Texas Divorce Laws

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Texas?

By:
Sophia Merton
Updated
April 5, 2022

One of the most common reasons that married couples get divorced in Texas has to do with financial issues. Having problems with or disagreements over money can put a lot of strain on a relationship. For some spouses, it is the primary reason that they decide to dissolve their marriage and go their separate ways. When deciding to end a marriage, many individuals are faced with two glaring questions: how much does a divorce cost in Texas and how much does a divorce lawyer cost?

An unfortunate irony here is that getting a divorce can be a huge financial burden in itself.

While high-income couples might be able to withstand tens of thousands of dollars in court and attorney fees, the cost of divorce is potentially financially ruinous for spouses in a lower income bracket.

How much it costs to get divorced in Texas can range from a few hundred dollars to more than $20,000.

It’s essential to understand the various factors that can influence the cost of a divorce to help ensure that you don’t get in over your head financially. On top of that, more expensive divorces indicate a lengthy divorce process, which isn’t just expensive but also incredibly stressful, time-consuming, and emotionally taxing.

The most substantial element that impacts the total cost of divorce is whether you hire an attorney. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about the cost of divorce in Texas as well as the cost of hiring a divorce lawyer so you can come up with a strategy that works for your circumstance and your finances.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Texas?

The cost of getting a divorce in Texas can range greatly depending on your particular circumstance. Later on in the article, we’ll break down the different factors that influence how much you should expect to pay for a divorce in the Lone Star State. First, though, let’s take a look at the average cost of divorce in Texas according to research conducted between 2015 and 2019.

person with wedding ring getting divorced in texas

How much it costs to get divorced in Texas can range widely depending on your situation.

These studies found that the average cost of getting a divorce in Texas is between $11,000 and $13,000.

Another commonly referenced study found that the average cost of getting a divorce in the state is $15,600 if there aren’t any children involved. For cases where there are children involved, the average cost according to this study is $23,500. Based on a report from USA Today, this makes Texas the fifth most expensive state in which to get a divorce both with and without children.

These numbers represent the average total cost, including both attorneys’ fees and other associated costs. However, it’s important to understand that people engaged in cases with no contested issues can typically spend quite a bit less on a divorce.

According to the same study, the average hourly cost of hiring Texas divorce lawyers is between $260 and $320 an hour.

While you can choose to try and save money by taking a DIY approach to your divorce, it’s worth noting that you would be in the minority. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents in these studies hired an attorney to assist them in at least some part of their divorce proceeding. Out of those that did hire a lawyer, 81% hired lawyers in order to handle the entirety of their case from start to finish. This is often referred to as “full-scope” representation.

For most couples that are going through a divorce in Texas, the lawyers’ bill will be, by far, the biggest expense. Most divorce attorneys charge by the hour, which means that how much it costs you to hire a lawyer depends on both their hourly rate and how long it takes for your case to be resolved.

What Factors Influence How Much a Divorce Costs?

As you’ve likely noticed, how much a divorce costs in Texas covers a pretty huge range. What determines how much you will be faced with paying depends on a number of different factors. Let’s take a look at some of the major aspects of a divorce that can influence the total cost.

The Filing Fee

While it might seem like a small cost compared to the potential costs of hiring a Texas divorce lawyer, there is some variation in how much the filing fee will cost you when you’re getting divorced. The cost of the fee depends on which county you are filing for a divorce in as well as if you are taking any additional steps such as filing for a temporary restraining order. If you are filing for additional protections, the fee will cost more.

In Texas, you can expect the filing fee to cost between $250 and $350 without any additional filings. It is commonly the Petitioner (i.e., the person who is filing for divorce) that is responsible for paying this fee. If both parties agree that they want to pursue a divorce, though, they might choose to split the filing fee.

If you are worried that you won’t be able to pay the filing fee, the state does offer an alternative. You can fill out a document known as a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs in order to have the filing fee waived so long as you meet certain qualifications.

Whether the Divorce Is Contested or Uncontested

One major factor that impacts how much getting a divorce in Texas is going to cost is whether or not the two parties involved agree on most, if not all, issues in question. Basically, if you are both interested in saving money during the divorce process, it’s recommended that you come to a mutual agreement on all major issues before bringing it to the courts. Of course, depending on your circumstance and relationship, this might be easier said than done.

