How Much is a Divorce in Tennessee?

You’re headed for a permanent split and need to know how much is a divorce in Tennessee. Proper planning beforehand will help reduce the financial burden of the divorce process.

The national average for a divorce is $15,000 – but that doesn’t mean a lot because that’s just an average and it’s not specific to divorce in Tennessee. The average cost of divorce in Tennessee is $12,600.

Averages may or may not be a good indicator of the cost of YOUR divorce. And that’s what really matters, correct? You want to know about how much the divorce is going to cost you.

Let’s get into determining a ballpark of that cost for you.

How Much Is a Divorce: Factors to Consider

1 ) Is your divorce contested or uncontested?

If you both agree on everything, the divorce is uncontested and can be resolved rather quickly and inexpensively.

Contested divorces take longer and cost more. Whether or not that process is worth the price and time depend on your situation.

If your divorce goes to trial, it will likely take longer than a year. Divorces that avoid trial can frequently be resolved in less than a year.

2 ) The rates for the attorney(s)

You might find you get what you pay for in this regard.

We have numerous clients who came to us after trying to cut costs and opting to go with an attorney with a lower retainer and lower hourly rate.  Many times, even though the hourly rate is lower, that attorney takes longer to do things because the lower hourly rate is reflective of less experience or lower overhead (in which case you are paying for your attorney to do everything since they don’t have staff).  After not being able to reach counsel, late responses, improper filings, and too many unanswered questions, these clients wind up back in our office and paying more for us to try to fix the mess created by going the cheap route than they ever would have had they started with our office in the beginning.

You want to get an attorney who will be your advocate and help you get the settlement you want and deserve. You’ll need a proactive attorney who takes initiative and goes to bat for you. You still need to make sure you can afford your attorney. Sometimes, however, cutting corners on the frontend makes it significantly more expensive overall than hiring the more expensive attorney from the beginning.

Most attorneys charge a retainer to get started on your divorce before the hourly rates get charged.  These retainers are refundable, non-refundable, or evergreen, which means you deposit money and refill the retainer each month in the amount billed.

Picking the Right Attorney Based on Price

When looking for an attorney, you’ll want to base the decision on more than price alone. Paying less for an attorney can cost you a lot down the road. Likewise, overpaying for an attorney can hamper your short-term ability to cover the costs of alimony and child support.

You do not need to pay a brain surgeon to prescribe you antibiotics for a sinus infection. Divorce is the same way. If you have a simple case, don’t complicate it (and make it more expensive) by hiring the angriest, most expensive, and most litigious lawyer you can find. Look for someone great who won’t over-litigate your simple case to line their pockets instead of making sure to maximize your results.

Find a reliable attorney for a reasonable rate to help you navigate the choppy waters of a divorce. Consider talking briefly with multiple attorneys to find one that makes the most sense for you.  While we can’t guarantee what it will cost, we can give you estimates based on prior cases and a good divorce attorney will tell you if your desired trial strategy is out of your price range.

3 ) Child Custody

Kids are expensive. Fighting over the custody of them is no different. This can be a lengthy and arduous process that will rack up billable hours. The higher the hourly rate, the higher the cost of your child custody agreement.

The cases most likely to go to trial are ones with custody issues or life-time alimony cases. A trial is expensive. While you can never put a price on time with your children, be realistic about what you can afford so your attorney can properly maximize your result, and be upfront about this with attorneys when you meet with them.

Disputing child custody also affects alimony, so the longer this issue remains unresolved, the longer the alimony issue will remain unresolved.

Hopefully, everyone’s goal is keeping the children’s best interests the top priority. In this regard, you want to ensure the judge or mediator will have everything they need to adequately resolve the custody issue for your children.

4 ) Property & Alimony

The more entangled your assets, the more complicated the divorce process can be. Determining how to divide assets can be a hotly contested issue between parties.

A higher net worth tends to correlate to higher costs of divorce, as both parties would like to negotiate the assets. More assets being negotiated translates into more billed hours for the attorney, which means higher costs for you.  Further, you are more likely to require valuations of assets by experts, as well as in-depth depositions, both of which cost several thousand dollars.

A spouse requesting a larger amount of alimony or something different from an equal property share should expect a higher cost of the divorce to settle this dispute. When you request a larger amount of alimony or vary from equal property distribution, the party you want to provide for you financially might contest your request more firmly. The lawyers will get involved more heavily to conclude this dispute as the more you request, the more paying attorney fees to fight your request makes sense to the other party.

5 ) Mediation

Another option is to go through a mediator, then have an attorney draft the paperwork as an uncontested divorce if you reach a resolution at mediation.  If you are not using attorneys for mediation, make sure your mediator is also a divorce attorney in your county as judges may have quirks regarding this and you do not want to reach an agreement only to find that the judge won’t approve part of it.  A mediator charges an hourly rate similar to an attorney that is paid by one party or split between the parties. You are required to mediate in Tennessee before being permitted to set for a trial in contested divorces.

6) Collaborative divorce

Collaborative divorce is usually more expensive on the front end for less contested matters but can be significantly cheaper than a divorce that goes to trial. If both parties are amenable to a collaboration instead of going to court, the two of you can save a lot of time, money, and energy.

If collaboration fails, however, your attorney is not permitted to represent you for a divorce. Nor are you able to use anything obtained through the collaborative process except by agreement.

That said, collaborative divorce can be “cost-effective” in terms of the overall stress of the process. Since the purpose of collaborative divorce is to work amicably to reach a resolution that is best for the marital unit as a whole, instead of the adversarial process of trial, this can save you from hard feelings and animosity that result in prolonged litigation or worse, prolonged post-divorce litigation.

Not every case is right for a collaborative divorce. In cases where people have to co-parent, continue to work together, run in the same social or academic circles, or continue to own a business together, this is a very good option at minimizing the overall financial losses caused by divorce.

Conclusion for How Much is a Divorce?

There are so many things to consider when filing for a divorce in Tennessee. Cost is certainly a factor in your decision. Don’t pinch pennies upfront and just to pay dollars later though. Consult with an attorney so you can have your situation assessed professionally.  If you can’t afford our services, we may even be able to direct you to a better option. We can do this because we have first-hand knowledge of other divorce attorneys’ skills and strengths since we litigate with each other on a regular basis.

As you see, how much a divorce is in Tennessee largely depends on your situation. We’d be happy to help you.