We recently surveyed our Texas readers to find out about their experiences with divorce in the state. Here’s what we found out.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in Texas?
According to our survey results, the average Texas divorce cost $15,600, including $12,400 in attorneys' fees. That’s 22% higher than the national average of $12,800 in total divorce costs (with $10,100 in attorneys' fees).
What Hourly Rates Do Texas Divorce Attorneys Charge?
The average hourly rate for divorce attorneys in Texas is $300, but our readers reported a wide range in their divorce lawyers’ hourly rates—some were charged as little as $50 an hour, while others paid as much as $350 an hour.
Almost all divorce attorneys will bill you on an hourly basis. So, that hourly rate—plus the rate of any paralegals and other firm staff—factored with the total time spent on your divorce case will determine the amount of attorneys' fees you'll pay.
What Other Expenses Contribute to the Cost of Divorce in Texas?
After attorneys' fees, the rest of the total cost of a divorce comes from expenses, which includes fees for things like 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 Texas divorces were $3,300, somewhat higher than the national average of $2,700.
What Affects How Much Divorce Costs in Texas?
Divorce in Texas is more expensive if minor children are involved because of the amount of time involved in settling custody and support issues. When a Texas divorce involved child custody and support issues, the average cost was $23,500, including $19,800 in attorneys' fees. Compare these numbers to divorces without children in Texas, where the average cost dropped to $15,300, including $11,300 in attorneys' fees.
Going to Trial
The most expensive type of divorce in Texas is one that goes to trial, regardless of the issues involved. If your case is headed to trial, your attorney will need to spend additional hours preparing for and waging a courtroom battle. All of this work is billed at your attorney’s usual hourly rate, or in some cases, an increased fee for litigation. It’s easy to see why costs and fees usually skyrocket once a case goes into trial mode.
Filing a Fault Divorce
When you file your initial divorce paperwork, you have to list the reason, or “ground,” for the request to end your marriage. In Texas, you can pursue a no-fault or a fault divorce. A no-fault divorce is where neither spouse assigns any blame for the break up. As the ground you can simply cite “insupportability,” which means you and your spouse can no longer get along as a married couple, and there is no possibility that you’ll reconcile.
If you request a fault divorce, you’re telling the court that you believe your spouse caused the break up of the marriage based on one or more the of the following:
- cruel treatment (mental or physical abuse)
- long-term incarceration, or
In Texas, courts can consider either spouse’s adultery when deciding alimony and property division, which is why some spouses file for a fault divorce. With alimony, a judge can deny support to the spouse that had an affair. Courts also consider whether the spouse had an affair when that spouse is requested to pay alimony, if the affair was the reason for the divorce.
If you allege adultery, you also have to prove it with evidence that a judge finds both admissible and compelling; this increases your fees and costs. Your attorney may hire a private investigator to obtain evidence of the affair by tracking the “cheating” spouse, taking photographs of any rendezvous, and performing online searches of your spouse’s use of social media, dating sights, and the like.
In addition, your attorney will be working closely with the private investigator, reviewing the evidence obtained and maybe doing some of his or her own sleuthing, by reviewing bank account statements and email accounts. Once all of the evidence is gathered, your attorney will probably want to depose your spouse, the alleged paramour, and other potential witnesses about the affair. Finally, your attorney will need to produce this evidence at trial. All of this attorney time is billed by the hour, so your total fee will quickly skyrocket when you pursue this type of fault divorce.
Courts in Texas will also consider whether either spouse committed adultery when they divide property. If a cheating spouse wasted a significant amount of money on an affair (for example, for hotels, trips, and gifts for a paramour), then a court can order the cheating spouse to reimburse those funds to the other. To prove these amounts, a spouse may have to hire forensic accountants to locate and trace all deposits and withdrawals of numerous accounts.
How Long Does Divorce Take in Texas?
According to our survey, the average divorce in Texas took 12.5 months resolve, but our Texas readers reported ranges from 7 to 19 months to complete their divorce cases.
What Affects How Long Divorce Takes in Texas?
Although Texas doesn’t have a long, mandatory waiting period—only 60 days—several factors may cause a Texas divorce to drag out for many months, sometimes even years.
Fault versus no-fault divorce. For all the reasons a fault divorce will increase the cost of your divorce, it will also increase the duration.
Kids versus no kids. Psychological evaluations, court-ordered studies, financial questions, and high emotions mean that a divorce will take longer if it involves contested child custody and support issues. In Texas, divorce with kids took an average of almost 14 months to complete. Without kids, the average divorce in Texas took 10 months.
Going to trial. Our survey showed that divorcing couples who went to trial waited an average of 7 more months to finalize their divorce. It took an average of 17 months to complete divorces that went to trial, compared to 10 months for cases that settled.
Intentional delay. One of the spouses might use delay tactics to drag out the case, often in an effort to force the other side into a less-than-optimal settlement.
Simplified dissolution is available but not common. Texas does have a simplified divorce process, which is referred to as an “uncontested divorce,” but few couples qualify for it. To be eligible to file uncontested divorce forms in Texas, all of the following must be true:
- You and your spouse have no minor (under 18) children together.
- You and your spouse do not have an ongoing bankruptcy case.
- You and your spouse do not own property together and do not have retirement benefits to divide, and
- You and your spouse are not seeking alimony.
Helpful Links About Texas Divorce
Divorce in Texas (from Divorcenet)
Texas Child Support Formula
Texas Child Support Enforcement Agency