How Much Will A Divorce Cost Me?

We have the responsibility to tell every potential client that we “aren’t sure.” Now…how’s that for building credibility with someone who wants to entrust their life with you for a bit?

The truth is that we really don’t know how much a divorce is going to cost in the end. An attorney who tells you they do probably isn’t being up front with you. A host of issues beyond our control play a part in every case. Much depends on what county your case is filed in, what the mindset of the opposing attorney is, who the judge is in your case and what issues are contested.

Your case has a 95% probability of settling before trial. The overall costs associated with the case depend greatly on the point in time your case is resolved. With contested cases, we require an initial retainer paid to the firm which is then placed into our client trust account. We draw on that money as we perform work on the file. The retainer is refundable, meaning if money remains following the conclusion of your case it is returned to you. On the other hand, if we use up the initial retainer and your case has yet to conclude, we require you to replenish the trust account in an amount equal to anticipated work on the file in the near future.

To offer a few examples, we have had contested cases settle after just one month of negotiation and the involvement of a couple of experts. The total fees in that case were approximately $3,500.00 per side. On the other hand, we have had cases that were tried 18 months after they were filed with the District Court. Trial lasted about a week. Issues including domestic abuse, child custody and parental alienation were involved. Numerous experts were retained. The fees and costs in that complex, disputed case totaled over $35,000.

We take a common sense approach to family cases. The $35,000 trial-destined to actions make up very small share of the cases we handle. The vast majority cost far less, as long as the parties are willing to be reasonable and flexible when it comes time to make the tough decisions. While we can’t answer the ultimate question of how much your case will cost, we hope the foregoing information provides some sort of guidance for you as you prepare to budget for your divorce.

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Can I Recover Attorney Fees & Costs During Divorce?

There are two ways for litigants recover attorney’s fees from the other party in a Minnesota divorce. The first involves need-based fees. The second involves fees awarded because of inappropriate behavior (“bad-faith conduct”) on the part of the other party.

For a fee request based on need, the court is required to award fees and costs in order to enable a party to carry on or contest the dissolution if it finds that the fees are necessary for a good-faith assertion of the party’s rights, the fees sought will not contribute unnecessarily to the length and expense of the preceding, the party from whom fees are sought has the ability to pay them, and the party seeking fees does not have the ability to pay them.

A fee award may also be made based upon bad-faith conduct. The fee award will likely be based upon the fact that one party unreasonably contributes to the length or expense of the preceding.  This generally means that a litigant must go above and beyond the norm of advocacy in terms of proceeding with their case. The mere fact they are contesting issues and requesting a trial does not necessarily mean that have engaged in “unreasonable” conduct.

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