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How Much Does a Family Lawyer Cost?

Last Updated on December 27, 2023
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

A lot of people needing the help of a Family lawyer end up asking themselves how much would the services of this professional cost.

Recent studies have shown that the average cost of a family law attorney is between $150 to $500 per hour, with or without a retainer fee.

The complexity of the case is among the most important factors in figuring out its costs. There have been situations in which very complex cases heard before the Family Court ended up costing over $100,000 per person.

How much does a family lawyer cost?

The cost of a family lawyer is anywhere between $150 and $500 per hour with or without a retainer fee, depending on the type of case you have, the lawyer you go to, and the complexity of the case.

Family law attorney cost by common case types

Child custody case

Official sources point to a national average cost of child custody attorneys at around $250 an hour, but legal fees will differ depending on the complexity of the custody battle case.

Child custody lawyers charge, on average, between $225 and $350 per hour, with a low-end cost of $150 to $200 per hour, and a high-end fee of $350 to $450 per hour.

Guardianship case

Guardianship cases warrant attorney fees of $3,000 or more for the guardianship lawyer alone, although they will vary significantly based on each situation.

Child support case

Most child support attorneys charge around $100 to $500 per hour. This is a big range, but as a general rule, your average child support case will cost between $2,500 and $5,000. For especially complex cases, the total cost will be greater, especially if the lawyer has to deal with a high-conflict case.

Marriage dissolution case

When it comes to divorce lawyers, you should expect a retainer fee of $3,500 to $5,000 just to get started on the case. On top of this, expect an additional $350 to $500 per hour. Depending on the attorney you go to, they might first subtract hours from the retainer fee on your case first, and then start charging their hourly rate when you have no more retainer funds.

The overall cost will also be influenced by whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, as this will affect the complexity of the case.

As there are other different types of family law cases, like termination of parental rights, protection orders against domestic violence, paternity cases, and so on, the fee structures will also differ, although they will be pretty similar to the ones we went over above.

Family law attorney cost by location

Based on your location in the U.S., the cost of hiring a lawyer will also vary. Below, you will find the average costs of family law attorneys by state.

State Hourly Fee
Alabama $246.4/hour
Alaska $247.5/hour
Arizona $295.9/hour
Arkansas $264/hour
California $383.9/hour
Colorado $292.6/hour
Connecticut $396/hour
Delaware $379.5/hour
Florida $337.7/hour
Georgia $306.9/hour
Hawaii $357.5/hour
Idaho $250.8/hour
Illinois $324.5/hour
Indiana $268.4/hour
Iowa $268.4/hour
Kansas $286/hour
Kentucky $244.2/hour
Louisiana $277.2/hour
Maine $210.1/hour
Maryland $335.5/hour
Massachusetts $328.9/hour
Michigan $305.8/hour
Minnesota $270.6/hour
Mississippi $260.7/hour
Missouri $261.8/hour
Montana $233.2/hour
Nebraska $253/hour
Nevada $364.1/hour
New Hampshire $275/hour
New Jersey $379.5/hour
New Mexico $288.2/hour
New York $375.1/hour
North Carolina $290.4/hour
North Dakota $277.2/hour
Ohio $238.7/hour
Oklahoma $266.2/hour
Oregon $279.4/hour
Pennsylvania $290.4/hour
Rhode Island $322.3/hour
South Carolina $271.7/hour
South Dakota $235.4/hour
Tennessee $271.7/hour
Texas $331.1/hour
Utah $271.7/hour
Vermont $275/hour
Virginia $317.9/hour
Washington $290.4/hour
West Virginia $226.6/hour
Wisconsin $261.8/hour
Wyoming $259.6/hour

Factors Affecting the Fees of a Family Lawyer

As with any legal services offered by professionals, there will be a lot of factors affecting the final fees of the Family Lawyer, as each case is unique in its own way.

Here are some aspects you should consider:

Firm Location

A firm with its headquarters in a metropolitan area will usually charge more than a regional one or even a rural one.

Experience and Expertise of Lawyers

The expertise and experience of the lawyers will set them apart when it comes to the fees they will be charging. You might be charged between $3,500 and $6,500 per day in court by a senior associate in a final hearing. Working with a junior lawyer will mean less in fees due to their lower level of expertise.

A lawyer with more experience will be able to navigate through the system to a successful result more quickly, knowing how to properly negotiate and reach an appropriate outcome.

Complexity of Case

Family law matters involving relationship breakdown or issues with children will average around $30,000 per person.

When more complex financial or property factors come into play, including multiple entities like companies and trusts or substantial property pools, it’s not unusual for cases to reach prices of $100,000 per person.

Billing Methods

Lawyer with a familyWhen hiring a lawyer, you might be charged a retainer, which ranges between $2,000 and $20,000, depending on your specific situation and the law firm you go to, funds that will be used for preparation of the trial and attendance at the final trial. Once the trial goes through the retainer, only work and time spent by the lawyer will be charged at an hourly rate.

If fees are transferred in Trust and are unused when the final hearing reaches its conclusion, they will be refunded back to the client.

The attorney might also require between $1,000 and $5,000 in fixed fees in advance, to cover drafting of the documents for straightforward issues. Ligation also warrants fees between $5,000 and $30,000 for mediation or negotiations.

If you need expert witnesses, like valuers, accountants, or psychologists, you will also have to pay additional fees that can be anywhere between $2,000 and $15,000 or more.

Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Family Lawyer

  • What payment and billing options do you offer?
  • Are any aspects of my case open to a fixed fee agreement?
  • Can you offer any type of estimate of the total fees for my specific case?
  • What are the additional expenses to prepare for?
  • Will you charge emails, meetings, phone calls, or travel time additionally?

Final words

Each case is unique in its own way, so the fees a Family lawyer will charge will be different depending on the complexity of your case, the law firm you work with, your location, and so on. To make sure you control costs incurred for your specific case, try to take note of the Lawyers’ billing methods.