How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
My base fee for an uncontested divorce in Sarasota, Florida is $950. The base fee can go up if your case has added complexity – for example if there are minor children.
At the bottom of this page, I have provided a fee estimator. The fee estimator applies to divorce cases in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. The calculator is an estimate. However, once I know more about your uncontested divorce case, I will be happy to quote you a specific flat fee for your uncontested divorce. The flat fee will cover your entire attorney fees. The flat fee does not include third party costs, like the clerk of court’s filing fee.
Do I Really Have an Uncontested Divorce?
Here are my requirements for an uncontested divorce:
- You and your spouse have discussed the fact that a divorce is going to happen.
- You and your spouse have mutually disclosed all your assets, debts, income, and expenses.
- You and your spouse have a complete understanding of your respective finances, and have voluntarily exchanged all documents that the other spouse has requested (or needs) to make an informed decision about the terms of the divorce.
- You and your spouse have discussed the following issues, and are in complete agreement about how these issues will be resolved in the divorce:
- The division of assets and debts
- Custody (the Parenting Plan)
- Child Support
- Everything else
- You and your spouse have access to a computer, printer, and separate emails.
Do I Need an Attorney if I Have an Uncontested Divorce?
As the singer Janice Joplin once wrote, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” However, unlike the song, most people have something to lose. Hiring an attorney for your uncontested divorce makes sense if any of the following issues need to be addressed:.
- Minor children, custody, and child support
- Assets and debts to be divided
- Retirement accounts
- Alimony issues
- Real property to divide.
Unfortunately, I have seen many instances where not hiring an attorney for an uncontested divorce resulted in disaster. Sometime there is simply no way to fix these mistakes after the fact. The following are just a few examples of the uncontested divorce disasters that could have been avoided by hiring a lawyer:
- The parties intended that neither would pay the other child support. However, they incorrectly worded their agreement. As a result, the Department of Revenue sought two years of back child support.
- The termination date for alimony was incorrectly omitted. As result, the party paying alimony was forced to pay permanent alimony, when he mistakenly believed that alimony would terminate after a year or two.
- The parties did not include the “magic words” that makes alimony taxable to the party receiving alimony, and tax deductible to the party paying alimony. As a result, years later the IRS sought to recover unpaid taxes from the party paying the alimony.
- The agreement failed to properly account for the federal income tax dependency exemptions for the parties’ minor children children. As a result, each year one of the parties was unable to claim a credit worth $4,000.
- The parties agreement failed to properly handle the division of the martial home. As a result, the spouse who did not get the residence, was pursued by the bank, and was forced to pay the loan on the house.
How Fast Do You Want to Finalize Your Uncontested Divorce?
One major advantage of hiring an attorney for your uncontested divorce is the speed it takes to finalize the divorce. Your attorney can electronically file and serve court documents. Your attorney can electronically schedule a final hearing. In some cases, your attorney can file special interrogatories and avoid the need for a final hearing altogether. If you represent yourself, or use a document service, the process will take much longer. (Potentially months longer).
Fee Estimator for Uncontested Divorce
In regard to the estimator:
- The increase in cost for real property is on a per parcel basis. So, if you have multiple parcels of real property, you will need to increase the estimate by $500 per additional parcel.
- I refer the preparation of orders dividing retirement accounts to an attorney who limits his practice to that single area. The estimate is based on a per retirement account basis, so you will need to increase the estimate by $800 per additional retirement account if there is more than one account to be divided.
One final point. The fee estimator is not intended to provide a reasonable estimate for high income, high net worth couples. Such cases usually have added complexity that is outside the scope of the estimator.