Divorce has many consequences—emotional, legal, and financial. Along with the costs of splitting up a household and property, you need to consider the expenses of the divorce itself. It’s impossible to predict exactly how much your own divorce will cost, but it can help to get an idea of typical divorce expenses in Minnesota. And if you want to keep your costs as low as possible, it can also help to know what makes some divorces more expensive than others.
In order to arm you with that kind of information, we conducted a survey of readers who recently went through a divorce, both nationally and in Minnesota. We also studied the fees and billing practices that Minnesota family law attorneys reported. After comparing and analyzing the results, here’s what learned about the cost of divorce in Minnesota.
The Cost of a Divorce Lawyer in Minnesota
More than two-thirds of the readers in our survey hired an attorney to help with their divorce. For those readers, the lawyer’s fee accounted for the bulk of their divorce-related expenses. Two elements go into that final bill: the lawyer’s hourly rate and the total number of hours needed to resolve the issues in your divorce. Let’s look at how those factors play out in Minnesota.
How Much Do Minnesota Divorce Lawyers Charge per Hour?
The attorneys in our study reported the range of hourly rates they charge clients. The average minimum across Minnesota was $215 per hour, and the average maximum was $255 per hour. Especially at the upper end of the range, those averages are below than the national average rates for family lawyers. And they’re much lower than hourly rates in expensive coastal states like New York and California.
In addition to differences from state to state, there are two main reasons that you may encounter higher or lower hourly rates:
- Location within Minnesota. Attorneys with offices in big cities like the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan region usually charge higher hourly rates than their counterparts in smaller towns. That’s largely a reflection of the higher cost of living in big cities.
- Expertise in family law. Experienced attorneys who specialize in family law usually charge more per hour than practitioners with less expertise. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean higher total bills for seasoned family law specialists, because they can often handle difficulties in divorces more efficiently than lawyers who are new to the field or have general practices.
What’s the Typical Total Cost for a Minnesota Divorce Lawyer?
As our survey showed, not only do most people hire divorce lawyers, but they overwhelmingly choose what’s known as full-scope representation—meaning that the attorney handles everything in their divorce case, from start to finish. That’s why we focused on the cost of full-scope attorneys when we studied total expenses in typical Minnesota divorces.
Based on the combined data from our reader survey and attorney study, our analysis showed that the average total cost of a full-scope divorce attorney in Minnesota ranges from $9,000 to $10,800 (based on minimum and maximum hourly rates). But that average range applies across all divorces in the state. Your expenses could be significantly higher or lower, depending on the nature and number of disputes in your case—and whether you and your spouse can settle those disputes.
How Disputes and Trial Affect the Cost of Divorce in Minnesota
It should come as no surprise that many couples who are splitting up have disagreements about issues in their divorce. The most important of those issues are:
Disputes over these issues are the most significant driver of divorce costs. When you and your spouse have difficulty coming to an agreement about these issues, your lawyer will need to spend time on discovery—the process of collecting and exchanging financial documents, conducting depositions, and so on. And if your spouse doesn’t cooperate with discovery, or if either of you asks for a temporary order for support or custody, your lawyer will also have to prepare motions and attend court hearings. Negotiations with your spouse’s attorney also take time. And if those negotiations don’t result in a settlement agreement resolving all of the contested issues, it will take even more time to prepare for and represent you in a divorce trial.
In order to see how these contested issues affect divorce costs in Minnesota, we studied average attorneys’ fees under the most common scenarios. Based on an analysis of the combined data from the attorney study and reader survey, the results showed that in cases with no contested issues, the average total cost of a Minnesota divorce is $3,200-$3,900 (with the range based on minimum and maximum hourly fees). In cases where the couples settled their disputes, average costs were $4,700-$5,700 with one dispute and $8,100-$9,800 with two or more disputes. Going to trial on at least two issues brought average total expenses to $15,100-$18,200.
What Other Expenses Contribute to the Cost of Divorce?
Divorces do involve costs other than attorneys’ fees. Along with the Minnesota district court filing fees for divorce ($365 in 2020), there are additional fees for serving papers on your spouse and filing motions. You might also face fees for a mediator and experts like child custody evaluators or financial analysts. While our national survey showed an average of $1,600 for these non-lawyer expenses, actual costs can vary widely depending on the circumstances in your case.
More Information and Resources on Minnesota Divorce
If you and your spouse don’t have children and own little property, you may be able to save time and money by using a streamlined divorce process in Minnesota known as summary dissolution. (Learn more about the requirements for an uncontested divorce in Minnesota.)
And follow the links below for more useful information about divorce in Minnesota:
- Articles on divorce in Minnesota from Divorcenet.com
- Minnesota Judicial Branch: Divorce Self-Help Center
- Minnesota Child-Support Guidelines Calculator