On the other hand, if you and your spouse disagree on one or many major aspects of the divorce, you can expect the cost to increase pretty quickly. The more time that is needed to resolve your case using lawyers and the courts, the more expensive the entire ordeal will be.

The Marital Assets to Be Divided

If you and your spouse are getting divorced and you can’t agree on how to divide your property or debt, this decision will be made for you by the courts. The state of Texas is what is known as a community property state. This means that everything that was acquired during the time you were married should be divided equally between the two of you, with a few exceptions.

mansion as marital asset in divorce

How much a divorce is going to cost depends on a number of different factors, including how complicated it is to divide marital assets.

This is worth knowing if you are trying to propose that you receive a greater share of the assets than your spouse in divorce proceedings. Because the standard is to split assets and debts 50/50, it will likely take a lot of time and money to prove to the court that you should receive more than half of the marital assets (or less than half of the marital debt.)

Whether You Hire a Lawyer and Which Lawyer You Hire

It is often recommended that you talk to a handful of different attorneys before you select one to work with during a divorce. Though a difference of $25 or $50 in an attorney’s hourly rate might not seem like much, it can actually add up to quite a bit of savings when you’re talking about how many hours your lawyer could put into your case. It’s also important that you find an attorney that you feel comfortable working with and that you trust. You might decide that you are willing to pay a slightly higher hourly fee for an attorney that you truly believe will act in your best interest.

By far the cheapest way to get a divorce in Texas is to avoid hiring a lawyer entirely. However, one should not take on this decision lightly. While taking a DIY approach to a divorce might seem like the cheapest option, it’s possible that you could end up making mistakes that are so costly that hiring an attorney would have been the more affordable option after all.

Plus, when you don’t hire an attorney to help in your divorce case, it means that you will need to invest a lot of your time into navigating the divorce laws in Texas, filling out and filing divorce papers, calculating child support, negotiating the settlement, and so much more. Before you decide to do away with having a divorce lawyer entirely, consider whether or not you can afford the time cost and the potential cost of mistakes that could come along with representing yourself.

Whether You Have Children

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, a little more than half of the divorces in Texas in 2013 involved no children. 21.5% of divorces involved one child, while the remaining 23.7% of divorces involved two or more children.

children and divorce in texas

Getting divorced from a spouse that you share children with can make the process more complicated and therefore more expensive.

Whether there are children involved in a divorce can have a big influence on how much a divorce costs in Texas. Typically, divorces without children cost less than those with children. Why is this, you ask?

Basically, there are two primary reasons why a divorce that involves children might cost more than one that doesn’t. The first is that you will have to come to an agreement when it comes to child support, and the second is that you will need to design a custody arrangement and make a parenting plan.

If you and your spouse are in agreement about how you will deal with child support and custody, this doesn’t necessarily have to add that much in the way of expense. However, if you cannot come to an agreement, the court will get involved and the cost of your divorce will increase.

Your Choice of Divorce Process

One of the most important factors that will inform how much a divorce will cost is your choice of the divorce process. In the state of Texas, the three most common types of divorce processes are collaborative divorce, mediation, and divorce litigation.

If you are looking to lower the cost of your divorce, mediation and collaborative divorce are both methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). If you choose to undergo divorce litigation, getting a divorce can be quite a bit more expensive, as you will have to pay for higher court costs, legal fees, and other associated expenses.

If you choose to do a truly DIY divorce, every aspect of the process is handled by you and your spouse. While this is the cheapest way to get divorced, it’s important to ensure that you aren’t making costly mistakes along the way.

Divorce negotiation or mediation can range in formality from you and your spouse negotiating the terms of your divorce on your own to having your attorneys negotiate on your behalf. This option is less expensive than going to court, but you will have to pay for the lawyers based on their hourly rate.

Collaborative divorce involves each spouse being represented by an attorney. When a couple undergoes this type of divorce, they are agreeing to reach a settlement outside of the courtroom. The focus of this type of divorce process is to remain respectful and maintain dignity during the process, as going through the courts can be trying, vicious, and damaging.

While people usually assume that collaborative divorce is a way to save money versus litigation, the costs can add up quickly. This is particularly true if specialists are brought in to help support both individuals and their children as a part of the process.

