Divorce

How Much Will It Cost to Get a Divorce? A Guide for Couples

Over the last few years, divorce has become common in the United States. In this context, couples going through divorce are highly concerned about how much it will cost. Although the cost varies from State to State, the average cost of divorce in the U.S. ranges from $15,000 to $20,000 in 2024.

According to the current statistics, nearly 40-50% of marriages end in this unfortunate way. Out of 230 marriages, 86 divorces are reported in an hour. In this regard, one of the most important queries of the couples is about the cost of the divorce. To learn about the expected expenses and costs of the divorce, make sure you understand all the complexities related to it. After getting the idea, it becomes possible to plan and manage the finances accordingly, which will ultimately save you from future financial changes. Scroll down the article to find out all about the expected costs in 2024.

Types of Divorce

The cost of divorces varies from type to type. To decide which type suits you and your pocket, here are the different types of divorce.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is the type of divorce in which both the spouses agree on important matters like property division, child custody, and support. It is an easy to understand procedure in which the parties have to file the divorce papers followed by attending a short hearing. At the end the couple gets judge’s approval.

In case of uncontested divorce, the fees and costs include Filing fees of $200 – $500 vary from State to State.

Legal fees, which range from $1,000 to $5,000, must be paid. You need this if you are getting a lawyer to review documents.

The additional costs include the cost of mediation or document preparation services. You have to pay only when necessary.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce occurs if one or both spouses are unable to reach a consensus regarding one or more issues. It is a complex matter that requires more legal proceedings, including negotiations, court hearings, and possibly a trial.

If your needs and complexities are pushing you towards a complex situation and you have to choose the option of the contested divorce, then here is the cost detail related to it.

Filing fees are $200 – $500 according to the State where you are filing the divorce.

Legal fees, depending on the complexity of affairs and the time required, are $10,000 – $30,000. However, they can also exceed this limit at times.

If you need expert witnesses, child custody evaluations, or court fees, be ready to pay the additional costs as well.

Mediation and Collaborative Divorce

For those who want things to be easier and less expensive, there is the option of choosing either mediation or collaborative divorce. In the former, a third party is there to help the couple reach a decision. At the same time, in the latter, each spouse gets his own lawyer, and the matter is settled without visiting the court.

The mediation fee depends on the mediator and the number of sessions required. Accordingly, it ranges from $2,000 to $7,000. In the case of a collaborative divorce, the cost depends on legal and other professional fees and turns out to be between $8,000 and $15,000.

Read: Can You Divorce Without Splitting Assets? Asset Division in Divorce

What is Included in Divorce Costs?

What is Included in Divorce Costs
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Divorce costs means that you have to consider the different types of fees. Together, they will let you know how much it will cost to get a divorce.

Filing Fees

It varies from state to state, but it is mandatory to pay. For example, the filing fee in California, Florida, Texas and New York is $435, $350 to $410, $300 to $350, and $335, respectively. This fee will include the cost of court proceedings.

Additional Court Costs

After paying the initial filing fee, the additional costs are also there which include

  • Service fees for delivering divorce papers
  • Fees for court-ordered classes (e.g., parenting classes)
  • Copying and certification fees for legal documents

Attorney Fees

It is a major expense in divorce cases. It comes in the form of average hourly rates and retainer fees. The fees vary from attorney to attorney, depending on their experience levels. On average, new lawyers cost $100+/hour, while the same for experienced lawyers is $300+/hour. Retainers, on the other hand, charge $2,500 to $5,000 on average.

The attorney fee depends on

  • His experience
  • Location that is either rural or urban setting.
  • The nature of the case: Complex cases cost more than ordinary divorce cases. The complex ones generally deal with assets or custody disputes. They require more time, increasing the cost.

For those who have little to afford, there is an opportunity to use the legal aid services of law firms, which include payment plans to help manage costs.

What Factors Impact Divorce Costs?

Here are the main factors that will add to the cost of the divorce.

Complexity

The complexity of the case depends on several factors. One major factor is the distribution of assets and debts. The more financial matters, the more complex the situation becomes. Similarly, disputes over child custody and support issues increase the cost as such cases become complex.

Level of Conflict

In divorces, where both parties reach an agreement, there are fewer expenses and little cost. On the contrary, high-conflict divorces require more court appearances, and subsequently, more legal fees are needed. If mediation or arbitration is required in any divorce case, the fee will automatically increase.

