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How much does a divorce cost in Louisiana?

Curious about the cost of divorce in Louisiana? We share how much the average divorce costs, plus what makes it more or less expensive in this guide.

evident Editorial Team
February 14, 2024
New Orleans, building

Getting divorced in Louisiana can be an emotionally challenging experience. One extra source of stress for many is a crucial question: "How much is a divorce in Louisiana?" 

While it can be hard to know divorce costs in advance, there are certain predictable factors that influence whether a Louisiana divorce will be more or less expensive. Understanding these factors can remove some of the uncertainty from the process and alleviate at least some of the stress involved. 

So, what affects divorce costs in Louisiana? In this article, we’ll:

  • Share data on the average cost of divorce in Louisiana
  • Highlight the key factors that impact the cost of divorce in Louisiana and explain how they impact the process
  • Share resources for people who may have financial constraints and cannot afford a Louisiana divorce attorney

Let’s start by looking at the average cost of divorce in the state. 

Key Takeaways

Average Cost of Divorce in Louisiana

The average cost of a divorce in Louisiana is around $12,600 for cases without children and approximately $18,900 for divorces involving children, according to USA Today

The actual cost of divorce in Louisiana depends on the context and individuals involved, and these numbers are just averages. 

Indeed, even these two data points reflect the difference between divorces that do and don’t involve minor children.

What affects the cost of divorce in Louisiana?

So, how much is a divorce in Louisiana? The answer depends on several common factors and the role they play in any particular divorce.

Some of those factors don’t necessarily change much from one divorce to another, such as:

  • Filing fees and other court costs
  • Attorney rates

But more thematic factors also affect divorce costs and can vary greatly between divorces, such as: 

  • How complicated your divorce is
  • How contentious your divorce is

Both sets of factors are important, and we’ll take a look at each in turn.

How much is it to file for divorce in Louisiana?

Filing fees for divorce in Louisiana can vary greatly depending on what parish you file in. Some parishes also charge different filing fees depending on the complexity of the case (e.g. see the different fees for Jefferson Parish).  

Here are a few examples of divorce filing fees by parish in Louisiana:

  • Jefferson Parish – the filing fee for divorce in Jefferson Parish ranges from $400 to $600.
  • Orleans Parish – the filing fee for a petition for divorce in Orleans Parish, meanwhile, is $332.50.

There is also often a service fee of between $50-100 for having the divorce papers served on your spouse unless you make a joint filing.

Additional court costs will apply to any other motions or divorce paperwork that you file with the court. Those filing fees can also vary by parish, so you should confirm the filing fees and court costs in your local parish.

Fee waivers in Louisiana

A fee waiver may be available if you cannot afford the Louisiana court filing fees. 

The fee waiver in Louisiana is called In Forma Pauperis, and Louisiana Law Help has an online tool to help people fill out the request. 

How much is a divorce lawyer in Louisiana?

Attorneys’ fees are often one of the biggest expenses in a divorce. Some people are able to navigate their divorce without hiring a divorce lawyer, but many do need an attorney. 

How much a Louisiana divorce attorney costs may depend on how they bill for their services, so it's helpful to understand the two most common billing methods for Louisiana divorce lawyers.

Divorce Lawyer Billing Methods

The two main billing methods that Louisiana divorce lawyers use are hourly rates and flat fees. 

  • Hourly Rate: the divorce attorney charges by the hour for the time they spend working on a case. Attorneys who use hourly rates often request a retainer fee upfront, which is like a down payment for their services. 
  • Flat Fee: the divorce lawyer quotes a fixed amount up front for their assistance with the divorce case. 
Pros and cons of different billing methods

Each billing method has pros and cons, and people may prefer one approach over the other. But keep in mind that the attorney may also have a preference, and the details of your divorce could also align better with one method or the other. 

For example, a flat fee could fit better with an uncontested divorce, whereas hourly rates usually work better with contested divorces.

Average Hourly Rates For Louisiana Divorce Lawyers

The average hourly rate for Louisiana family law attorneys is approximately $275 per hour. 

The lawyer's experience, location, and more can affect actual hourly rates, though. For instance, divorce lawyers tend to charge more in bigger cities like New Orleans than in other parts of Louisiana.

Keep in mind that the amount of time the divorce lawyer spends on your case can have an even greater impact on total costs than their hourly rate, though. 

For instance, compare a divorce lawyer with an hourly rate of $275 per hour who spends ten hours on a case with a divorce lawyer who charges $200 per hour but spends 50 hours on a more complicated case ($275 x 10 hours for $2,750 in attorney fees vs. $200 x 50 hours for $10,000). 

How Complicated Your Louisiana Divorce Is

labyrinth, get lost, complicated

As a general matter, costs increase as a divorce becomes more complicated. 