Lastly, there is litigation. This is typically the most expensive way to get divorced. This is when the spouses have the courts decide on the outcome of one or several issues. In some instances, this might be the only option if there is an uncooperative spouse or the case involves substance abuse or domestic violence.

Going the litigation route will require significant lawyer fees and court costs. This is particularly the case if a trial is required.

Whether Alimony Is Involved

One of the most commonly contested issues in Texas divorces is that of alimony. If one spouse is requesting alimony and you aren’t able to agree on this issue outside of the courts, the divorce process gets more expensive. This is because it will require more time and effort in order to resolve the dispute.

As discussed above, litigation is one of the major factors that can quickly drive up divorce costs. For this reason, it’s a good idea to work with a divorce attorney to help you and your spouse negotiate alimony outside of the courtroom.

Are you wondering what you need to know about divorce if you are informally married? Check out our guide to common law marriage in Texas.

Who Pays for a Divorce in Texas?

Texas is a community property state. This means that any debt that has been accrued or any assets that have been earned during the marriage belong to both spouses equally. It also implies that, in the event of a divorce, all community property is subject to a “just and right” division between both parties involved.

This understanding of marital property also applies to the costs of divorce. Since spouses are still legally married until the divorce has been finalized, attorneys’ fees and the costs of divorce are also subject to this same type of division.

If it comes to it, a judge can decide what percentage of divorce fees each party is responsible for. In making this decision, the judge will usually look at each spouse’s financial circumstances. If one person makes the lion’s share of the money, the judge might rule that this person should pay a greater portion of the costs of divorce, up to requiring that they pay all of the expenses related to divorce.

A judge can also decide that one party should pay all of the divorce fees if they act in bad faith. This can mean failing to reveal all debts or assets, refusing to comply with discovery requests, or not complying with court orders.

Check out these cheap Texas divorce options if you're looking for ways to save money during your divorce.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Divorce If Both Parties Agree in Texas?

Getting an uncontested divorce is generally the cheapest way to get divorced in any U.S. state. If you and your spouse agree on all major issues, you can greatly reduce the cost of getting divorced.

The cost of a Texas uncontested divorce can range anywhere from $300 to $5,000. On the lower end of the spectrum, neither you nor your spouse are involving lawyers and are filing all the necessary paperwork on your own. On the higher end of the spectrum, both spouses are working with a lawyer but the costs are minimized because you aren’t paying legal fees associated with resolving contested issues.

Did you file for a divorce a while ago and are worried that your case is going to be dismissed? You can learn about whether divorce petitions expire here.

How Much Does Divorce Cost in Texas Without a Lawyer?

In most cases, it’s not recommended to get divorced without at least some help from a lawyer. The decisions being made during the divorce process have a major impact on your life after divorce, including your finances, your living situation, your relationship with your children, and your future financial prospects.

getting divorced in texas without a lawyer

Hiring an attorney is an expensive aspect of getting divorced, but it’s almost always worth the cost unless your circumstance is particularly straightforward.

That being said, it’s possible that your circumstance won’t necessarily require working with a lawyer. The more of the following points that are true, the more likely going without a lawyer could make sense:

  • You and your spouse don’t have a lot of shared property or debts
  • You are both on good terms and have mutually decided to get divorced
  • You have only been married for a brief period of time
  • You legitimately agree on all of the terms of your divorce or at least all of the major issues
  • Neither spouse depends on the other financially
  • You don’t have children or you have a shared parenting schedule that you have already agreed on

For instance, if you and your partner have only been married for a year, have no children, have maintained separate finances, and don’t own a home, you might find that you can get divorced without a lawyer. This is, of course, assuming that you have mutually agreed that getting divorced is the right option for both of you.

If you do end up going this route, it can mean that a divorce only costs you several hundred dollars rather than several thousand dollars (or tens of thousands of dollars.) This is because you will only have to pay filing fees which can range from $250 to $350 depending on your county and a few other court fees.

It is highly recommended that you work with a lawyer, at least to some extent, if any major issues are contested, if there are children involved without a previously agreed-upon parenting plan, or if the relationship has involved domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental health issues.

How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost in Texas?

According to research from Martindale-Nolo, the average cost of total legal fees per spouse in a US divorce was $11,300. The average hourly rate charged by attorneys in the United States can range greatly, sometimes as low as $100 an hour and sometimes as much as $400 or more per hour. This might leave you wondering, how much does a divorce lawyer cost in Texas?

two lawyers at podium disucssing cost of hiring lawyer in texas

The cost of hiring a divorce lawyer will depend on the particular circumstances of your divorce.

