The expenses associated with a divorce can pile up, from legal fees to child support and beyond. In Florida, the cost of a divorce depends on several factors, such as the division of assets, child support, alimony, and court costs. With so much to account for, navigating the many decisions and expenses associated with divorce can be challenging.
Located on Florida’s Treasure Coast, the experienced family law lawyers at The Law Offices of Travis R. Walker, P.A., specialize in divorce, probate, custody, guardianship, estate planning, and trust litigation. We have a wealth of legal expertise, helping us guide clients through the divorce process compassionately and efficiently.
We know how essential it is for our clients to understand the cost of filing for divorce in Florida before starting the process. Budgeting for the expenses before the process ensures you can start moving forward on steady ground.
Understanding the Financial Implications of Divorce in Florida
There are several financial aspects to consider when calculating the cost of a divorce in Florida, including:
- Division of shared property
- Shared debts
- Children or other dependents
- Alimony, if you or your spouse plan to ask for it
- Filing costs
- Legal representation
- Court costs
Florida has multiple types of divorces, the simplest and least expensive of which is a simplified dissolution of marriage. This involves a divorce in which you and your spouse have worked out all details of the separation amongst yourselves, including alimony, the division of property, and child custody and visitation rights. The paperwork involved is the first of a two-step process in which you and your spouse must produce proof of Florida residence and sign the paperwork at the county clerk’s office, then attend a final hearing to confirm the marriage’s dissolution.
The process is more complicated when the spouses don’t agree on the details. The complexity, time, and cost all depend on the exact circumstances of the case. The scenarios include divorces without shared property or children, those with shared property but no children, and those with children.
You will likely require legal assistance for these types of divorces, and costs will vary depending on what you and your spouse each ask for and how quickly you can reach an acceptable compromise.
Factors Affecting the Cost of Divorce in Florida
The average cost of a divorce in Florida depends on various factors, including your legal and filing fees, child custody and support, property division, and alimony.
Legal Fees and Attorney Expenses
Divorce lawyers in Florida usually charge an hourly rate for their services. The national average hourly rate for family lawyers is $225 to $310, and the Sunshine State’s averages are generally a bit above that due to the slightly higher-than-average cost of living in Florida. Family law attorneys typically require a retainer payment upfront, which they will draw from for their hourly charge as they do the work. The typical retainer ranges from $2,000 to $5,000.
Since these costs are based on billable hours, the final total will depend heavily on how long the conflict lasts before the couple reaches an agreement and whether the matter must be decided in court.
Court Filing Fees and Associated Costs
The clerk’s filing fee for divorce in Florida is approximately $400, and some counties may require you to pay an additional $10 to $15 fee if you are representing yourself. There may also be additional fees for serving the other spouse with divorce papers. The complexities of your specific case may cause you to go to trial against your spouse, which would incur further expenses.
If you cannot pay the filing fees because you live on a fixed income, you may be eligible to apply for a determination of civil indigent status. If this is granted, the filing fees will be waived.
Mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution Expenses
Alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, can save you and your spouse both time and money. Mediation can help you reach a legally enforceable compromise without going to trial. This method also gives you and your spouse control over the final agreement rather than depending on a judge or jury’s verdict to decide your future.
Financial Considerations Related to Child Custody and Support
A custody battle is understandably a more expensive undertaking than an uncontested divorce. As child custody is a deeply personal, life-altering decision that Florida courts do not take lightly, the cost of divorce in Florida with a child or multiple children can become much higher than divorce cases that do not involve children.
Florida Statutes Ch. 61 Sec. 30 govern child support amounts and guidelines. The specific amounts are usually calculated based on the parent’s monthly net income and the number of children they share with their spouse. The court may award child support at five percent above or below the guideline amounts if relevant factors, including “the needs of the child(ren), age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent,” indicate that they should do so.
Property Division and Alimony Considerations
Florida is an equitable division state, meaning that a judge and jury will try to find the fairest way to divide an estate between spouses depending on their circumstances. Marital property and real estate in a Florida divorce are usually valued at the fair market price for which a third party would buy the property on the date of the divorce petition. The assets are then divided between spouses fairly based on that value.
Alimony is not as prescriptive as child support costs and the court decides it based on multiple factors. The general principle for alimony in Florida is that both spouses should be able to retain the same standard of living after their marriage as they had during it. Other considerations include how long your marriage lasted and the parties’ ages, emotional and physical conditions, financial resources, earning capacities, education levels, and more, as laid out in Florida Statutes Ch. 61 Sec. 8.
Additional Fees Involved in a Florida Divorce
On top of legal fees and court expenses, you may need to hire additional support for your Florida divorce case. Forensic accountants can aid in cases where you suspect your spouse is lying about annual income or your spouse contests your income. Additionally, appraisers determine the court distributes the value of your assets, and expert witnesses may also be necessary to prove your side of a case in front of a jury. If trust litigation becomes necessary, additional costs will apply.
Strategies for Managing Divorce Costs in Florida
Several strategies exist for effective financial planning and budgeting during divorce, such as:
- Speaking to attorneys and accountants about the costs associated with divorce before starting the process and creating a budget to afford them
- Hiring an experienced lawyer that can help you make informed financial decisions throughout the process
- Exploring your options for lower legal expenses through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation
- Considering the long-term financial implications of your divorce with the advice of qualified professionals, including trusted legal and accounting teams
You can make the record-gathering part of your attorney’s work faster and easier by:
- Gathering financial statements for all of your assets ahead of time
- Creating an inventory of the assets owned individually by you, by your spouse, and shared between the two of you
- Tracking your income and expenses to help make your case
- Separating your finances from your spouse’s finances as soon as possible
Seeking Legal Guidance for Divorce in Florida
Before filing for divorce in Florida, it is paramount that you consult with a caring, experienced divorce attorney who can help you mitigate the costs associated with this decision. The award-winning attorneys and support staff at The Law Offices of Travis R. Walker, P.A., will use our skills, knowledge, and compassion to make one of the most challenging times of your life easier, as we have for so many clients before.
Schedule a consultation to share your unique circumstances with us and better understand what costs to expect in your divorce. Contact our team at 772-708-0952 or fill out our contact form for further assistance and guidance.