Anybody Can Represent Themselves in Court
Video Transcribed: How much does a divorce cost? I’m Tulsa divorce attorney James Wirth, and that’s the question that we have. How much does it cost to get divorced? And unfortunately, that is not a real simple question to answer, but I can provide some information for that. So, first off, in a divorce, you’re not required to have an attorney. It may make sense for you to have an attorney.
It may be a good idea to have an attorney, but no law requires you to have an attorney. Anybody can represent themselves in court if they have the ability to do that. So that’s the first thing, are you don’t have to pay for an attorney. If you know how to go through those processes and draft the paperwork.
The downside is that’s not really easy to do and even, under those circumstances, there are still court costs. So at least in Oklahoma, if you’re divorcing and need one sum as a server on the other side, the typical filing fee right now is $272 and 14 cents.
And that’s just the cost to get it filled and to have that summons. If you’re going to serve that summons on the other side, you can do that through certified mail, which costs a little bit more money. You can do it through a process server. Process servers generally charge somewhere between $50 and $100 and in more difficult cases, even more than that. So those are the basic costs.
If you put on a hearing you’re going to want to have a court reporter present for that. The court reporter charges a fee it’s generally $20. If you want to buy that transcript, they charge by the page. I think it’s three and a half dollars per page for the transcript. So those are some of the costs to expect. If you go to mediation, the mediator is going to charge a fee unless it’s a volunteer mediator, but that’s the general idea on that.
However, the bigger costs are when attorneys are involved, which is frequently the case, and necessarily perhaps the case. Because when you’re representing yourself there are no form pleadings that are at the courthouse. Some states like California have these checkbox pleadings. So you can go down to the court check some boxes, fill in some blanks, file a divorce petition. That’s not the way it is in Oklahoma. There are no form pleadings for divorce cases down at the Court Clerk’s Office.
So you’re going to have to either draft your own pleadings, hire a drafting service, or hire an attorney. So some drafting services like Payless Divorce or something like that and charge a couple of 100 dollars. We sometimes, at my office, do a lawyer drafting service. And the benefit of that is that we also provide legal advice that those other services are prohibited from providing. As long as drafting the paperwork, we charge a $500 flat fee for that.
The next day’s job is if we’re talking about agreed divorces. So that’s where it provides drafting legal representation, in court legal advice to help you get the job done, but there’s a complete agreement on all terms. So you guys agree to get divorced.
You have an agreement regarding debt division, asset division, custody, visitation, child support, alimony, attorney’s fees. All of that is agreed upon, if everything is agreed upon, we have an agreed divorce service for representation. We charge $150 for that. If we have to do a QDRO, there are some other complicated things, it could be a little bit more.
Then most cases that are not agreed you’re looking at the cost to retain an attorney and different attorneys handle it differently. They all charge their own rates. So you could call around to see how different people do it. Very few but maybe some attorneys might do family law cases on flat fees where they’re contested. Most of the time that’s a bad idea because there’s no idea how much work is going to go into it.
You can fight over… there’s an unlimited amount of work that can go into fighting on things if the people care about that stuff enough. So when you’re talking about fighting over custody, where it’s got an unlimited value to those parties, sometimes the cost can be very expensive because the time and effort put in are very expensive. So most of the time family law attorneys don’t do flat fees on contested matters, they do a retainer.
So a retainer is what you pay to the attorney to get them in the case. And then that retainer builds up hourly for work that’s done. So the attorney will have an hourly rate. Their staff may have an hourly rate that is separate.
And any work that’s done on the case builds up hourly, is paid out of the retainer. So typically at my office family law retainers anywhere from $2,500 up from there, depending on how complicated the case is and whether we think it’s going to be done early, or we’re looking at a trial retainer.
So long story short, there’s no real simple answer to how much is the divorce going to cost. It can vary anywhere from just the filing fee that someone’s handling at pro se. To years of complicated litigation, where you’re dealing with parenting coordinators, guardian ad litems, custody evaluators, psych evaluations, drug testing, professionals that come in and testify in addition to those. So sky sometimes is the limit when you’re fighting over things that mean a lot to people.
So the better answer for you might be, what do you expect your particular divorce under your circumstances to cost? And for that, you’re going to have to talk to an attorney privately about your confidential information to get that quote. If you want to talk to somebody at my office about that, you can get that scheduled by going to makelaweasy.com.