A divorce is a difficult time for both parties involved, in Louisiana or elsewhere. Costs vary widely based on whether the divorce is uncontested or contested. Simple uncontested divorces may cost a few hundred dollars, while complex, contested divorces may run into the thousands and beyond.
Basic Costs in Louisiana
Assuming both parties track down and prepare the relevant documents themselves, court costs will be the only fees. Each parish has a publicly available schedule of costs at the courthouse or on the court's website. An absolute no-frills uncontested divorce starts around $300-$350, with the cost rising if things such as restraining orders, serving of papers and judicial orders are needed.
Poor Filers and Legal Aid
Indigent filers in Louisiana can ask the court to rule them "In Forma Pauperis," meaning they don't have the money to pay filing and court costs upfront, but it is up to the individual to prove it. Poor filers may also qualify for low-cost or no-cost representation through a legal aid organization.
Do It Yourself Divorces
Websites and books that offer all the forms and information to file without an attorney are available. These packages can run from $30 to $300 on top of the court costs, though careful vetting of the provider should be part of the process for any Do It Yourself legal document.
Divorce Attorney Fee Structure
Attorneys usually charge by the hour, sometimes asking for an upfront deposit of a portion of their expected fees or building a payment structure into the agreement based on certain milestones. Attorneys that do a lot of divorce cases may have a flat-fee structure that covers the basic costs of the case such as the attorney's fee and business expenses, though filing and court costs may not be covered by a flat-fee agreement. Some may also work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if their client wins, but this is rare in divorce cases.
Uncontested Divorce Costs
The exact cost will vary based on location and the attorney's experience, but a completely uncontested divorce in Louisiana can cost from $300 to $2,000. If things such as child custody or business ownership are involved, the fees can rise quickly, even with an agreeable couple.
Contested Divorce Costs
Contested divorces can quickly become costly endeavors. Louisiana divorce lawyers charge from $150 an hour to $350 an hour and beyond, and very few will do contested divorces for a flat fee. In addition to attorney's fees, each court battle leads to filing costs and associated fees at the courthouse, as well as the business expenses of the attorney not included in the hourly rate. Also included in contested divorce costs would be paying for any experts that need to appear or work on the case, such as accountants and private investigators.