How Much will my Divorce Cost and how Long will it Take?

These questions must be answered together because it is the facts of a particular case, and its happenings, that ultimately determine how long it will take and how costly it will be.

Except in very rare instances, it is very difficult for an attorney to be exact when he or she provides a fee quote at the beginning of a divorce case. The initial office conference can only give the attorney a general idea of how much legal work will be necessary.

Every case is different and the personality and emotional makeup of every spouse is also different. Some cases settle quicker than others and some have to go trial. Each case has a life of its own and many factors can come into play.

The value of a lawyer’s services is determined by the client and not by the lawyer. Therefore, a lawyer (who expects repeat business or referrals from his clients) has to make every effort to deliver prompt legal services at a cost that the client deems fair and reasonable.

A lawyer who is a smart businessperson will always try to give clients more than what they paid for. It is the lawyer’s job to communicate with the client at every step of the way. A client that is made aware of the twists and turns of their case will understand the need for additional legal work and will generally approve the expenditure of additional attorney’s fees.

Many clients call and ask for information regarding how much a divorce case will cost. This is similar to calling an interior decorator and asking how much it will cost to wallpaper the inside of your house. With interior design, the customer understands that the price is dependent on the size of the house. A mansion obviously requires more rolls of wallpaper than does a modest bungalow.

If one were to call a Chevrolet dealer and ask how much a Chevrolet costs, the salesperson would not be able to answer the question without knowing what model and options the customer has in mind.

If I want an ABC Company’s vacuum cleaner, model #M87, I can call many retailers and check out their prices. I will base my decision on the lowest price. The practice of law is a service and is not a tangible object like a vacuum cleaner.

We know that the value of the Hoover vacuum cleaner model you select will be the same at every retailer. However, this is not true with legal services, where the value can vary significantly from lawyer to lawyer.

During initial office conferences, divorce attorneys learn the facts of the case and try to get a sense of the parties’ personalities. The attorney then asks for a retainer fee to cover the cost of the anticipated work.

Divorce attorneys charge by the hour. A retainer fee is an advance payment for work that the attorney has yet to perform.

Generally, uncontested divorces take less than a month from start to finish. Contested cases in Cook County generally take 18 to 30 months, and contested cases in DuPage, Kane, and Will Counties usually take 12 to 18 months.

We welcome hearing from you and we invite your questions. There is no obligation. No one will ever know that we spoke or what we discussed. Everything you say is privileged, confidential, and completely classified. We do not maintain a mailing list and will not contact you unless you ask us to.

Calling us is easy. Ask for Richard or Kari (Oak Brook 630-928-0600), or email us at or

If we are in court or in a meeting when you call, one of us will personally get back to you as quickly as possible. We are extremely discreet with callbacks and reply emails. Just leave your name and a secure email address or personal cell phone number.

Richard and Kari are staunch advocates of the non-court approach to divorce, and are also active and seasoned litigators with over 70 years of combined trial experience in the Illinois divorce courts of Cook, DuPage, and Will counties.