Unfortunately, Texas is not the cheapest state in which to get a divorce. As we’ll discuss later on, the average cost of a divorce in Texas, not including filing fees, comes in at about $12,500.

It’s important to consider how complicated your divorce is when you are trying to estimate how much it will cost to hire a lawyer. There are a variety of factors (see: “What Factors Influence the Cost of Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in Texas?”) that will impact how many hours a lawyer will need to spend working on your case, which will, in turn, influence how much it costs to hire a lawyer.

While hiring a lawyer is probably going to be the most costly part of getting divorced, there are additional costs that you’ll want to be aware of. We’ll discuss these a bit later in the section titled “What Other Costs Should I Know About in a Texas Divorce?”

According to FindLaw.com, the average divorce costs and attorneys fees not including the filing fee is $12,500 in Texas.

The average hourly rate for a Texas divorce lawyer is $300 an hour. However, factors like location and the complexity of your case can impact the hourly rate you should expect to pay.

How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost in Dallas?

Dallas divorce attorneys typically charge between $200 and $500 an hour. The hourly rate for an uncontested divorce without property, debts, or children is commonly about $225 per hour. If there are children involved in the divorce and there is property to be divided, the hourly rate will be more like $475.

In Dallas, the average cost of a contested divorce is just shy of $13,000.

How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost in Houston?

The average hourly rate for a divorce lawyer in Houston is $300 per hour. You can expect that the hourly rate can vary depending on the experience of the attorney as well as the particular details of your case.

If you hire a Houston divorce lawyer for an uncontested divorce without any children or property, you might only be looking at a flat fee starting from about $850 (not including the cost of filing fees.) However, if you’re embroiled in a contested case, it will typically cost no less than $15,000 in Houston.

How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost in Fort Worth?

A Fort Worth divorce attorney will commonly charge between $175 an hour and $325 an hour. The flat fee (excluding filing fees) for an uncontested divorce without children or assets is usually between $500 and $1000. Of course, you can expect that an uncontested divorce in Fort Worth will be much more costly.

Worried your spouse is going to try and pull something funny during your divorce? Be sure to familiarize yourself with the most common sneaky divorce tactics.

What Factors Influence the Cost of Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in Texas?

Hiring a lawyer to help you get divorced in Texas can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to potentially tens of thousands of dollars. This is a huge range, which means it isn’t particularly useful alone to help you gauge how much a divorce will cost.

dallas texas more expensive to hire a lawyer

There are a number of factors that influence how much a divorce lawyer charges per hour, including location.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that influence how much it will cost to hire a divorce lawyer, both in the hourly rate they charge and the total number of hours that a lawyer will put into a case.

Location

In the most populated cities and counties in Texas, you can expect that the hourly rates for divorce lawyers will be significantly higher than in rural parts of the state.

You might choose to take this into account if you and your spouse meet the residency requirements for two different counties as a result of not living together anymore. If you are willing to work together to get a divorce in the least expensive way possible, there’s a chance that filing in one county vs. another could provide quite a bit of savings overall.

Experience

As with most professional services, you will end up paying a higher hourly rate for a divorce attorney with decades of experience compared to a lawyer fresh out of law school.

Depending on how complicated your divorce is, you might be able to save some money by hiring a less experienced attorney. However, you’ll want to be realistic about whether the savings will be worth it when compared to what is at stake.

Fault Vs. No-Fault

In the state of Texas, you can either file for a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorce. A no-fault divorce is when neither party is accusing the other of being responsible for the marriage falling apart. A fault-based divorce is when one or both parties are accusing the other of being to blame for the divorce.

If your partner wronged you in some way that did legitimately lead to the dissolution of your marriage, it is totally understandable to want them to face consequences for their actions. That being said, the cost of a fault divorce is going to be significantly higher than a no-fault divorce. This type of divorce also typically takes quite a bit longer than a no-fault divorce.

For this reason, you might find that it is more advantageous to you in the big picture to file for a no-fault divorce even if you have compelling evidence to prove the fault of your spouse.

