No matter your situation, divorce presents numerous challenges. Not only must you deal with the implications of separating physically, emotionally, and financially from your spouse, but you must also navigate a sea of paperwork, filing fees, and various expenses.
It is extremely difficult to predict how much your divorce will cost. Many factors play a role in how expensive the process becomes, from how your spouse responds to how long the divorce takes to the various unique issues involved.
That being said, there are certain costs associated with filing for divorce in Texas that you can safely assume you will need to shoulder:
- Filing fees, typically between $250 – $300
- Service/copy fees
- Professional fees for attorneys, mediators, custody evaluators, etc.
Additionally, divorces that go to trial generally end up costing more than those that resolve outside of the courtroom. While this should not be a deterrent to protecting your rights and best interests, it can be an important factor in deciding whether to contest various aspects of a divorce.
Factors That Play a Role in Divorce Costs
As previously mentioned, many elements play a role in the total cost of a given divorce.
- Whether the divorce is contested
- The complexity of the divorce
- The value of the couple’s shared/marital assets
- Whether there are children
- How long the divorce takes
- Whether mediation is appropriate/successful
- If the divorce can be settled vs. if it must go to trial
Generally speaking, the more issues you and your spouse can agree on—from child custody to the division of property—the more expedient and affordable your divorce will be. However, at Kay Polk, Attorney at Law, we understand that an agreeable resolution is not always possible. No matter the circumstances of your case, our Houston divorce attorneys can answer your questions and provide specific information regarding what you can expect from the process.
What If I Can’t Afford the Filing Fees?
Often, the beginning and end of the divorce process are the most expensive. When you file for divorce in Texas, you are required to pay a filing fee that typically ranges between $250 and $300, though the exact cost differs from county to county. Additionally, you will need to pay a service fee and an issuance fee if you need to have your spouse served with divorce papers.
The state of Texas recognizes that not everyone will be able to afford these fees. As such, it allows eligible individuals to file an Affidavit of Inability to Pay Court Costs. If the judge grants the request, the initial filing fees will be waived.
Who Is Eligible to Have Divorce Filing Fees Waived?
To be eligible to have the filing fees waived, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- You receive government assistance due to low income (e.g., food stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, etc.)
- You are unable to pay for basic household needs and court fees due to low income
- You are being represented by an attorney at no cost via a legal aid provider
- You applied for a free attorney and the legal aid provider found that you did not have sufficient funds to pay court fees, but they were unable to accept your case
When filing an Affidavit of Inability to Pay, you will need to provide information regarding the following:
- Your net household income (income after taxes)
- Your expenses
- Any dependents you have (children, stepchildren, etc.)
- Any government benefits you receive due to low income
You may also need to provide additional documentation supporting the statements you have made on the form, such as copies of your government assistance check, medical bills, etc.
Do I Really Need a Divorce Attorney?
For many people who are concerned about the cost of filing for divorce, hiring an attorney may seem like an unnecessary or out-of-reach luxury. In fact, having an experienced divorce lawyer on your side is one of the best ways to protect yourself against future financial uncertainty.
While hiring a lawyer may seem like a huge initial expense, working with an attorney can actually ensure that your rights are protected and that your divorce is resolved as quickly, efficiently, and effectively as possible. Your attorney will be able to negotiate with the other side and work to reach favorable agreements that protect your best interests. Depending on the specifics of your situation, this may involve navigating mediation, determining how assets will be divided, establishing who will keep the family home, and/or working to obtain spousal support (alimony) on your behalf.
While you are not required by law to have a divorce attorney, working with an experienced and compassionate legal team can make all the difference in both the process and outcome of your case. If you would like to learn more, we encourage you to reach out to our firm today.