Cost according to State

The cost of the divorce varies from State to State. Different states have different fees depending on the different legal procedures and filing fees. If the State has mandatory waiting periods and residency requirements, then the cost will increase as well. Let’s consider the examples of California and North Carolina. California has a higher filing fee than North Carolina, which increases the cost of the entire process.

Individual Considerations

The individual’s lifestyle, financial condition, and assets can make things hard to manage during divorce. These individual circumstances can make the financial arrangements complicated, which ultimately contributes to the rise in the cost of divorce settlement. Those who are vigilant enough and have an idea of the possible financial outcomes can make proper plans to overcome the financial stress and burden during the divorce process and also after that.

How to Cut the Cost of Getting a Divorce?

How to Cut the Cost of Getting a Divorce
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If you are concerned about the cost of a divorce and feel that it can be really hectic to manage, do not worry. There are certain cost-effective strategies for anyone looking to get a divorce.

Getting the DIY Divorce

Couples with minimal assets and no children have a cost-effective option of going for DIY divorces. This kind of divorce works when there are no settlement or agreement issues between both parties. Under the DIY divorce option, there is no attorney fee, but there are risks associated with it as well. As more expert help is needed, there is the possibility of mistakes in paperwork in addition to other misunderstandings that can ultimately lead to long-term financial and legal problems. While getting a DIY divorce, it is important to know the state laws and connect with an expert lawyer.

Mediation and Collaborative Law

In mediation, a neutral third party is involved and helps negotiate the divorce terms. On the other hand, collaborative law involves the party choosing a lawyer who helps settle disputes outside the court. Both these options are comparatively cheaper and time-saving. These methods are great help for those who want to get help for their ongoing relationships, especially when the affair needs to deal with the children as well.

Negotiations and Out of Court Settlements

If you want to save the cost of divorce, it is a good idea to settle the affairs outside the court. The couples also have the option of negotiating the terms. They can do it on their own or with the help of lawyers who are well-versed in family matters. Before settling the matters through both of these choices, it is important to know about the individual priorities. It is better to choose compromises whenever it sounds better, and opening to communication can help both parties. Choosing this approach helps in cutting down the cost of getting a divorce.

Search for Legal Assistance Options

Are you worried about your financial status? If you want a legal expert to help you out but you cannot pay the fee, then there is little to worry about as you have multiple options to choose from, as mentioned above. A good alternative to this is finding an organization that either offers free or low-cost services or provides legal assistance. Bar associations in different states have sliding-scale fee programs. Along with this, you can find law firms that offer pro bono services to clients who are going through financial problems.

Divorce doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. You can conveniently find better options, including the DIY divorce. Make sure you know your needs, priorities, and choices. Learn everything about the options and then come to a final decision that can save you during the divorce process and even after that.

Read: What are my rights to choose my attorney?

Conclusion

Divorce is not just about parting away or separating. It is a process that has long-term implications for everyone. For those trying to find out how much it will cost to get a divorce, this article has a comprehensive overview of all aspects. The expenses involved in getting a divorce can be really challenging, especially when you need a strong financial status, and your case is still too complex to settle. In such a situation, you need to have good planning and enough information about the available alternatives.

Being informed and prepared will save you and your future from multiple challenges that you may have to fight back after the divorce actually happens. Don’t forget that divorce is not a one-day story. It can end up in extreme emotional and financial problems if you do not address them well before actually getting a divorce.

FAQs

How much do most divorces cost?

The average cost of getting a divorce in the U.S. is between $15,000 and $20,000. However, this is not a fixed amount, as several factors, such as location, attorney fees, and the type of divorce, impact the cost directly or indirectly.

How long does a divorce take in Illinois?

In Illinois, getting a divorce can take from two months to over a year.

How much should a wife get in a divorce?

It depends on different factors, such as state laws, length of marriage, and financial contributions. The court ensures equitable distribution. This does not always mean that she gets an equal share, but whatever she gets is fair enough as per the laws.

Why is divorce so expensive?

The divorce process is expensive due to legal fees, court costs, and the costs of dividing assets and debts. Other reasons are the level of conflict and the need for expert witnesses.

Are most divorces over money?

Money and financial matters are some of the reasons, but they can’t be the only reason for the divorce. In addition to it, the other common reasons include infidelity, lack of communication, and incompatibility.

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