The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
How Much Does Divorce Cost in Minnesota?
June 8, 2021
The average divorce cost in Minnesota is around $7,500 but can range anywhere from $3,000 to up to $100,000. Determining how much does a divorce cost in Minnesota depends on multiple factors, including the type of divorce attorney you hire.
What else affects the cost of divorce? And how can you make sure your divorce is as affordable as possible? We’re answering these questions and more in this guide, so keep reading.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Minnesota with Fixed Fees?
There are several fixed fees you’re required to pay when filing for divorce in Minnesota. These fees are court-mandated, meaning there’s typically no way to get around or reduce them. But you can control some other divorce costs.
Learn about fixed and variable divorce fees in Minnesota and tips on how to file for divorce affordably below.
Court Filing Fees
Minnesota courts charge a fee to file for divorce. Dissolving a marriage with or without children costs $365. There’s an additional $10 fee for the forms you and your former spouse need to fill out to make your divorce official.
Judges will waive filing fees in some rare cases. Usually, you only get a waiver if you can prove to the court that you cannot afford the fee.
In Minnesota, the law requires hand delivery of divorce papers. But the state explicitly forbids the spouse seeking the divorce from serving the documents himself or herself. Instead, you must hire someone to serve divorce papers for you.
There are two parties legally allowed to serve documents in Minnesota: your local Sheriff or a process server. Sheriffs’ civil processing fees vary by county. For example, the Sheriff in Ramsey County charges $70 per service while the Hennepin County Sheriff charges $80 to serve divorce papers.
The average cost of a professional process server is $53.99. However, Minnesota law defines a process server as a person aged 18 years or older who isn’t “party to the action.” In other words, your server can technically be any adult as long as that adult isn’t you, your former spouse, or anyone else named in the divorce proceedings.
Motion Filing Fees
In some cases, you or your spouse may need to file a motion before or during divorce proceedings. Motions request that the judge make a decision about a limited matter before the start of a trial. For example, if you fear injury from your former spouse, you may request a motion for a temporary restraining order.
Filing a motion before or during divorce proceedings will usually cost $50–$75. It’s free to file a domestic abuse/harassment motion in Minnesota. If you have to respond to a motion (i.e., if your spouse files one against you), you’ll also have to pay $50–$75.
Complicated divorces may require a third-party service.
This is often the case when there are a significant number of high-value assets on the line. To ensure the equitable division of your marital property, you and your spouse may need a third-party appriasal of your property. According to bankrate.com, one single-family home appraisal costs $300–$450. The actual cost to appraise your assets will depend on their size, value, and condition.
It’s also common to hire child custody evaluators when children are involved in a divorce. The custody evaluator will conduct interviews with the child and each parent to determine what’s best for the minor. Fees for custody evaluations vary. But expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to over $15,000.
Mediation Expert Fees
If you’ve ever researched how to get a divorce, you may know that divorces don’t always require attorneys. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) may be an option if you and your spouse are willing to work together.
During ADR, a mediator will help you and your spouse decide the terms of your divorce. Mediation experts are neutral parties that work for both spouses, meaning you can split the cost. A mediator could be a lawyer or another type of mediation professional.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mediators make a median pay of $30 per hour. Hiring an attorney to be your mediator can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 per hour. Yet, the cost is often worth it since the more experienced the mediator, the faster you and your spouse can come to an agreement, and the less you’ll pay in the end.
You and your spouse can finalize your divorce outside of court and for much less money if you both amicably agree on the terms. But when spouses can’t compromise, a Minnesota court will make decisions about the issue(s) for you. This is where a divorce attorney comes in.
Attorney fees are typically the highest cost during a divorce. The average US divorce attorney charges $250 per hour. This is only an average, meaning some attorneys charge more and others charge less. In Minnesota, the average attorney’s hourly fee ranges from $215–$255 depending on a few factors.
The Location Factor
The first factor is location. City lawyers are almost always pricier per hour than rural ones. This increased rate comes partly from the fact that urban lawyers receive greater demand for their services.
The current rural lawyer shortage has also spurred many firms to get creative with rates. Some law firms now provide flat fee services, which allows you to only pay for the divorce services you need. So, the first way to reduce divorce attorney costs is to seek out a firm offering flat fee services.
Your Minnesota Divorce Lawyer’s Expertise is a Factor
Another factor that impacts attorney rates is expertise. Young, inexperienced lawyers for divorce know they can’t compete against their tenured counterparts. So, they charge a lower hourly rate to attract business. The same thing goes for attorneys who have low success rates.
In addition to rates, you have to consider hours logged. Uncontested divorces where you and your spouse work out the terms of your divorce are always cheaper. Why? Because they’re quicker. Conversely, if you and your spouse need multiple trials to resolve disputes, your attorney will log more hours, and your final bill will be higher.
Factors Affecting Divorce Attorney Costs
By now, you may be wondering: what if you can’t afford the cost of an attorney? Should you represent yourself in a divorce? Technically, you don’t need an attorney to get a divorce in Minnesota. But if you do choose self-representation, the judge will expect you to follow court and local laws.
If you don’t want to represent yourself, there’s good news. You can cut divorce attorney fees by choosing an experienced lawyer with a reasonable hourly rate, working with your spouse to reduce the number of disputes needing resolution, or both. Here’s how.
The Type of Attorney You Hire
You may think hiring an inexperienced divorce lawyer will save you money. But because the attorney has less expertise, he or she will be less prepared to respond to complications in the case should they arise.
Worse, these lawyers may try to aggravate disputes just to make an extra buck. That’s why it’s always wiser to choose a reputable lawyer with divorce expertise, even if he or she has a higher hourly rate.
Good attorneys never increase conflict in your case just to pad their paychecks. An experienced divorce attorney knows how to handle complex matters and can speed up the process, logging fewer hours in the long run. That way, you’ll pay less for the total cost of representation.
The Complexity of Your Divorce
Complicated divorces are always more expensive. You’ll have to go to trial for each dispute you and your spouse can’t decide on your own. And the longer you spend in court, the higher your final divorce attorney bill will be. The most commons disputes during divorces include:
Child Custody: when you and your spouse can’t agree on how you will or will not share custody of your children
Child Support: when you and your spouse can’t agree on whether or how much child support should be paid
Division of Assets: when you and your spouse can’t agree on how you should divide your marital property (i.e., assets purchased during the marriage)
Division of Liabilities: when you and your spouse can’t agree on how you should divvy up marital debts (i.e., liabilities acquired during the marriage)
Spousal Maintenance: when you and your spouse can’t agree on how much and for how long alimony will be paid to the lesser-earning spouse
It’s understandable if you and your spouse have trouble agreeing on these crucial issues. However, resolving as many of these problems as possible outside of court can significantly reduce your attorney fees.
Looking for the Best Divorce Attorney in Minnesota?
When considering the divorce cost in Minnesota, you have to factor in court and attorney fees. You can’t control the fees courts require to file a divorce. But you can reduce the total cost of legal representation by compromising with your spouse or, when you can’t, by choosing an experienced attorney who knows how to fight for your rights.