Contested Vs. Agreed

An agreed divorce (often referred to as an uncontested divorce) is significantly less costly than a contested divorce. When you pursue an agreed divorce, it means that you and your spouse are in agreement regarding all of the terms of the divorce.

couple fighting about divorce terms in contested divorce texas

If you and your spouse are getting a contested divorce, you can expect to have higher legal fees than if you are able to pursue an uncontested divorce.

If the two of you can decide on these terms on your own, it means you can avoid the cost of having professionals help you reach an agreement. There are a number of options other than taking your divorce to the courtroom, including mediation and collaborative divorce. While they might be more affordable than full-blown litigation, both of these options are still quite a bit more expensive than reaching a settlement on your own and pursuing an agreed divorce.

If you take a contested case all the way to court, a judge will ultimately decide the terms of your divorce. This is the most costly (not to mention time-consuming and stressful) way to get divorced and should be avoided if at all possible.

Alimony

If one of the contested issues in your divorce is spousal support (also known as alimony), you can realistically expect to pay more attorney fees than if you and your spouse come to an agreement about alimony on your own.

Though a lot of people worry that getting a prenup means you don't believe a marriage will last, it can actually be an incredibly useful tool for family financial planning. Learn what a woman should ask for in a prenup here.

Child Custody and Child Support

In the state of Texas, courts typically favor shared custody arrangements in divorce cases where there are children unless there are compelling reasons why this is not in the best interest of the children. If you want sole custody of your children, you will most likely have to prove to the court that your spouse isn’t fit to have custody of your children.

father with child at center of custody battle texas divorce

Involving lawyers in creating a parenting plan (or taking your trial to court) will increase the cost of your attorney’s fees.

You could also find yourself in a position where your spouse wants to take sole custody of your children. In that instance, you will have to prove in court that you aren’t unfit to act as a parent to your children. If you and your spouse take your disagreements over child custody and child support to trial, the entire divorce will be much more expensive than if you came to an agreement before filing.

Division of Assets and Debts

The more complicated your financial situation, the more expensive you can expect your lawyer’s fees to be. As with all other divorce terms, it’s much cheaper for you and your spouse to come to an agreement about how to divide assets and debts on your own.

If you have a disagreement about the division of property, you can work with a mediator to try and reach a settlement. You can attend mediation with or without a lawyer.

The more complicated negotiations are and the longer they take, the more your attorney’s fees will be. If you take it all the way to court, you can expect to pay much more than any of the other options.

Temporary Orders

The cost of hiring a divorce lawyer in Texas can also increase if your case will require a temporary order hearing or if you have to work to reach an agreement on temporary orders with the help of an attorney.

Overall Complexity

How complicated is your divorce? ​​In general, the more straightforward your divorce, the less expensive it will be. Things that can add complexity include children, substantial assets and debts, fault-based grounds for divorce, and more.

What Is a Retainer?

In Texas, it is common for family law attorneys to charge a retainer upfront. This is a specific amount of money that the lawyer receives from the client in order to secure their services. Basically, it’s like a down payment on your divorce case.

Retainers can range in amount greatly, often from $2,500 to $15,000. If the attorney believes that your case is exceptionally complicated, the retainer could be even more than that.

When you pay a retainer, the attorney places it in an escrow account. As they bill your hours on your case, they will draw money from the escrow account.

It’s possible that you’ll have to replenish the fund in the retainer if your case requires more hours worked than initially expected. When your case is over, you will receive any retainer funds that the lawyer didn’t use. When you have an initial consultation with a lawyer, you can ask them for a retainer quote on your case.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Divorce in Texas?

It is not legally required that you hire a lawyer to represent you when getting divorced in the state of Texas. When you represent yourself in a divorce case, you’re performing as a Pro Se Litigant. Just because you don’t have a legal responsibility to hire a lawyer, though, doesn’t mean you probably don’t want one.

There are a number of things you’ll want to consider when deciding whether you should hire a lawyer to get divorced. Scroll down to the section titled “How Do I Know If I Need a Lawyer in a Texas Divorce?” to get a better sense of whether your circumstance implies an answer one way or the other.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Divorced in Texas?

As we’ve discussed, there are a ton of different factors that will influence the total cost of divorce in Texas. According to research that was conducted between 2015 and 2019, however, the average cost of getting a divorce in Texas was between $11,000 and $13,000.

