Published in Family Law on May 23, 2019.
Going through the breakup of a marriage is never easy. Even in cases where the decision to end the relationship was mutual, you need an experienced divorce lawyer in Indiana to make sure your rights and interests are protected.
One of the most frequent questions clients have concerns how much a divorce in Indiana costs. While there are some flat fees the court charges, much of the expense depends on the time and effort required to resolve your case.
Indiana does not recognize a difference between a Contested and an Uncontested Divorce. The difference in the two is how the parties act in resolving their case. Your filing fees are going to be the same in each scenario. The costs, however, are vastly different.
Expenses Involved in all Divorces
An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree to the terms and there are no disputes over marital property division, spousal and child support, or child custody. Under the Indiana Code (IC 31-15-1-2), couples may file for divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences, requiring only basic documents and limited court appearances. The procedures and costs include:
- Drafting and filing a divorce petition. For residents of Indianapolis, this petition is filed with the County Clerk’s office, which charges a $177 filing fee.
- Serving the petition. For a $28 fee, the Indianapolis Sheriff’s Office will ‘serve’ the petition to the other party.
- Private Service and Publication Service. Both of these costs vary based upon the location service is to take place and the individual costs of the publication and/or the process server.
The only other costs generally associated with an uncontested divorce case are the legal fees involved in drafting the position and making appearances with you in court.
Variable costs in Divorces
In a contested Indiana divorce case, you have the same basic filing fees as described above, though you’ll also have the costs of contesting the matters. This becomes based on the particular lawyer’s fees and costs. The total costs becomes summed up then with the effort involved in representation in the case. Here are some types of things that generally cause costs of representation to increase:
- Court motions: The more you file motions and make requests of the court, the more time your attorney spends drafting, research, and filing. While some are necessary, keep motions to a minimum. Remember each motion becomes an opportunity to appear before the court. Each time you appear before the court, attorney’s fees come with it.
- Discovery: This is necessary in almost every case. Though the more you pursue information from the other party, the more time your attorney will spend drafting the requests and reviewing the responses. It may not be necessary to subpoena every potential witness for a deposition prior to a trial. But if you suggest that to your attorney, you may find yourself paying to learn what you already knew. Likewise, some requests for documents are far more expeditious when sent to a business than they are when sent to the other party. The cheapest solution here is to provide your own documentation of things that are important to you.
- Expert Valuations: Not every case needs to have property appraised, but when there is a dispute over the value of a significant piece of real estate, pension, business, or the like, the parties may be better off paying for an expert to provide an opinion as to the value rather than spending hours in attorney’s fees disputing what the other party assigned the item. This can expedite a divorce and while there’s an additional cost it is typically less than the fight by your attorney. Business valuations usually run several thousand dollars depending on the complexity of the business. Other asset appraisals can be in the hundreds.
- Guardian ad Litem and Custody Evaluation: these trained personnel make recommendations to the court. The costs vary widely based upon the individual assigned or agreed to in the case. Usually, the cost for a Guardian ad Litem is less than a Custody Evaluation Expert. Discuss with your attorney why you believe one is necessary and listen to their thoughts. These are not always beneficial and the costs can really add up to thousands of dollars.
- Settlement negotiations: Your lawyer will attempt to resolve your case through negotiations. Either by phone or in person with you, your spouse, and the other lawyer. This is the least expensive way to resolve a case. Even though it often fails as there is no true “neutral” person to assist.
- Mediation: If negotiations do not reach a settlement, a referral to a mediator will be your next option. Ultimately, it’s likely that the hourly fee depends on the experience of the mediator. Also, the complexity of the issues involved. At a minimum, this is likely to cost several hundred dollars.
Divorce cases with our firm have ranged from less than $2000 to over $60,000. The main difference being the desire to fight in one or both parties.
Let Us Help You Today
Whatever the circumstances surrounding your divorce, having experienced legal representation is essential. Before making any decisions which could impact you personally and financially for years to come, contact Eskew Law and request a consultation with our Indiana divorce lawyer today.