The cost of a divorce depends on the number of contested issues involved and the complexity of those issues. Disagreements between the parties to a divorce can cause additional attorney fees, discovery costs, and miscellaneous expenses. This blog explores the cost of divorce in Indiana and how a party can keep that cost to a minimum.
Whether the parties agree on all issues, or disagree on all issues, the one fixed cost of a divorce is the court’s filing fee. This fee ranges from $185 to $205, depending on the county where the divorce is filed, and includes a $28 sheriff’s service fee. If a party is unable to pay this fee, they can ask the court to waive it by filing an affidavit of indigency and motion to waive the filing fee. This does not mean, however, that the fee will be waived; it is within the judge’s discretion to waive or not waive filing fees.
Attorney fees for a divorce are charged by the hour. Most attorneys will ask for a retainer, or a flat fee up front, from which hourly fees are then deducted until the full amount of the retainer has been used. After this, a client will receive monthly bills itemizing the work done, amount of time spent on each task, and the total amount owed. Clients are charged for all time spent working on their case, including, but not limited to, preparation of pleadings, phone calls to and from the other party’s attorney, the court, or any other person the attorney speaks with about the case, review of pleadings filed by the other party or orders issued by the court, attending hearings, office meetings and phone calls with the client, and reviewing or replying to e-mails regarding the client’s divorce.
In an uncontested divorce, where the parties agree on all issues, and simply need an attorney to prepare and review the required documents and then file them with the court, attorney fees can be kept to a minimum. Uncontested divorces do not require discovery or negotiations and the final hearing can be waived when the settlement agreement is filed, thus taking very little of the attorney’s time as compared to a contested divorce.
Contested divorces generally involve many phone calls and negotiations, filing and reviewing multiple pleadings, conducting discovery, and attending two or more hearings. This is where attorney fees begin to add up and can cause a divorce to be rather expensive. The more issues that the parties can agree on and the less phone calls made or e-mails sent to an attorney, the cheaper the divorce will be. That being said, there are cases where reaching an agreement is impossible, and there is simply no way to avoid the numerous court filings, discovery requests, and hearings. In these cases, attorney fees might be reduced by limiting the number of appointments with and phone calls and e-mails to the attorney.
Emotions can run high during a divorce, causing litigants to feel as if their attorney needs to know about every negative interaction between them and their spouse. However, many of these interactions, are not legally significant or relevant to the contested issues in the case. Knowing the basics of the Rules of Evidence and understanding the statutes that the court will consider when making a determination on each issue can help a party decide what information needs to be passed on to their attorney and what does not.
Depending on the contested issues in a divorce, property division, child custody, parenting time, support, or spousal maintenance rules and statutes may be involved. A review of these rules and statutes can help a party determine what information and evidence may be needed by their attorney and what might be irrelevant and simply increasing attorney fees to pass along. If you begin to become concerned about your attorney fees, you can always speak with your attorney about ways they can be reduced.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. It is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.