We recently surveyed our Florida readers to find out about their experiences with divorce in their state. Here’s what we found out.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in Florida?
According to our survey results, the average divorce in Florida cost $13,500, including $10,700 in attorneys' fees.
The average hourly fee charged by Florida divorce lawyers was $260 per hour. Our readers in Florida, however, reported a wide fluctuation in their divorce lawyers’ hourly rates—some were charged as little as $150 per hour, while others paid as much as $450 per hour.
Most Florida divorce attorneys bill on an hourly basis. So, the attorney's hourly rate—plus the rate of any paralegals and other firm staff—factored with the time spent on your divorce case will determine the amount of attorneys' fees you'll pay.
After attorneys' fees, the rest of divorce costs come from expenses, which includes fees for court filings, mediation, and the cost of copying and serving documents. Expenses also include compensation for expert witnesses and consultants, such as child custody evaluators, appraisers, or financial analysts. Average expenses in Florida divorces were $2,800.
What Affects How Much Divorce Costs in Florida?
A Florida divorce where the spouses are able to work through their concerns amicably can cost much less than the average, while a divorce with hotly disputed issues and accusations that need to be substantiated will cost more than the average.
Arguing Over Child Custody
Florida divorce cases involving children can be costly. According to our survey results, cases that involved child custody and support issues cost an average $20,300 to resolve, including $17,100 in attorneys' fees. Compare these numbers to divorces without children in Florida, where the average cost dropped to $13,200, including $9,700 in attorneys' fees.
Child custody disputes tend to be expensive because they’re often the most emotionally charged and therefore, the most challenging to settle. Parents may request, or a judge may order, a custody evaluation, which takes time, money, and court involvement.
Going to Trial
Trials are expensive because of the increased amount of time your attorney has to prepare for court (drafting pre-trial motions and trial briefs, additional discovery, preparing for witness testimony, preparing opening and closing statements) plus the full days in court. Fees for expert witness testimony add to the expense.
In Florida, courts may consider either spouse’s adultery when deciding whether to grant alimony and how much. So when a spouse is requesting alimony and has alleged (claimed) that the other spouse has committed adultery, expenses can increase, largely because of the cost of hiring private investigators to obtain proof of an affair. For more information, see divorcenet's article on how adultery affects alimony in Florida.
How Long Does Divorce Take in Florida?
According to our survey, the average divorce in Florida took 15 months resolve—almost 4 months longer than the 11-month national average. Our Florida readers reported ranges from 7 to 20 months for how long their divorces took. Divorce where custody is an issue can take longer. According to Florida divorce attorney Donna Baccarella, the psychological evaluations and court-ordered studies that are commonly required in custody disputes in Florida take a minimum of three months.
Note: Florida doesn't require that you and your spouse be separated for any length of time before you get divorced.
What Affects How Long Divorce Takes in Florida?
Although Florida doesn’t have a long, mandatory waiting period—only 20 days—several factors may cause a Florida divorce to drag out for many months, sometimes even years.
Kids versus no kids. In Florida, divorces with children are treated differently. When the divorce involves a minor child, the court can order one or both parents to attend marriage counseling or speak with a psychologist, psychiatrist, minister, priest, rabbi or any another qualified person (acceptable to the parents) before it will grant the divorce.
Courts in Florida can also "continue" (delay) divorce cases involving minor children for three months to see if the couple will reconcile. This, of course, adds to the length of the divorce process. In our survey, a Florida divorce with kids took an average of almost 17 months to complete. Without kids, the average divorce in Florida took 10 months.
Going to trial. Divorcing couples who went to trial waited an average of 5 more months to finalize their divorce. In total, it took an average of 17.5 months to complete divorces that went to trial, compared to 12.5 months for cases that settled.
A busy court calendar. Florida has one of the highest divorce rates in the United States. According to the National Vital Statistics System and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2012, Florida had 4.2 divorces for every 1,000 people, which puts it within the top 10 states for divorce. The high number of divorces in the state often translates into busy family courts and longer waiting times for hearings, trials, orders, and final judgments.
Simplified dissolution is available but not common. Florida has an expedited divorce process, but few couples qualify for it. In order to be eligible, all of the following must be true:
- The couple has no minor children together (and isn't expecting any).
- The couple has already worked out how they will divide all assets and debts.
- Neither spouse is requesting alimony.
According to our survey, this process is not used that often; only 25% of people divorcing in Florida have no child custody or child support issues and only 25% have no alimony issues.
The lack of a widely available expedited divorce process in Florida, plus the additional requirements and waiting periods placed on divorces with minor children, means Florida divorces take 32% more time to resolve compared with the national average.
Helpful Links About Florida Divorce
Divorce in Florida (from Divorcenet.com)
Florida Child Support Calculator
Florida Child Support Enforcement Agency