If you are eligible for an annulment of your marriage, you might wonder what it will cost.
In general, the cost of an annulment will vary based on whether or not the annulment is contested or uncontested. An uncontested annulment can cost as little as $200 without a lawyer and between $1,000 and $1,500 with one.
Most lawyers will charge a flat fee of around $500 to $1,500 for an uncontested annulment. The attorney will handle all of the paperwork and go to court with you if a hearing is required.
A contested annulment will likely necessitate the hiring of an attorney, and will likely cost at least $2,500, and could cost up to $25,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the case.
Most lawyers will charge an hourly rate for a contested annulment.
- If your annulment becomes contested, attorney fees will increase dramatically. In my experience, once an annulment becomes contested, attorney fees will increase to at least $5,000.
- If expert witnesses are required in a marriage annulment case, the annulment proceeding will be expensive as most expert witnesses charge at least $500 per hour. Most expert witnesses will require a retainer of at least $1,500.
- One way to reduce costs is to remember your attorney will charge you for every call, text, and email you send. Do not waste your money calling or emailing your attorney to complain about your spouse. When communicating with your attorney, have your questions ready and be laser in your communication.
- While expensive, mediation can reduce the cost of an annulment by helping parties settle out of court.
What are Some Common Annulment Expenses?
Remember, an annulment is a legal process that involves the court system. So, there will be costs associated with filing an annulment. The most common expenses associated with an annulment are the following:
1. Filing Fees
Filing fees are charges the court imposes for the administrative cost of filing and processing the annulment papers. These fees are used to cover the expenses of the court system, such as staffing and maintaining the court computer system and facilities.
In general, the cost of filing fees ranges from $50 to $450.
However, these costs can be higher or lower depending on your state. Some states will waive the filing fee for low-income individuals or those experiencing financial hardship.
2. Service of Process Fees
Service of process fees are charged for delivering the annulment papers to the other spouse. This is an important step in the legal process as it ensures that the other party is aware of the annulment proceedings and can respond.
In most states, the annulment papers will need to be personally delivered or “served” on the other spouse to be a legal “service of process.”
The cost of service of process fees can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the method of service used (a sheriff’s deputy serving the summons will be cheaper than hiring a private process server).
Generally, the cost of service of process fees ranges from $50 to $200 but can vary depending on the state you are filing in and the service method.
The most common service methods are personal service by a private process server.
Again, in most states, the court can waive the service of process fee for low-income individuals or those experiencing financial hardship.
3. Attorney Fees
In most annulment cases, at least one of the spouses will hire an attorney. Attorneys will often do an uncontested annulment case for a flat fee but will charge an hourly rate for a contested annulment case.
The cost of attorney fees can vary widely depending on the attorney’s experience and the case’s complexity, i.e., is it uncontested or going to be a fight?
On average, attorney fees for an annulment can range from $500 for a simple uncontested annulment to $25,000 or more for a contested annulment.
It is always best to speak with a lawyer and get an estimate of their fees before hiring them. It’s also important to keep in mind that the cost of an attorney is an investment in the outcome of your case, and it can save you a lot of time, money, and stress in the long run.
4. Mediation Expenses
Mediation is a process where a neutral third party, called a mediator, helps the parties in an annulment case to attempt to reach a settlement.
If your annulment proceeding is contested, your case will likely proceed to mediation before it is tried in front of a judge.
Mediation can be ordered by the court or chosen by the parties to resolve disputes in a contested annulment.
Mediation fees can vary widely depending on the jurisdiction, the case’s complexity, and the mediator’s experience. On average, mediation fees for an annulment can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
Mediators typically charge hourly rates, flat fees, or a combination of both. They may also charge additional fees for preparation, travel, or other expenses.
The mediators I use at my law firm typically cost $400 per hour. The cost is generally split equally between the two parties. So, if you had a 4-hour mediation, it would cost each spouse $800.
It’s important to note that not all states or countries require court-ordered mediation as a step in the annulment process, and in some cases, it may be optional.
If required, the court may assign a mediator, or the parties can agree on a mediator they both trust. If it’s optional, the parties may choose to hire a mediator or not, depending on their preference. If you agree to mediation, be prepared to spend $1,000. That is a rough estimate, and it could be cheaper, but it is a good starting point.
It’s always best to speak with a mediator and get an estimate of their fees before hiring them. The mediator will be expected to be paid at the time of the mediation.
While mediation is expensive, I have personally found it to be the most cost-effective way to settle an annulment case.
5. Expert Witness Fees
Expert witness fees are charges for the services of an expert witness in an annulment case. Expert witness fees are always expensive. In some cases, I have had expert witnesses charge as much as $2,500 per hour.
Expert witnesses are individuals with specialized knowledge or skills who can provide testimony or evidence relevant to the case. They can provide insight or clarify complex issues related to the annulment, such as psychological, financial, or forensic evaluations.
An expert witness may be needed in an annulment case to provide testimony about specific issues related to the grounds for the annulment. Examples of when an expert witness may be required include:
Psychological or mental health issues
An expert witness, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, may be needed to testify about one party’s mental capacity at the time of the marriage or the effects of mental illness at the time of the wedding. The expert’s testimony would be used to establish that a spouse did not have the mental capacity to enter into a valid marriage contract.
An expert witness, such as a financial analyst or accountant, may be needed to provide testimony about the parties’ financial circumstances at the time of the marriage or the impact of financial fraud on the decision to marry.
An expert witness, such as an immigration lawyer, may be needed to provide testimony about the immigration status of one party at the time of the marriage and how that may have affected the validity of the marriage.
An expert witness, such as a toxicologist, may be need to to provide testimony about the extent of intoxication at the time of the marriage and whether a spouse was too intoxicated to have the mental capacity to consent to marriage.
An expert witness, such as a theologian, pastor, or rabbi, may be needed to provide testimony about the religious beliefs or practices of the parties and how they may have affected the validity of the marriage.
Physical health issues
A doctor may be hired as an expert witness in an annulment case if the case involves issues related to the physical health of one of the parties involved in the annulment.
For example, suppose one party claims that they were physically incapacitated at the time of the marriage. In that case, a doctor with expertise in that condition may be called to testify about the party’s physical condition at the time of the marriage.
Another example is when annulment is requested on the grounds of fraud or coercion, a medical professional may be called to testify about the capacity of the party to understand the implications of marriage and if the party was under duress, such as if they were threatened with harm or coercion if they did not marry.
The cost of expert witness fees can vary widely depending on the expertise required, the case’s complexity, and the expert witness’s experience.
On average, expert witness fees for an annulment can range from $500 to several thousand dollars per day of testimony. Most experts require a retainer to get started on the case. Most experts will require a retainer of at least $1,500.
Remember, not all annulment cases require expert witnesses, and their involvement will depend on the case’s specific circumstances.
6. Deposition Expenses
Depositions are common in contested annulment cases. Deposition expenses include the cost of hiring a court reporter and paying for the deposition to be transcribed.
Court reporters typically charge a per-page or per-hour rate for their services. The cost per page can range from $1.50 to $6.00 per page, depending on the location and complexity of the case. Some court reporters may also charge an hourly rate ranging from $75 to $250 per hour.
For a deposition that lasts a couple of hours, it is common to pay $300 – $600 for a deposition to be taken and transcribed.