Serving Clients in Knox, Blount, Anderson, Loudon, Sevier & Roane Counties

Four Stages of a Divorce

Very generally, the divorce process involves four stages. A strong Knoxville divorce attorney can guide you through all of them.

1. Initial Pleadings

In Stage One, we draft numerous initial pleadings, including at least a Summons, Complaint, Statistical Information Sheet, a Notice of Entry of Statutory Injunctions, a Notice of Pending Termination of Insurance Benefits, and (if there are children) a proposed Temporary Parenting Plan and Child Support Worksheet. We arrange filing, pay the Clerk of Court a filing fee (usually $350), and arrange for service of process (which usually costs about $75). The total cost of this phase of the process ranges between $1,000 and $1,500. If the opposing party agrees with our proposal, then we can usually have your divorce completed within 90 days and at a total cost of around $1,500-$2,000.

This rarely happens, hence Stage Two.

2. Discovery Phase

So, in Stage Two, which we call the Discovery Phase, we identify what subjects are in dispute, and we attempt to resolve those disputes. The first step is to collect information regarding the assets and debts of the parties, their income, their work schedules, and the needs of any children. We reference the 15 statutory custody considerations, the statutory considerations for alimony, and the law regarding division of property to come up with a fair plan to address any areas of disagreement.

We talk to the opposing party’s attorney informally, and we also formally ask questions and collect information, using tools like Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, Requests for Admissions, and Subpoenas, to ensure that we have a full picture. After our client feels confident that we have the full picture, we make one last proposal to try to resolve the case amicably. The cost of this phase is usually about $2,000. Assuming nothing unusual happens, we usually have this phase done within 90-120 days.

3. Mediation

If that fails, we move to Stage Three, which is mediation. Mediation is a process where the parties and their attorneys meet with a neutral third party, who is usually a trained attorney. That attorney’s purpose is to attempt to force a settlement. Our job in mediation is to assess the proposal from the other attorney and advise you as to whether it is fair, and whether we believe we could get you a better deal in court. It is a time to get a second opinion from another attorney about what we have proposed, to see if there are any weaknesses in our case that we may have missed, and to determine whether the areas of our disagreement are going to be worth the substantial cost and risk of going to trial.

Mediation usually runs our clients about $4,000, which includes our time preparing and attending, and the mediator’s typical fee. Assuming nothing bizarre happens and that there is at least some level of cooperation from the other attorney, we are usually able to schedule mediation between 3 and 5 months into the process.

4. Trial

If mediation fails, we are still usually able to predict how much it’s going to cost to prepare your case for trial. There will likely be motions to be filed, additional information to be gathered, experts to be consulted and retained, appraisals to be performed, and inspections. We will likely need to schedule at least three depositions. The total cost is difficult to predict; what I can say is it is typical for a motion to cost between $1,500 – $2,000 to draft and present, and that the typical cost of a day of depositions is about $3,000. As you can imagine, those fees ramp up quickly.

And then there’s preparing for the day of trial, and the trial itself. A typical divorce trial runs anywhere from 1 – 3 days and takes about that much time to prepare. So, you should expect to pay anywhere from $6,000 – $18,000 to an attorney to prepare for, and attend, trial.

It’s difficult to predict the cost of a divorce without a case assessment from an experienced Knoxville divorce attorney. Call today to schedule a case assessment with attorney Margaret Held, or another Held Law Firm attorney, so we can review your case and give you an estimated timeline and cost: 865-685-4780.