Another study claims that the average cost of a Texas divorce that doesn’t involve children is $15,600. The same study states that the average cost for a divorce that does have children involved in Texas costs $23,500.

Texas is the fifth most expensive state in which to get a divorce, whether or not you have children, according to a report from USA Today.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Texas Without a Lawyer?

If you and your spouse decide to get a divorce without a lawyer, you can save a lot of money that would otherwise go to attorney’s fees. You’ll only be paying filing fees and potentially a few other related court costs in this instance, which usually ranges between $150 and $350 depending on the county you live in.

Choosing to get divorced without a lawyer isn’t something you want to decide about lightly, though. When you represent yourself in a divorce, you are taking responsibility for the aspects of your divorce that an attorney would normally handle.

To learn more about how to file for divorce in Texas without a lawyer, check out our article on the topic.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Divorce If Both Parties Agree in Texas?

If you and your spouse agree on all terms and don’t have any real property, assets, debts, or children, you might choose to get a DIY divorce. This is by far the cheapest way to get divorced in Texas.

The cost of getting divorced without a lawyer will include filing fees and potentially a few additional court fees. The filing fees vary depending on what county you’re in, but they generally range between $150 and $350.

What this means is that your divorce could cost only a few hundred dollars rather than thousands of dollars.

If you and your spouse are pursuing an agreed divorce but you do have assets, debts, and children, you can still choose to abstain from hiring lawyers. The process will be more complicated, though, and you might find that it is worth working with an attorney to some extent to ensure that you aren’t making costly mistakes.

For example, you could hire a lawyer to review your settlement agreement or look over your paperwork.

The more complex your situation, the more cautious you should be when choosing to proceed without attorneys. If you do end up hiring divorce lawyers to help with your agreed divorce, it will still be quite a bit more affordable than taking a contested case to court.

Who Pays Attorney Fees in a Texas Divorce?

Since Texas is a community property state, and you aren’t considered divorce until it is finalized, the attorney fees both of you accrue are considered community debt. For this reason, attorney fees are considered during the discussions regarding the final property settlement.

At this time, both spouses and their respective attorneys will present a detailed report of all of the costs accrued over the course of the mediation or trial. Included in this report will also be the projected fees that will be required to bring the divorce to completion.

Ultimately, you and your spouse can decide who will pay for attorney’s fees on your own, through mediation, or a judge can decide for you. A judge will not necessarily split the allocation of legal debts evenly between spouses. For instance, a judge can order a spouse with a higher income to pay the attorney fees of their lower-earning spouse.

What Does a Lawyer Do In a Divorce?

Considering how steep attorney fees can be in a Texas divorce, you might be wondering what it is a divorce lawyer even does for you. Is it worth the cost?

A divorce attorney will handle the financial and custody aspects of your divorce while also working to protect your rights. Another essential service they provide is helping explain the law and the legal options available to you in your divorce.

When you hire a lawyer to get a divorce, they should review the details and documents related to your situation. This might include property value information, tax returns, paycheck stubs, and more. You will also share your account of the circumstance and let them know what you want out of the divorce. Based on the needs you have, they should give you advice that helps you reach the desired outcome.

Only about 10% of divorces go to trial in the United States. However, if your case does go to trial, your attorney will do a ton of work (for a price, of course) to prepare to present evidence before a judge. They will also provide both opening and closing statements as well as call on witnesses that support your case.

Your lawyer will also work to draft a settlement agreement, which is the document that outlines the division of assets, alimony, child custody, and more.

If you choose to undergo divorce mediation, you might not have to hire a lawyer if your divorce is simple. If it’s complex, though, you might want to have a lawyer while you go through mediation.

How Do You Get a Divorce When You Can’t Afford a Lawyer?

You have a few options for getting divorced when you can’t afford a lawyer in Texas.

The first option is getting a DIY divorce where you are only responsible for the filing fees. If you meet certain qualifications, you can also ask the court to waive your filing fees. This means that it is technically possible to get divorced for free in Texas.

However, you’ll have to do all of the work yourself if you’re filing for divorce without a lawyer. It is your responsibility to file the proper paperwork and generally drive the case forward.

If you can’t get a DIY divorce because your case is complicated, contested, or fault-based, there are some options for low-income couples.

It’s possible that you will qualify for help from a volunteer lawyers program or for legal aid in your area.

