Texas Divorce Laws

How to Find an Affordable Divorce Attorney in Texas

By:
Sophia Merton
Updated
September 3, 2022

The average cost of divorce in Texas is about $15,600 when a couple is divorcing without any children. When there are children involved in the marriage, the average cost is $23,500. When you look at numbers like these, you might be wondering how to find an affordable divorce attorney in Texas.

Depending on your situation, you might be able to manage your divorce without hiring a lawyer. In many cases, though, enlisting the help of a legal professional to some extent is advisable.

Let’s take a look at how to find the legal help you need at a price you can afford.

Do I Need a Divorce Attorney in Texas?

The state of Texas doesn’t require you to hire an attorney when you’re getting divorced.

affordable lawyer in texas divorce

You don't have to hire a lawyer when you get divorced in Texas, but whether or not it's a good idea to represent yourself has to do with your particular case.

Hiring a lawyer, however, can be beneficial for a number of reasons, including:

  • Helping to reduce your stress
  • Offering expert advise
  • Ensuring you avoid costly mistakes
  • Drafting binding contracts and agreements
  • Helping to avoid delays in the process

Some people choose to get divorced in Texas without hiring attorneys. If your divorce is amicable and your finances aren’t complicated, you might find that you and your spouse are able to walk through the process without professional legal help. However, consulting an attorney is usually a good idea if you are facing any issues concerning children, property distribution, or spousal support.

Can We Hire One Attorney to Handle Our Divorce to Save Money?

Divorcing couples that have already reached an agreement regarding the terms of a divorce might be tempted to try and hire one attorney to save money during a divorce. Not only does it cost more to hire two attorneys, but divorcing spouses often worry that two lawyers can end up stirring up avoidable conflict.

Unfortunately, though, you can’t hire one divorce attorney to represent both parties in a divorce. The reason for this is that the spouses are seen as opposing parties in a lawsuit, and it would therefore be a conflict of interest as well as a violation of ethics to have one attorney represent both parties. This is true no matter how amicable the split is.

However, there are a number of ways you can limit the role of lawyers in your divorce to keep the cost of divorce down. These include:

  • Undergoing divorce mediation with a neutral attorney-mediator
  • Only one spouse hires a lawyer

We will take an in-depth look at both of these options further down in the article.

Do I Need a Divorce Attorney If My Spouse Has One?

If you are getting a divorce and you’ve learned that your spouse has already hired a lawyer, you most likely should hire your own attorney to represent you in the case. Divorces certainly occur frequently with one lawyer or no lawyers involved, and maybe you will find that hiring an attorney isn’t necessary for your situation.

divorce decree in hands of affordable texas divorce attorney

If your spouse has already hired a lawyer, you should probably hire an attorney to represent you in the case.

However, not hiring a lawyer when your spouse has one can put you in an unfavorable position. This is particularly the case if your divorce is contested. When one spouse has a lawyer and the other doesn’t in a divorce, it is often the case that the person who has legal representation ends up receiving a better outcome when the divorce is finalized than the spouse without a lawyer.

In the section “How to Reduce Costs When Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in Texas,” we’ll talk a bit more about only one spouse deliberately hiring a lawyer to help save money on the divorce overall.

How Much Does a Divorce Attorney Cost?

According to a national survey from Martindale-Nolo Research, the average total cost of divorce in the U.S. ranges from $7,000 to $23,000.

Divorce Attorneys: Hourly Rates

On average, divorce lawyers charge an hourly rate of $270, but there is a lot of variation when it comes to individual rates. 11% of respondents paid only $100 per hour, while 20% of respondents paid $400 an hour or more.

clock on wall with hourly rate of texas attorney for divorce

Many divorce lawyers charge by the hour, but hourly rates can vary widely.

There are significant regional differences in the hourly rates charged by divorce attorneys. In large cities and on the coasts, lawyers tend to charge a much higher hourly rate than in rural areas and non-coastal locations. While it might go without saying, the survey also found that more experienced attorneys also charge a higher hourly rate than divorce lawyers that are new to the practice.

The hourly rate, however, only gives you a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to how much your legal fees will add up to at the end of the divorce.

