An uncontested divorce in Utah costs about $3,000, which includes an experienced divorce attorney’s fees, district fees, court filing fees, and legal documentation charges. However, if your spouse contests the divorce petition, the costs escalate depending upon:
- Divorce attorney’s reputation and experience
- Complications of the case
- Trial costs (if the case goes to trial)
Divorce Attorney’s Reputation and Experience
On average, divorce attorneys in Utah charge anywhere between $150 and $500 per hour depending upon experience, reputation, and location. For example, an inexperienced lawyer in a small town can charge as low as $150 per hour, while an experienced and reputed lawyer in Salt Lake City can charge as much as $500 per hour.
An experienced and reputed divorce attorney in Utah is usually thorough with court processes and has years of experience in handling negotiations with the ex-spouse’s lawyer or arguing before the judge. He can help you wrap up the case much sooner and more effectively than an inexperienced lawyer. We urge you to work with an experienced attorney who is focused on resolving divorce and child custody cases amicably.
Complications of the Case
When spouses agree on spousal support, child custody, child support, and property division, they do not contest the divorce petition, which makes things simple. However, when the other spouse contests your divorce petition, things can take a turn, and one or more of the following complications can crop up and increase the legal costs (and the time it takes to resolve the case):
- The spouses may disagree on child custody (physical or legal, sole or joint).
- The spouses may disagree on property division, child support, or alimony.
- The court may order a custody evaluation, which usually costs between $7,500 and $10,000, and takes around 6 to 9 months to complete.
- The court may order a psychological evaluation of the parents or the child.
- A guardian ad litem lawyer may have to be appointed for a child if he/she desires to live with one parent and the other parent does not agree.
- Tax, forensics, and property appraisal professionals, if required, also add to the costs.
- Division of 401(k), timeshares, stock options, and other such valuable assets may need to be appraised and the spouses will have to get a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) that provides instructions to the retirement plan administrator on how to split the assets. These items cost extra.
Though experienced divorce attorneys typically settle 98% to 99% of their cases amicably in the pre-trial stage, a few high-conflict cases need the court’s involvement. Naturally, cases that go to court need a higher attorney involvement. These cases take time to resolve and therefore cost more. On average, if the other spouse contests the divorce, it adds a minimum of $3,000 to $5,000 the legal costs estimated for an uncontested divorce. In some high-conflict cases, legal fees can shoot up beyond $50,000.