uncertainty over how long it will take to resolve a divorce case.

  • I would first try to negotiate a flat fee as described above, but if that is not possible, try to negotiate the lowest hourly rate possible. Don't be afraid to haggle. Let the lawyer know that you have shopped around and have found lower hourly rates. 

  • Second, negotiate a lower retainer. 

  • Third, examine each and every bill you receive closely. Call the lawyer with any discrepancy that you find. 

  • Fourth, insist that any major work be first met with your approval. These distinctions should give you some leg up when it comes to a final tally of your bill. 

Whether you pay a flat fee or hourly fees, the tips above will help save on the cost of a divorce. 

Craig G. Kallen III, is a St. Louis divorce attorney who focuses solely on family law issues and has practiced at the trial court level for over two decades. He is also the author of "The Secret to Saving Legal Fees", in which he shares with the reader helpful hints that can make a big difference in both the outcome and expense of divorce litigation.

Controlling the cost of a divorce is important, especially when you are faced with living on one income. Instead of taking your spouse to court merely for the sake of revenge, it is better to work out as many issues as possible. If you can work out all the issues, you can avoid a costly contested divorce.

The following subjects also deal with the issues to consider when facing divorce: 


  1. (2023) The Average Cost of a Divorce 

  1. Divorce
  2. How to Get a Divorce
  3. Saving on the Cost of a Divorce