In the survey referenced above, it was found that people who hired a lawyer to handle everything in the entire case (known as a full scope divorce attorney) ended up paying $11,300 in lawyer fees, on average.

This number is skewed by a small number of people that had very high attorney’s fees, though. When you look at the median, which is perhaps a better picture of the typical costs of hiring a divorce lawyer, the number comes out to about $7,000.

Other Expenses

The biggest expense in your divorce will be the lawyer’s fees if you hire a full-scope divorce lawyer. That being said, there are other costs to getting divorced that you’ll want to incorporate into your sense of how expensive divorce will be in your particular case.

real estate being appraised in affordable texas divorce

There are a number of additional expenses you might need to pay in divorce, including the cost of real estate appraisers, tax professionals, and more.

There are court costs you’ll have to pay, including the filing fees.

Depending on your circumstances, you might also have to pay fees for:

  • Tax advisors
  • Real estate appraisers
  • Child custody evaluators
  • Other experts

In the Nolo survey, the average cost for these additional expenses among people who hired divorce attorneys was $1,480. The median for these costs was $500.

You can learn more about the cost of divorce in Texas here.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Divorce Lawyer in Texas?

Unfortunately, Texas is considered one of the more expensive states in which to get a divorce. According to a report from USA Today, the Lone Star State is the fifth most expensive state to get divorced in regardless of whether or not children are involved.

How much it will cost to hire a divorce lawyer in Texas will depend on the details of your case. Some of the factors that influence the cost of hiring a divorce lawyer include:

  • Your location
  • The experience of your lawyer
  • Whether your case is fault-based or no-fault
  • Whether your case is contested or agreed
  • Whether one spouse is requesting spousal support
  • Whether there are children involved
  • How complicated your estate is, including assets and debt

The average hourly rate for a divorce lawyer in Texas is $300 an hour. However, your location within Texas can play a role in how much your attorney charges by the hour. Let’s look at the typical hourly rates for some of the largest cities in Texas:

  • Dallas: Between $200 and $500 an hour
  • Houston: $300 an hour
  • Fort Worth: Between $175 and $325 an hour

The average cost of divorce and attorneys fees in Texas, not including the filing fee, is $12,500, according to FindLaw.com.

Estimates of the total cost of divorce in Texas vary depending on the source. One study conducted between 2015 and 2019 found that the average cost of divorce in Texas was between $11,000 and $13,000. Another study suggests that divorces without children cost an average of $15,600 in the Lone Star State, while divorces involving children cost an average of $23,500.

As you can see, the range of how much a divorce can cost is enormous. Considering that attorney’s fees are the bulk of the cost of divorce, focusing on reducing costs when hiring divorce lawyers can significantly reduce how expensive your divorce is.

How to Reduce Costs When Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in Texas

There are a number of creative ways to keep your costs down when it comes to attorney's fees in a divorce.

Mediation With a Neutral Attorney-Mediator

One popular option for divorcing couples that are interested in keeping the overall cost of divorce down is mediation. During divorce mediation, both parties can be ethically assisted by an attorney-mediator. The reason for this is that the mediator is acting as a neutral third party, rather than a representative of either spouse.

When you undergo mediation for your divorce, both spouses can receive legal information and even legal analysis from the mediator. However, the attorney mediator will refrain from giving legal advice to either party.

Basically, the mediator will work to educate each individual about their rights and responsibilities without taking sides or acting on behalf of either party.

The job of a mediator involves:

  • Helping the spouses gather information about assets and debts
  • Assisting the spouses in identifying any issues in the divorce
  • Helping the spouses develop options for settlement
  • Assisting the spouses in communication and negotiations to find resolutions that work for both parties and the family as a whole

When you are proactive about going through divorce mediation, you can help to keep the cost of divorce down. Mediation is typically much less expensive than divorce litigation, particularly when you pursue it early on in the process.

In cases where mediators work with unrepresented couples, they will usually recommend that each party has their own attorney review their agreements before they put their names on legally binding contracts. However, each individual is free to decide whether or not they want to have a lawyer review the settlement documents.

Even if both spouses want to hire their own lawyers, early mediation can help to keep the overall cost of divorce down as well as the level of conflict.

