How much does a divorce cost in Tennessee? Read on for everything to know about filing fees, court costs and what impacts the cost of divorce in TN.
Going through a divorce in Tennessee can be a challenging experience. In addition to navigating a complicated legal process, it can also be emotionally overwhelming.
One factor that adds to the stress is concerns about the cost of divorce in Tennessee, and many people often ask, "How much does a divorce cost in TN?"
While it is difficult to accurately predict the cost of a Tennessee divorce, several common factors influence how expensive it could be. Understanding these factors can help reduce some of the stress and uncertainty accompanying the divorce process.
In this article, we will:
Let’s start by looking at the average cost of a divorce in Tennessee.
According to USA Today, the average cost of divorce in TN is $12,600 for cases without children and $18,900 for divorces involving children.
But these figures represent averages, and any given divorce can cost far less or more depending on the circumstances. Each divorce is unique and multiple factors influence the actual cost.
For example, these averages reflect the difference between divorces involving minor children and divorces without children.
It's crucial to understand what other factors impact total divorce costs to get a sense of the potential cost of your divorce in Tennessee.
So, how much is a divorce in Tennessee? The answer depends on several key factors.
Some of the costs associated with most divorce cases in TN include:
Knowing the applicable filing fees and average rates for Tennessee divorce attorneys is helpful given their direct impact on TN divorce costs.
But other factors also greatly impact the cost of any given divorce, including how complicated the divorce is and how contentious the divorce is.
We’ll discuss these factors in greater detail below, but as you might expect, complicated and contentious divorces are typically much more expensive than straightforward and amicable divorce cases.
The filing fee for divorce in Tennessee is typically between $200 and $400, but the fee can vary depending on what county your case is in and the details of your case.
For instance, the filing fee to initiate a divorce proceeding without minor children in Nashville is either $184.50 or $226.50, depending on whether you have the sheriff’s office serve the divorce papers on your ex-spouse.
Meanwhile, the filing fee for a divorce with minor children in Nashville is $259.50 or $301.50, again depending on whether that price includes the service fee. Fees are even higher in Shelby County.
There may be other fees for filing additional motions or divorce paperwork with the court. Those court fees can also vary by county, and you should confirm the filing fees and court costs with your local courthouse.
You may be able to get a waiver for court filing fees if it would be a hardship to pay.
You will need to submit a Request to Postpone Filing Fees with the court, and if your request is approved, filing fees will be waived.
For many TN divorces, attorney fees are one of the largest components of the total cost.
Divorce lawyers in Tennessee generally use two main fee structures: hourly rates or flat fees.
If the divorce attorney charges an hourly rate, you will be billed based on the time the lawyer spends on your case. On the other hand, a flat fee involves a fixed fee, set in advance, for the scope of the attorney’s engagement.
The choice between hourly rates and flat fees often depends on the circumstances surrounding your divorce. For instance, it is typically easier to predict how much work is involved with an uncontested divorce, so a flat fee may be more suitable. Meanwhile, contested divorces are less predictable, so hourly rates are commonly used for these divorces.
So, how much does a divorce lawyer cost in TN? The average hourly rate for Family Law attorneys in Tennessee is $265 per hour. (Note that divorce attorneys are a subset of family law attorneys as divorce falls under the broader legal practice area of Family Law).
But remember, this is just an average and actual hourly rates may differ. Factors such as the divorce lawyer's experience and prevailing market rates where you live can affect attorney costs. (For instance, bigger cities like Nashville tend to have higher average rates compared to other parts of Tennessee).
It’s helpful to know what the average hourly rates are, but keep in mind that the total fees are also influenced by the amount of time the lawyer spends working on your case. (I.e. the $265 hourly rate has less impact on the cost of divorce in TN than whether a lawyer spends 10 hours or 50 hours working on your case).
This brings us to the next two crucial factors affecting the cost of divorce in Tennessee: the complexity and contentiousness of the divorce.
As a rule of thumb, complicated divorces are generally more expensive than straightforward divorces.
We’ll examine some of the issues that can make a divorce more complicated, but a threshold distinction is whether your divorce is uncontested or contested.
An uncontested divorce is an option when both spouses agree on all issues related to the divorce, including alimony, child custody, child support, and the division of property.
Uncontested divorces are usually faster, simpler, and cheaper than contested ones.
