If you are contemplating filing for divorce or learn that a spouse recently filed, you likely have many questions and concerns about the divorce process. For many Illinois residents facing a divorce, a common problem centers on how much a divorce will cost.
The cost of divorce in Illinois is $13,800, including $10,900 in attorneys' fees. Attorneys' fees are a significant chunk of the cost of divorce because their average hourly rate in Illinois is $260. Your attorney's hourly rate—plus the rate of any paralegals and other firm staff—factored with the total time spent on your divorce case will determine the number of attorney’s fees you'll pay.
Other expenses include fees for things like court filings, the cost of copying and sharing documents, and compensation for expert witnesses and consultants (like child custody evaluators, appraisers, or financial analysts).
There are two main costs involved in a divorce: Court Fees and Attorney Fees. Of course, the more continuous the divorce, the more hours you should expect your attorney to work on your case. On the bright side, no matter how complicated your divorce is, court fees are the same for everyone.
Key court fees for residents of Cook County:
Most divorce attorneys in Illinois offer a flat fee for an uncontested divorce, which is a great way to keep costs down. For a divorce to qualify as uncontested, you and your spouse should able to settle everything (dividing money and property, for example) before hiring an attorney. In that case, the attorney’s role is to guide you through the court process and assist with the required paperwork and filings.
The cost of your divorce is directly related to the number of issues between spouses that need to be worked out. The biggest determinant of attorney fees is whether your divorce is contested or uncontested.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide property or who gets custody of kids, you have a contested divorce. In this situation, there is almost no way to know in advance how many hours your lawyer will be working on your case. Contested divorces can last years, but some can settle within a few months. As a rough guide, a contested divorce generally takes at least 10 hours, for which you will pay an hourly rate. This time estimate includes phone calls, emails, documents, filings, and court time.
Exactly how much you will pay for a divorce depends on several factors. However, some overarching principles can help you decide how to proceed.
Mediators work with the couple to discuss and work out all aspects of the divorce. In these cases, attorneys are not required, and the divorce does not go to court, which means the divorce is typically more affordable. You do have to pay for the mediator, but their fees are usually reasonable. In our comparison of divorce cost studies, we found that settling a divorce without going to court can save you an average of $4,000.
Other things that may affect the cost of divorce include the complexities of the case. For example, if there is huge debts and/or properties involved, child custody issues, or problems with domestic violence, incarceration, and/or substance abuse, the case will likely take more time and thus may become more expensive. The employment and income of both parties can also affect divorce costs.
Legal costs can be a big part of divorce expenses. However, hiring an attorney does not have to mean breaking the bank. Here are some tips on how to keep attorney costs down during a divorce.
Ktenas Law Group is experienced in helping couples navigate through and complete their divorce. Both contested and uncontested divorces are expertly handled by the family law attorneys at our Illinois-based law firm. You can book a free consultation today by calling us at (312)-756-8600.