The cost of private divorce mediation can range quite a bit. Nationally, the price for mediation is usually between $3,000 and $8,000. This bill is typically split between the two parties, however. According to one source, the average cost of divorce mediation in Dallas is between $4,000 and $8,000.

One Spouse HIres a Divorce Lawyer

If you and your spouse have reached an agreement about all of the terms of your divorce, you could choose to have only one of you hire an attorney. While this can keep the overall cost of divorce down, you’ll want to be very careful when going this route– particularly if you are an unrepresented spouse.

The circumstances in which this could be appropriate include divorces where all of the following are true about the divorcing couple:

  • They have no children
  • They already went through early mediation
  • They have no joint debt
  • They have little or no property
  • They agree on all of the terms of the divorce
  • They don’t want to draw up the paperwork themselves

Usually, an attorney who only represents one party in a simple divorce that has gone through mediation or an uncontested divorce will charge a flat fee. This fee might cover a meeting to gather basic information and draft standard documents (including the petition and decree) between the client and a paralegal. It also might include:

  • A meeting with the attorney to go over the divorce decree in its final form
  • A limited number of phone calls and conversations
  • Processing the divorce decree and other necessary forms with the county courthouse

It is very important to understand the notion of attorney-client privilege if you and your spouse decide to only hire one lawyer. The attorney will have the duty to diligently represent the best interest of and provide legal advice to the party that hires them only. This means that the person who actually signs the representation contract with the attorney is the only one that receives the benefits of having a lawyer.

If the agreement were to fall apart during the process of getting divorced, for example, the divorce attorney is very likely to transition the case to billing at an hourly rate rather than a flat fee because they would consider the case to now be contested rather than uncontested.

Hiring a Consulting Attorney

If you are wary of the expense of hiring a full-scope attorney in your divorce, you might choose to keep the cost of divorce down by hiring a consulting attorney to help you with specific tasks. A consulting divorce lawyer might be able to help you:

  • Understand and fill out various divorce forms
  • Prepare for the mediation session
  • Draft and go over a proposed settlement agreement

You also might be able to hire a consulting attorney to represent you in court appearances.

Based on the Nolo national survey referenced earlier in the article, only one out of ten respondents hired a consulting attorney as a part of their divorce. However, the average total fees were $4,600 with a median of $3,000 for those who hired consulting lawyers, which is quite a bit cheaper than hiring a full-scope attorney.

Getting Divorced Without a Lawyer in Texas

Of course, there is always the option to get divorced without a lawyer. When your estate is simple, the divorce is agreed, and you don't have children, this can be a reasonable path to take. Other people might be good contenders for a DIY divorce, but it's important to understand the risks of forging forward without any legal help.

To learn more about representing yourself in a divorce, check out our guide to getting divorced in Texas without a lawyer.

How to Find an Affordable Divorce Attorney in Texas

Wondering where you can find an attorney that won't charge you an arm and a leg for their services? Here are some places to look.

Contact the Texas Bar Association

One way to find an affordable divorce attorney in Texas is to contact the Texas Bar Association. Their site has a search directory that allows you to look for lawyers that offer services based on a variety of fee options.

Their search function will let you answer a number of questions in order to find options that will fit your circumstances.

There is also a Lawyer Referral & Information Service offered by the Texas Bar Association that serves more than 246 counties in Texas. This service helps people that are seeking legal assistance find lawyers and other resources.

Check Into the Modest Means Programs in Texas

There are a number of different referral services, nonprofit law firms, and programs that aim to help middle-income Texans with the legal needs that they have. You can learn more about the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, the Texas Lawyer Referral Service, the Houston Lawyer Referral Service, and the American Family Law Center on the Modest Means Programs section of the Texas Bar Association site.

Ask For a Recommendation From a Local Non-Family Law Attorney or Accountant

Any family law attorney office you call will likely tell you that they are the best people to handle your case. “Affordable” divorce lawyers that advertise small retainers are often just trying to get you in the door before you burn through the initial retainer and end up owing them a lot more money.

One way to find neutral advice in terms of an affordable and good attorney is to speak with any non-family law attorneys or accountants you know. If there aren’t any legal or tax professionals in your network, you can also call a number of different offices and write down all of the recommendations you receive.