The cost of an uncontested divorce in Tennessee may mostly involve court costs and filing fees, greatly reducing the overall costs of the process.
Contested divorces, meanwhile, are usually much more expensive. A contested divorce takes place when the parties cannot agree on one or more divorce-related issues and thus need a greater level of court involvement in the process.
That said, not all contested divorces are created equally. The number of unresolved issues and the intensity of disputes surrounding those issues significantly impact the overall cost of a contested divorce in TN.
Several factors can make a Tennessee divorce more complicated, which can increase costs.
Each of these factors can contribute to a more complicated process, which can increase the overall cost of divorce in TN.
Additionally, though, each of these issues can introduce areas for disagreement, which leads us to our next factor: how contentious your divorce is.
Another crucial factor that influences the total cost of divorce in TN is how amicable or adversarial your divorce is.
Overall, contentious divorces tend to cost more than amicable divorces, and it is the hard-fought court battles that can really get expensive by racking up attorneys’ fees.
While an uncontested divorce is not always an option (you and your partner are getting divorced for a reason, after all), taking a collaborative approach with your ex-spouse can still have huge benefits in reducing the time and cost associated with a Tennessee divorce. Striving to find common ground and working cooperatively, even when you and your ex-partner disagree, can contribute to more efficient and cost-effective outcomes.
Collaborative divorce processes, including divorce mediation, can help resolve disputes and reach agreements outside of the courtroom. These alternative approaches can help reduce attorney fees and overall court costs, contributing to a simpler and easier process.
For individuals with concerns about the cost of divorce in Tennessee, there are resources and lower-cost alternatives for legal assistance that can help reduce your legal expenses.
Limited-scope representation is one option if hiring a divorce lawyer to represent you for the entirety of your case would be too expensive. With limited-scope representation, a divorce lawyer can assist you with specific tasks (such as accompanying you to divorce mediation or reviewing your marital settlement agreement) without representing you for the full extent of your divorce case. This way, you can benefit from professional guidance for the areas where you need it most without incurring the full cost of retaining a lawyer.
Legal Aid organizations in Tennessee can also be a valuable resource and offer free or low-cost legal services for people who qualify for their services (based on the relevant legal practice area and income thresholds). The Tennessee Bar Association helps individuals find Legal Aid resources on their website here.
Plus, remember that fee waivers may be available if you cannot afford the Tennessee filing fees.
When both parties to a divorce in Tennessee can agree on all divorce-related issues, the cost of the divorce can be significantly lower than in contested cases.
When the parties agree, the cost of an uncontested divorce in Tennessee may primarily involve court costs and filing fees, including the standard fees for filing the necessary documents.
If you don't have attorneys' fees, an uncontested divorce in TN could cost under $1,000, including the $200 -$400 filing fee. If you choose to hire legal representation, though, the cost of your divorce could increase.
The timeline of a Tennessee divorce can vary depending on several factors, such as the complexity of the case, the level of cooperation between the parties, and the court's schedule.
Uncontested divorces can be resolved relatively quickly and often can be finalized within a few months. Contested divorces, on the other hand, can take significantly longer, often up to a year or more.
How long a contested divorce takes in Tennessee can vary depending on the complexity of the unresolved issues, the court's caseload, and whether the parties are able to cooperate.
But remember, every divorce is unique and the timeline for a TN divorce can be influenced by multiple factors.
So, how much is a divorce in TN? Let’s recap the key takeaways.
Data shows the average cost of divorce in TN is approximately $12,600 for cases without children and $18,900 for divorces involving children. It is important to remember, though, that individual circumstances can result in costs that are much higher or lower than those averages.
Factors that affect the cost of a divorce in TN include inputs such as the relevant filing fees, other court costs, and attorneys' fees. Broader factors, such as the complexity of your divorce and the level of conflict involved, also have a significant impact on total costs. These factors also vary greatly from case to case.
For individuals concerned about the cost of hiring a Tennessee divorce lawyer, limited-scope representation or organizations like Legal Aid can provide cost-effective alternatives.
If you have other questions about the cost of divorce in Tennessee, it may be worth speaking to an experienced divorce lawyer. If you do, don't hesitate to ask these key questions during the initial consultation to evaluate whether the attorney you speak with is the right fit for you.