A threshold distinction is between uncontested and contested divorces, with contested divorces usually being more expensive than uncontested divorces. But even among contested divorces, there is a broad range of possibilities, so we will also share the specific factors that make a divorce more complicated below.

Uncontested vs Contested Divorce in Louisiana

For an uncontested divorce, both parties must agree on all issues related to the divorce, including:

  • Alimony (called spousal support in Louisiana law)
  • Property division (note that Louisiana is a community property state)
  • Child custody
  • Child support

Uncontested divorces in Louisiana are faster, simpler, and less expensive in most cases than contested divorces. The cost of uncontested divorce in Louisiana can often be limited to court costs and filing fees.

By contrast, contested divorces in Louisiana involve unresolved issues and require a greater level of court oversight. The overall cost of contested divorce in Louisiana can vary greatly depending on the number of unresolved issues and how hotly they are contested. (For example, do the parties have a slight disagreement about how to split joint custody, or are they in a full-blown custody battle?).

What makes a divorce more complicated?

Factors that increase the complexity of a divorce include:

  • Minor children
  • Disputes over alimony
  • Substantial marital assets
  • Complicated marital assets

Each of these factors can contribute to a more complex divorce process and increase the overall cost of divorce in Louisiana. Indeed, as noted above, there is a substantial difference in the average cost of divorce in Louisiana depending on whether there are minor children involved or not.

Notably, each of these issues can also be a potential source of disagreement, which brings us to our next factor affecting Louisiana divorce costs.

How Contentious Your Louisiana Divorce Is

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Uncontested divorces are generally simpler and cheaper than contested divorces, but not all couples are able to reach an agreement on all issues. That said, it is still helpful to adopt a collaborative approach and strive for cooperation with your ex-spouse when possible.

One way to reduce conflict (and expenses) is through divorce mediation or other collaborative approaches. These alternatives to contentious court battles can reduce the need for expensive lawyers’ fees and shorten the timetable for divorce.

While it may be difficult to set aside personal differences, focusing on the broader benefits of a cooperative approach can lead to a less contentious and less expensive divorce process. 

Lower-Cost Options for Divorce in Louisiana

For people with concerns about the cost of divorce in Louisiana, there are resources available that can reduce legal expenses. 

One option is limited-scope representation, in which you hire a divorce attorney to help you with specific aspects of your divorce but not to represent you for the full scope of your case. This can help keep costs down while making sure you get legal assistance on the aspects of your case where you most need help.  

Another resource is Legal Aid organizations which offer free or low-cost legal services for eligible individuals. Louisiana Law Help provides resources to help eligible individuals get the information or assistance they need.  

For help with filing fees, remember that fee waivers may be available for individuals who would be burdened by court costs. 

FAQs About the Cost of Divorce in Louisiana

How much does a divorce cost if both parties agree?

If both parties agree to a divorce in Louisiana, and they agree on all divorce-related issues, they may pursue an uncontested divorce.

The cost of uncontested divorce in Louisiana can be limited to the filing fees and court costs if the divorcing couple is able to agree on all issues related to the divorce and avoid hiring lawyers. If so, the cost of uncontested divorce in Louisiana may be less than $1,000, including the divorce filing fee.

But if the spouses disagree but even one divorce-related issue, they must file for a contested divorce and costs will rise. That said, cooperation between the spouses can still help reduce costs and make for a smoother process, as not every contested divorce has to be a scorched-earth legal battle.

How long does a divorce take in Louisiana?

The timeline of a Louisiana divorce depends on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the cooperation between the parties, and the court's schedule.

Uncontested divorces in Louisiana can be resolved relatively quickly. Typically, an uncontested divorce in Louisiana can be finalized within a few months.

Meanwhile, contested divorces can take significantly longer, often up to a year or more, from divorce petition to divorce decree. The timeline for a contested divorce in Louisiana depends on those factors mentioned above (i.e. the complexity of the issues, the court's caseload, and the level of cooperation between the parties).

Every divorce case is unique, though, and the timeline can be influenced by many different circumstances. 

The Final Word on the Cost of Divorce in Louisiana

So, how much does a divorce cost in Louisiana? Let’s recap the key points to remember. 

The average cost of divorce in Louisiana is approximately $12,600 for cases without children and $18,900 for divorces involving children. 

Actual costs vary greatly but are influenced by certain common factors, such as filing fees, attorneys' rates, the complexity of the divorce, and the contentiousness of the divorce. 

An experienced Louisiana divorce lawyer can be a tremendous resource. But if you are not able to afford a divorce attorney, there are alternative options available, such as limited-scope representation and Legal Aid organizations.

Consider speaking with a divorce lawyer if you have questions about your particular circumstances. And make sure to ask these questions at the initial consultation to help you decide whether the lawyer is a good fit for your needs.