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Typical Divorce Litigation Fees


Summary:  Sometimes you have to litigate in court on account of the lack of cooperation, such as lack of disclosure. That can be a very expensive process. There are some techniques which will reduce your attorney fees.


A Limited Number of Divorce Cases Have to Go to a Court Trial

If one of the spouses is uncooperative and/or fails to provide proper disclosure, you may have to go to trial.  (But if there is a hiding of money or other property, you have to figure out how much you are willing to spend to try to show that.  Be careful.)

You may be able to have attorney fees awarded to you if you can show that the other party was uncooperative.  (But don't count on getting your attorney fees paid by the other party, because that is rare.)

Limiting Your Attorney Fees at Trial

If you have to go to trial with your divorce case, usually you can sharply reduce your attorney fees if you set your case for trial ASAP.

Setting your case for trial puts pressure on the other party to cooperate and settle.

Don't waste months fooling around with independent evaluators (such as CFIs, etc.) or drawn-out discovery.  However, some discovery may be necessary.

Set your case for trial ASAP and get it done with.

Sometimes a trial is the most efficient way to get the divorce done.  But rarely.

The Usual Process When You Are On the Path to a Divorce Trial

Since getting to a divorce trial usually takes 8 months to a year, you will likely have to spend a minimum of $5,000 for your divorce.

Most highly-contested divorce cases settle before trial, after the parties have spent $20,000 to $40,000 in attorney fees, particularly if several months of argument takes place before a trial.

They settle because the parties learn that they are wasting a lot of money and getting no benefits.

Examples of Out of Control Attorney Fees

1.  Many cases settle just prior to trial after $20,000 to $40,000 is spent by each party, because the parties finally figure out that they are getting no benefits and wasting a lot of money.

2. In one case where the opposing attorney fees were $166,000, there were no assets and little debt.  The dispute was over parenting time for two children.  The end result was exactly the same as what the initial settlement proposal was.  The high fees are often paid by parents or other family members, or remain unpaid and the attorney sues for a collection judgment and wage garnishment.

3.  I have been involved in a number of cases where opposing counsel has charged $7,500 to $11,000 by the time of the initial status conference.  The initial status conference is held 30 to 40 days after the case is filed.  That is hard to believe, but if one of the spouses enjoys the dispute process and wants to damage the other, there are a number of attorneys who will charge those high fees.  That is how you get to $40,000 very quickly, with no benefit.

4.  When there is a dispute over parenting time, the court often appoints a Child and Family Investigator (CFI).  I find that very rarely will a CFI make any difference in a divorce case.  The CFI fees and associated attorney fees usually run $4,000 to $10,000, and higher.  Usually the CFI involvement just adds fuel to the fire.

I can't think of any case where either party would go through a drawn-out disputed process if they could do it over again.

Was it worth it?  No!  (Because there is no benefit.)

GIF The material on this web site is for informational purposes only. This law firm practices only in Colorado. An attorney-client relationship is established only when an agreement as to the scope of representation and fees has been signed and a retainer paid. Colorado law may consider these web site materials to be attorney advertising. GIF
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