Each of these organizations will have its own criteria that need to be met in order to qualify for legal assistance. This might mean that you are required to fall 200% below Federal Poverty Guidelines, for example. In many instances, law school clinics will only take cases that are agreed with minimal property and no children.

While going this route can save you money on attorney’s fees if you qualify, you will generally pay in the form of an extended divorce process. Many people are interested in obtaining divorces with reduced or waived costs, and there is, therefore, usually a long waiting list. These lists can be anywhere from a few months to several years long.

How Do I Know If I Need a Lawyer in a Texas Divorce?

It can be incredibly tempting to try and avoid hiring a lawyer when you’re getting divorced in Texas. After all, legal fees often make up the majority of the cost of getting a divorce.

You aren’t required legally to get a lawyer in a Texas divorce. However, lawyers can offer a number of benefits, including:

  • Offering expert advice
  • Helping avoid costly mistakes
  • Avoiding delays
  • Creating binding agreements
  • Reducing stress

Of course, no one wants to take on the cost of attorney’s fees in a divorce if they could have easily gone through the process without the help of a lawyer. Here are some of the considerations you’ll want to think about when deciding whether you need to hire a lawyer:

  • Did my spouse already hire a lawyer? (If yes, you should probably get a lawyer)
  • Is the case contested or agreed upon? (If contested, you should probably hire a lawyer)
  • Are the grounds for divorce fault-based? (If yes, you should probably hire a lawyer)
  • Was the decision to divorce mutual? (If no, you might want to hire a lawyer)
  • Do we have significant assets or debts? (If yes, you might want to hire a lawyer)
  • Do we disagree about child support and custody? (If yes, you should probably hire a lawyer)
  • Do I expect my spouse will be uncooperative or vindictive? (If yes, you should probably hire a lawyer)

Avoiding attorney’s fees is great, but it won’t be worth the savings if you end up with an unideal outcome in the end.

What Other Costs Should I Know About in a Texas Divorce?

Attorney’s fees are definitely the big-ticket item when it comes to the cost of divorce, but it’s important to understand the additional costs so you can budget accordingly.

One major “cost” that many divorcing couples don’t give enough weight to is the cost of their time. The more complicated your divorce is, the more time it’s going to take to finalize your divorce.

Some of the additional fees you should be aware of when getting divorced in Texas include:

  • Court filing fees
  • Child care expenses
  • Potential lost income from work
  • Rent deposit or the down payment on a new place to live
  • Travel expenses (if either spouse no longer lives in town)
  • Expert witness fees (for example custody experts, property evaluations, and accountants)
  • Moving costs

There are also other costs that are less tangible but very real when it comes to getting divorced. For example, dissolving your marriage can be an incredibly emotional experience and deeply stressful. This can leave you feeling un-centered and a lot less on top of the ball than normal. In these instances, it’s easy to pick up small additional expenses that add up over time, such as getting take-out more often than usual or getting ill and missing work.

While the cheapest way to get a divorce is definitely to pursue an agreed divorce, this isn’t always possible. In fact, in some instances, a vindictive or uncooperative spouse might use sneaky divorce tactics to drag out the case and increase your lawyer fees.

If you and your spouse cannot pursue an agreed divorce because you have differing opinions on some of the terms of the divorce, you can try to keep attorney’s fees lower and avoid pricey litigation by going through divorce mediation.

Are You Getting Divorced in Texas?

Understanding how much a divorce costs in Texas can help you budget for an upcoming divorce. There are a lot of different decisions to be made when you’re dissolving a marriage, and it can feel pretty overwhelming.

Getting divorced can be a stressful and costly process, but by learning as much as you can ahead of time you can help keep your expenses low and reduce how long the divorce drags out.

Of course, it isn’t always possible to get divorced on good terms. After all, there are likely disagreements that led you and your spouse to pursue a divorce in the first place. However, if you both agree that you’d like to avoid an outcome where you are both on the hook for thousands of dollars of fees, you might also decide to find ways to settle major issues without the help of lawyers or the courts.

At TexasDivorceLaws.org, we believe that the best way to deal with getting a divorce is to understand the rights and responsibilities you have under the law. When you have a firm grasp of Texas Family Law, it means that you have the best possible chance of receiving an outcome that serves your best interest.

For more resources about family law in Texas, check out our blog about marriage, divorce, and family law in Texas.

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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