When a relationship breaks down, it can be an extremely stressful time during which emotions run high. Divorce lawyers are there to help navigate the complex legal process at this overwhelming time. They offer legal advice when disagreements between spouses arise, such as decisions over child custody or ownership of property and assets. They can then help to form amicable dissolutions as quickly as possible while ensuring that both parties’ legal rights are respected.
If you are going through a divorce, you’ll want to find divorce law attorneys near you to help throughout the process. On this page, we share the role of a divorce attorney, advice on obtaining a divorce lawyer near you, and the costs you can expect.
A divorce lawyer (also known as a divorce attorney or a family practice lawyer) is a legal professional who practices in the area of civil law that governs marital separations. They use their knowledge of the law to navigate their client through the divorce process to obtain a fair settlement. In many cases, this is a difficult task due to the emotional nature of separations and divorces, such as feelings of resentment and betrayal between partners. In other instances, the process is straightforward and both couples can form an agreement amicably. In either case, the role of a divorce lawyer is the same: they are there to help reach a favorable outcome when a marriage is being dissolved. This includes ensuring that all agreements align with state law and protect their client's rights.
The main role of a divorce lawyer is to help you and your spouse negotiate a divorce settlement. This includes decisions about child custody, child support payments, alimony, and property division. Initially, they will do this by reviewing all the information for your case and making you aware of your legal rights, challenges you will likely face, and legal options available to you. They will then work with you to form a divorce settlement proposal to put forward to your ex-spouse and their attorney. Your divorce attorney will then participate in negotiations until a reasonable agreement is decided upon.
When divorces are contested and reasonable settlement agreements cannot be made regarding child arrangements and finances, divorce cases may go to court. When this happens, it is the role of your divorce attorney to prepare you, the client, for court hearings, depositions, and other legal proceedings. They will also update you on the progress of the case and handle all administrative duties to take pressure off of you at this difficult time.
When going through a divorce, it is not always necessary to hire divorce law attorneys near you. Some marriages end amicably and families can take a collaborative approach and resolve all legal issues among themselves. However, for the majority of marriages that end in divorce, couples don't see eye to eye. As such, you should consider hiring a divorce lawyer near you. Additionally, this ensures that your rights are fully protected. Other situations where it might be a good idea to hire a legal professional for help navigating the divorce process include the following:
If you do decide to hire a divorce lawyer near you, you must take your time. There are many divorce lawyers to choose from, and your decision needs to be right for your situation. Here are some factors you should consider when selecting which law offices to work with:
The average cost for a divorce lawyer varies significantly depending on your whereabouts and the firm's experience. Having said that, the hourly rate for divorce attorneys in the US ranges between $100 to $400+, with the average national rate at $270 per hour. How many hours you need to pay for depends entirely on the complexity of your divorce case. When there are no disputes, the average rate in the US is around $4,100, which increases to $10,600 for settled disputes and$20,400 for cases that go to trial. This can make it difficult to know what fees to expect and budget accordingly. Where possible, you could ask a divorce lawyer near you to provide a fixed fee cost or an estimate for the overall case.
It is common for divorce attorneys to charge for consultations. The cost of the consultation will vary depending on which law practice you choose. Some will charge their standard hourly rates for a consultation. For example, if a divorce lawyer charges $200 per hour, a one-hour consultation will also cost $200. In other cases, the law firms charge flat fees for all initial meetings with new clients. Occasionally, law firms will offer free consultations for divorces if you go ahead and hire one of the divorce attorneys. However, this is not standard practice.
You need to ask your potential divorce attorney about their experience in handling divorce cases and their strategy for your case. You’ll also want to ask how long they take to return phone calls and their procedure for emergencies. Don’t forget to ask about the costs and fees you will incur and for an estimate for the total cost.
The length of time a divorce takes depends on how quickly both spouses can agree on a settlement. In the US, it takes an average of 17 months for the divorce to be finalized.
If both spouses agree on decisions regarding finances and child care, an uncontested divorce can be done without a divorce lawyer. However, it is always advisable to hire a divorce lawyer near you to ensure your rights are protected and to help ease the stress at this difficult time.