Wondering how much a divorce costs in Texas? Read on for everything you need to know about what impacts the cost of divorce in Texas.
Getting a divorce in Texas can be a stressful and daunting experience. And for many, a question that is front of mind is, “How much does a divorce cost in Texas?”
Several factors impact the cost of divorce in Texas, and understanding those factors can help you understand the process and what the costs involved might be for you.
In this article, we’ll explain the factors that impact divorce costs in Texas, share information about the average cost of divorce in Texas, and provide resources that can help people save money during the divorce process.
Not all divorces are created equally, and there is a broad range of possible paths your divorce could take. At one end of the spectrum is the complicated and contentious scorched-earth divorce, where you and your spouse fight every step of the way.
But plenty of divorces are more straightforward, without complicated assets or property division questions, and separating couples can explore options like collaborative divorce or divorce mediation.
Here are some key factors that impact how much a divorce costs in Texas.
Now let’s take a closer look at these individual factors.
While these fees can vary slightly depending on the county in which you file, they generally include the following:
Filing fees and court costs are paid directly to the court. To understand the specific filing fees and court costs in your county, be sure to check with the local county courthouse or consult your attorney.
In Texas, fee waivers are available for court filing fees in certain situations. The fee waiver is called an "Affidavit of Indigency" or “Affidavit of Inability to Pay Court Costs,” which allows individuals who cannot afford the filing fees to request a waiver based on their financial circumstances.
As we explain in our guide on how much a divorce lawyer costs, it’s essential to understand both how a divorce lawyer will charge you as well as how much they might charge you.
There are a few common fee structures Texas divorce lawyers might offer for their services, most notably hourly rates and flat fee structures. It is also common for divorce lawyers to request an initial retainer, which acts as a deposit covering legal fees and expenses.
When a divorce attorney follows an hourly billing approach, you are billed according to the time spent on your case. On the other hand, flat fee arrangements involve a predetermined fee for the entire case, regardless of the actual time invested by the lawyer.
Each billing arrangement has advantages and drawbacks. Which fee structure is best for you will depend on your circumstances and the context of your divorce.
In terms of hourly rates, the average hourly rate for Family Law lawyers in Texas is $320 per hour.
But as noted above, hourly rates vary based on the lawyer’s experience, location, and the market rates where you live. For instance, an experienced divorce attorney might cost more in larger metro areas like Houston or Dallas.
And remember, how much a divorce lawyer in Texas costs will depend on the next two factors discussed below, because the complexity and contentious of your divorce will dictate how much help you'll need from a divorce attorney.
In general, the cost of a divorce correlates with how complicated and contentious it is – the more complicated and contentious, the more expensive it will be. And a key question is whether you are dealing with an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce.
Uncontested divorces, where spouses can reach a settlement agreement that they submit to the court, tend to be less expensive than contested divorces. The rationale behind this is clear: the process is smoother when couples can agree on key issues.
But if you are dealing with a contested divorce, and you and your spouse have hired divorce lawyers because you cannot reach an agreement, divorce costs will increase.
How expensive the divorce ultimately becomes depends on the issues that need resolution. These may include:
So, for instance, a shorter marriage with minimal marital property or debts generally results in a less complicated and less expensive divorce compared to a lengthy marriage with significant marital assets. (Note that Texas is a community property state which affects how marital assets and debts are distributed). Similarly, disputes over child custody arrangements can make the divorce process more intricate and costly.
It's important to note that divorce doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing scenario between uncontested or highly adversarial proceedings. And the tenor and course of a divorce can change from the initial petition to the final divorce decree.
Even if complete agreement on every detail isn't possible (as required for an uncontested divorce in Texas), resolving issues amicably can save time, money, and stress. Divorce mediation and collaborative processes offer alternatives that can help minimize court fees, filing fees, and attorney expenses.
Naturally, not every divorce lends itself to amicable resolutions, as there may be valid reasons for disagreement. But to the extent that you and your spouse can reach agreements, the process becomes easier and less expensive.
If you have concerns about the cost of divorce in Texas, there are lower-cost options that may be viable alternatives to hiring a divorce lawyer for full-scope representation.
If you only need help on a particular aspect of the divorce proceedings, limited scope representation might be an option. Agreements for limited scope representation limit what the divorce lawyer will help you with (e.g. attending divorce mediation with you or reviewing your divorce agreement).
Meanwhile, if you need full-scope legal representation from a divorce lawyer but cannot afford it, you may qualify for Legal Aid and should contact a Texas Legal Aid office near you. For instance, the Texas Legal Services Center is one organization that may be able to provide advice or help point you in the direction of other resources. The State Bar of Texas also created a referral directory to help low-income Texans find the legal resources that may be available to them.
Finally, you also might be able to find a lawyer who will take your divorce case pro bono (for free) and should reach out to the Texas Bar for referrals.
So, how much does a divorce cost in Texas? Let’s recap the key takeaways.
It is difficult to accurately predict how much your legal fees will be from the outset, but understanding what factors will impact your total divorce costs can help you eliminate some of the stress from the process.
Key components of Texas divorce costs include the filing fees in your county and attorney’s fees. Factors that influence how much your divorce will cost include how complicated and contentious it is.
And remember, there are lower-cost legal options available such as Legal Aid or limited scope representation if you cannot afford to hire a Texas divorce lawyer for full-scope representation.
If you have questions about the cost of divorce in Texas, consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney today. And if you do, here are key questions to ask a family law lawyer when you first meet.