How much does a divorce lawyer cost?

How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Australia?

At our firm in Melbourne the cost ranges from $660 to $330 for lawyers and $180 to $80 per hour for paralegals and support staff.  Most law firms charge by the hour as the scope of works can be hard to know in advance.

The hourly rate isn’t as important as the total cost.

Our typical clients spend about $5,000 for a property or children’s issue.

A divorce with no other issues costs $950 plus government fees (often $910) plus process servers fees.

Going to court for a simple property matter at a case assessment cost $4,000 plus.

Going to court for a contested first hearing costs minimum $5,000.

A day in court in a trial is about $5,000 a day, but fortunately it rarely happens.

Child support (without private school fees issues) is usually a lawyer free zone in the child support agency bureaucracy.

We ask clients to pay $550 when they make an appointment as this is probably the minimum they would spend to get advice and not take much more action.

Matters with voluminous financial documents cost more.  Hourly rates of the relevant staff member would apply.

Commonly a valuation report is necessary.  Real Estate valuations may cost $1,000 per real estate property.  Business valuations depend on the size of the business but maybe typically $6,000.

In children’s matters a private family report costs $6,600 or $3,300 per parent.

Sydney barristers and solicitors charge more than Melbourne.  We are in Melbourne and Dandenong.  Dandenong has Victoria’s only other full time Family Court Registry and has good value divorce solicitors and is served by the Melbourne barristers for the same costs as Melbourne.  Decent “junior” barristers are in the range of $1,100 to $3,300 per day in court in Melbourne.

Each issue costs more and different clients have different issues.  Solicitors and their clients have some choice in how many issues they pursue and far they pursue them.

When you are charged by the hour it is also the amount of hours that are charged as well as the hourly rate that matters.

10 tips for Best results at best cost

  1. Find an experienced divorce law firm. If they have dealt with similar issues before they can give the right advice efficiently.
  2. Get advice early. Start making the best decisions early.  Follow the advice.  A stitch in time saves nine.  It’s time consuming and expensive to fix early mistakes.
  3. Mediate children’s issues wherever possible after advice. You know your family better then a lawyer or a judge.  Money spent on legal fees for children may be necessary but it’s your money.
  4. In children’s matters focus on the children’s best interests moving forward. Some emotions are helpful and others are not.  A caring but practical lawyer helps you do this.
  5. In property matters act commercially, not emotionally. This will save time, money and wasted energy.  Use a lawyer for property matters even if you don’t need them for children’s issues and even if there is agreement.
  6. Narrow the issues. Identify with your lawyer the issues that must be fought and identify those that can be negotiated.  Maybe you have to go to court, but you don’t have to argue about every issue.  A good family lawyer will use your legal budget where it matters.  Court is the last resort.
  7. Do your homework. If your lawyer asks for financial information, get it yourself rather than letting your lawyers chase it down.  For example property matters require a form called a financial statement and the clients who read it and try to fill it out save themselves about $1,000.
  8. Simple issues should be dealt with by the least expensive staff in the lawyers office. Speak to the personal assistant or the junior lawyer if the senior partner isn’t required.  Organise your own documents or understand there will be a cost if someone else does it for you.
  9. Where time allows, be prepared. Especially in financial matters.  Gather information that your lawyer is likely to want to know, eg .  For example assets and liabilities.  Hoever don’t let it slow you down, a good lawyer can start to advise without 100% knowledge of the financials.
  10. Don’t waste time. Time is money.


One more:

Separation is possibly the worst emotional time of your life.  Family lawyers are drawn to this legal of work because they care about clients and the emotions of separation.  However it isn’t a good investment of time and money to use a lawyer as your sounding board for all your emotions.  Family and friends or other professionals are better for that.  A good family lawyer needs to know yours and even your ex-partner’s emotional state to devise tactics to deal with the other side.  Fight for your rights, but don’t get trapped into expensive emotion driven side issues.