When you speak with these lawyers and accountants, ask them who they would use if they found themselves in a situation where they needed to protect their own interests. Of course, it’s always possible that these people have personal relationships with lawyers they would recommend, but calling a number of different offices should help you pin down some names that are worth following up on.

Divorce Attorney Options For Low-Income Couples

There are a number of options available to couples that are low-income in the state of Texas and are pursuing a divorce.

If you are seeking an attorney that you don’t have to pay for either through a legal aid organization, a law school, or other means, it’s worth noting that these types of programs can often have very long waiting lists. Divorce is expensive, and there are many people that are looking to save money or who simply cannot afford a divorce.

Asking the Court to Waive Court Fees

Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that you might qualify to have your court fees waived if you have a low income. You will need to fill out a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs or an Appeal Bond if you want to ask the court for a fee waiver.

This form is a way to communicate to the judge that you can’t pay the required court fees. It’s essential that you don’t leave any sections blank on the form and that you fill it out completely in either black or blue ink.

Asking the Court to Order Your Spouse to Pay For Your Attorney

If you aren’t able to afford a lawyer but your spouse can, you can ask the court to order your spouse to pay for your lawyer. This is typically referred to as “interim attorney’s fees.”

You will be more likely to be granted your request for interim attorney’s fees if the following are true:

  • Your spouse has significantly more financial resources than you do and
  • Your spouse has an attorney of his or her own and
  • The issues involved in your divorce are complicated

Finding a Pro Bono Lawyer

Pro bono lawyers are attorneys that agree to take on a portion of your case or all of your case at no cost to you. The best way to find one of these lawyers is to contact a program such as the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program which specializes in providing Pro Bono lawyers.

In order to apply for this type of help, you will probably have to attend a free legal clinic first. It is worth mentioning that there is no guarantee that you will get a Pro Bono lawyer by attending a legal clinic.

Also, some of these Pro Bono programs are designed specifically for certain types of individuals, such as veterans or low-income individuals. They will each have their own guidelines or requirements.

Working With a Legal Aid Organization

While Pro Bono lawyers aren’t paid for their time, lawyers that work with a legal aid organization are paid for their work by funders rather than the client. Examples of legal aid organizations include the Legal Services Corporation and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. To help you find legal aid organizations that might be able to assist you, you can use the Legal Help Finder from Texas Law Help.

Contact a Texas Law School

You can also sometimes get free legal help from law schools in Texas. In many cases, however, these programs only serve people that are dealing with simple divorces that don’t involve children. Since they each have their own qualifications, though, it certainly doesn’t hurt to call law schools in your area and find out what your options are.

If you're interested in saving money in your divorce, check out these cheap divorce options in Texas.

Potential Risks of Hiring a Cheap Divorce Attorney

Of course, you always want to be wary of people that are out to take advantage of you or scam you when hiring a divorce attorney. Everyone wants to spend as little money as possible on their divorce, but you don’t want to do so at the expense of a favorable outcome.

You should be very skeptical of law offices that offer flat fees of $200. The reason for this is that the filing fees in most Texas counties cost more than $200. On top of that, there are additional fees you will need to pay in a divorce, including hiring a process server and the cost of a citation.

You might also find lawyers that advertise $500 flat rate divorces. Considering the costs of filing fees and other associated expenses, it is unlikely that you will receive the type of services you are looking for at the rate. You might find that they are actually just selling you forms that you will need to fill out on your own and maybe some software if you’re lucky.

Are You Getting Divorced in Texas?

Divorce isn’t cheap, and it makes sense to try and save money when hiring a lawyer. After all, this is by far the most expensive part of getting a divorce. However, it’s important to make sure that you are still receiving quality legal services when you find a bargain or aren’t getting roped into an agreement that will ultimately leave you paying more money than you signed up for.

There are definitely ways to keep the cost of divorce down, and that doesn’t have to mean sacrificing having experienced legal representation on your side.

We hope to help empower Texans with knowledge about their rights and responsibilities under the law through our library of divorce resources. If you are getting divorced in Texas, be sure to check out the rest of our blog.

Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is a researcher and writer that aims to help make the complexities of the legal system understandable to the layperson. Believing that people can be empowered by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, Sophia aims to offer accurate and well-researched information in straightforward and easy-to-digest legal articles.

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