Ending a marriage can be complicated and overwhelming. Having the right divorce lawyer on your side streamlines the process and gives you confidence when you need it most. Our partners at ConsumerAffairs researched the best divorce attorneys in Waco to help find the support you need.
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If you’re getting a divorce in Texas, you are not alone. In 2017, the state’s divorce rate was 2.2 per 1,000 residents. This rate is relatively low compared to other parts of the country; Nevada has the highest rate with 4.5, and the national average is 3.2.
Just like relationships aren’t one-size-fits-all, neither are divorces. There are a variety of types of divorce, and each type has a specific lawyer that you may need to hire.
Types of divorce in Waco
The methods for settling a divorce depend on whether the parties agree on the division of property and how amicable they are. Some typical scenarios in Waco are:
We agree on the terms of the divorce.
This is called an uncontested divorce. In this process, you both file separate paperwork and work together to decide issues such as child custody, alimony or division of property. You won’t need to go to court or host settlement hearings. You may not even need to pay for a lawyer in this case, but hiring a lawyer to look over any papers filed with the court is a good idea.
You are required to pay a filing fee with the court. In McClennan county, the cost for filing a divorce is $392 without children or $442 with children or property in question.
We want to resolve out of court but can’t come to an agreement.
You need an arbitrator or mediator. These are neutral third parties who listen to both sides. Arbitrators then make a binding ruling on who gets what. A mediator does not make binding decisions but helps facilitate communication and proposes compromises when talks stall.
You can also go through what’s called a collaborative divorce, where both parties hire attorneys who have a focus in collaborative law. Both parties sign an agreement saying they are prepared to work together to find a solution. If they are unable to settle out of court, the parties’ legal representation withdraw from the case, and both spouses need to find new attorneys before proceeding to litigation.
Lawyer: Arbitrator, mediator or collaborative lawyer
We have children.
In this case, you need to hire a family law attorney. Family law attorneys are required to have additional certification and experience. They are also required to focus most of their attention on what is best for the children, not for you as a client — so keep that in mind throughout the process.
Lawyer: Family law attorney
We don’t agree on anything.
This is called a contested divorce. Both parties need to hire a divorce attorney and prepare for your case ending up in court. Your attorneys handle most of the between-spouse discussions and help facilitate a deal that benefits both sides. Contested divorces are common for couples who have a high net worth or many assets that need to be divided.
Texas allows for no-fault divorces, in which neither side blames the divorce on the other, but it’s also possible to name a grounds for divorce. These grounds include adultery, mental or physical abuse, long-term incarceration, abandonment or insanity. The judge can consider the grounds for divorce and deny alimony to one of the divorcing parties if it’s decided they are to blame.
Lawyer: Divorce attorney
How much does it cost to hire a divorce lawyer?
Most attorneys are familiar with discussing fees during an initial consultation, so don’t be shy about asking. Typically, lawyers charge for their work on an hourly basis. In Waco, the average hourly rate for a divorce attorney is $300.
The average cost in Waco for attorneys’ fees in a divorce is $12,400, with the total divorce cost being closer to $15,600 after court fees and other expenses. While that may seem like a high amount, the average length of a divorce process is 12.5 months.
Other expenses in a divorce procedure include hiring witnesses and consultants, the costs of serving documents and court filing. If you have children, your cost will be significantly higher because of the extra time and fees involved. In Waco, the average for a divorce with children is closer to $23,500.
While cost is a significant concern, hiring an attorney based solely on their low fees may be a mistake. There is a lot at stake with your divorce; don’t let a cheap attorney keep you from what you deserve. Use recommendations from friends and family and online reviews to make the right decision.
Questions to ask divorce attorneys in Waco
Once you decide what type of lawyer you need, you need to hire one. Through this process, it’s common for lawyers to be interviewed by potential clients. Many lawyers in Waco agree to a consultation at no cost to make sure you’re a good fit for each other.
During this interview, you can see if your personalities work well together and how communicative the attorney is. Some questions you can ask include:
Will you take care of my case directly or pass it off to an associate?
What is your relevant experience?
What is your trial record?
How much are your fees?
By doing your research and hiring an attorney in Waco that fits the specifics of your case and your personality, you can reduce some of the stress of the divorce and increase your chance for a favorable outcome.
Sutton Milam & Fanning, PLLC
Sutton Milam and Fanning is a reputable firm with a strong track record and more than 30 years of experience. This company offers free consultations and case reviews and uses your specific needs to craft a divorce solution for you. Waco reviewers state that these lawyers are professional, yet down-to-earth, and provide excellent service.
Keathley Law Offices
Keathley Law Offices in Waco offers a variety of legal services. The firm offers flexible payment options and a full range of family law services to help solve any issues related to your divorce. Keathley Law Offices has been in Waco for 25 years, and local reviews praise the company for its experienced, focused attorneys.
Blanchard & Thomas, LLP
With numerous local and national awards, Blanchard & Thomas has a proven record of excellence in Waco. Blanchard & Thomas promises to respond to any communication within 24 hours as part of its dedication to transparency and customer service. If a client wants alternate counsel, Blanchard & Thomas promises a 100 percent return on unearned advance payments.
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