DIVORCE COSTS IN CANADA

Divorce Lawyer Fees:
Contested vs Uncontested

The website CanadianLawyerMag.com surveyed 570 lawyers and found the following statistics about their rates:

  • The divorce fees charged by a lawyer for an uncontested case vary from a low of $1,056 to a high of $2,922 with an average of $1,540 per case.
  • The divorce fees charged by a lawyer for a contested case vary from a low of $6,582 to a high of $86,644 with an average of $15,570 per case.

Keep in mind, disbursements are extra. Typically, there is the court filing fee, a cost to order a marriage certificate and process serving. Most lawyers also add mail, phone calls and photocopy charges as disbursements. Discoveries, appraisals, mediation, domestic specials, and financial audits are other examples of add-ons that can cost hundreds and thousands more.

Also, two lawyers are usually involved in every contested divorce case. That means that in a contested situation, the average divorce fees only for both parties could easily be as high as double or more the amount of the quote above — or well over $40,000 plus disbursements. That is 25.9 times greater than an uncontested divorce ($1,540 * 25.9 = $40,000).

Uncontested Divorce Legal Fees:
Lawyers vs Paralegals

Divorce paralegals are likely to include some expenses (postage, phone calls, photocopying, etc) as part of the fee for a divorce. Accordingly, in comparison to paralegals, the fees charged by lawyers for an uncontested divorce may be understated. The Defendant does not have to hire a lawyer in an uncontested divorce situation.

Fees charged by paralegals for an uncontested divorce average at least 50% lower than the fees charged by lawyers, and range from $500 to $1,000, depending on experience and level of service provided. Some lower-priced paralegals still ask the applicant to do his/her own filing and serving, but higher-priced paralegal professionals often handle everything from beginning to end.

Uncontested Divorce Paralegal
vs
Contested Divorce Lawyers

For fun, I thought I’d do this comparison. The average fee charged by a paralegal is $750.00 in an uncontested divorce situation. The average total fee for both parties in a contested situation is at least $40,000.00. Disbursements and GST are extra. Remember, we are talking averages and in a contested situation there are usually 2 lawyers. If the husband and wife agree to be transparent, truthful and cooperative, and instead opt for a cooperative situation it is possible they could reduce their fee to 2% ($40,000.00 x 2% = $800.00). That is an average savings of $38,200.00.

Rate Chart

Lawyer Fees

Summary

The divorce costs quoted above do not include legal costs which may have been incurred prior to the parties seeking a divorce. The parties may have sought a separation agreement or court order involving the children in advance of a divorce and these claims may or may not have been contested.

Total divorce costs by paralegals are significantly lower, provided the parties can learn to get a long, be truthful and transparent. Paralegals can also help with separation agreements and other applications, provided they are uncontested.

About Debbie Ward

Deborah L. Ward, Owner/Manager of the Canadian Legal Resource Centre Inc., has worked in the paralegal industry since 1987 assisting over 10,000 clients with Canadian Pardons, United States Waivers of Inadmissibility, Uncontested Divorces, Legal Separation Agreement and Fingerprinting. She has a degree in business (B.Comm.), two paralegal diplomas, an Immigration Practitioner Diploma and continues to take continuing education courses in a variety of areas including family law and mediation.  As evidence of her commitment to excellence, the Canadian Legal Resource Centre Inc. has won the Consumers Choice Awards 9 years in a row (2006 to 2014), enjoys an A+ Reputation with the Better Business Bureau and is one of the largest paralegal companies in Canada.

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