The Cost of Divorce: Where is it most expensive?

According to the Institute For Family Studies, the rate of divorce is at its lowest in 50 years, with 14.9 of every 1,000 marriages in the US ending in divorce [1] How much does a divorce cost by state https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost-by-state.html and the average marriage length increasing from 19 years in 2010 to 19.8 years in 2019.

However, despite these signs that divorces are decreasing, more than 746,000 divorces were still filed across the US, costing those involved not just their marriages and relationships but thousands of dollars in fees and, in many cases, debt. This leaves many needing to manage personal finances, credit and debt, let alone embark on a new life.

Contents

Key findings

  • The average cost of a divorce in the US is $19,458 per couple
  • On average the person filing for divorce will pay $9,969, with the other party paying $9,729 in legal fees
  • Children increase the cost of divorce by an average of 36.7% ($7,232) nationally, costing the average couple a combined fee of $26,930 in legal divorce costs
  • A childless divorce costs $2,066 (10.5%) less than the national average, costing $17,631 between both parties
  • California has the highest average cost of a divorce, costing the party filing the divorce $14,435
  • Montana has the lowest divorce costs in the US, costing just $6,170 on average filing the divorce

Mapping the cost of divorce in the US (per person)

How much does a divorce cost in each state?

The cost of divorce can be spread into various parts, fees, legal representation, and (where applicable) settlements and alimony. However, while settlements and alimony can vary wildly in cases, lawyer fees and court costs are far more common but far less reported.

To help you understand the average cost of getting a divorce, we have analyzed various sources to understand just how much the average divorce in the USA costs; highlighting the states with the most and least expensive divorce costs.

The table below shows the combined (legal fees and representation) costs of filing for a divorce in each state, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, showing how the average divorce in the US costs $9,969; with the cost increasing by an average of 39% when children are involved.

Average per person court and legal fee costs by state:

State Fees and Lawyer Average [1] How much does a divorce cost by state https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost-by-state.html Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1] How much does a divorce cost by state https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost-by-state.html, [2] The Cost and Duration of Divorce https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/family-law/divorce/cost-duration/ Fees and Lawyer(Without kids) [1] How much does a divorce cost by state https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost-by-state.html, [2] The Cost and Duration of Divorce https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/family-law/divorce/cost-duration/
State California Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$14,435 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$19,639 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$12,948
State New York Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$13,835 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$18,853 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$12,401
State Texas Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$12,792 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$17,456 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$11,446
State Connecticut Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$12,360 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$16,820 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$11,086
State New Jersey Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$12,300 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$16,760 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$11,026
State Massachusetts Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$12,200 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$16,660 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$10,926
State Delaware Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$12,165 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$16,625 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$10,891
State Virginia Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$11,584 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$15,858 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$10,363
State Georgia Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$11,400 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$15,488 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$10,232
State Colorado Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$11,230 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$15,318 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$10,062
State Pennsylvania Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$11,202 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$15,290 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$10,034
State Maryland Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$11,165 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$15,253 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,997
State Utah Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,725 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$14,590 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,621
State Florida Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,409 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$14,126 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,347
State Alabama Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,400 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$14,117 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,338
State Puerto Rico Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,400 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$14,117 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,338
State Rhode Island Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,400 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$14,117 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,338
State Illinois Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,334 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$14,051 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,272
State Washington Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,314 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$14,031 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,252
State Oregon Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,301 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$14,018 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,239
State Alaska Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,288 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$14,042 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,188
State Arizona Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,280 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$13,997 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,218
State Nevada Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,258 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$14,016 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,155
State Michigan Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,215 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$13,972 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,113
State Louisiana Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,200 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$13,917 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,138
State Missouri Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,184 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$13,950 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,072
State South Carolina Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,150 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$13,867 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,088
State North Carolina Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,113 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$13,867 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,013
State District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$10,080 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$13,797 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$9,018
State Tennessee Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$9,722 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$13,290 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$8,676
State New Hampshire Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$9,400 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$12,745 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$8,444
State Minnesota Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$9,365 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$12,710 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$8,409
State Ohio Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$9,350 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$12,695 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$8,394
State Hawaii Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$9,240 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$12,610 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$8,259
State Iowa Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$9,184 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$12,529 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$8,228
State Oklahoma Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$9,183 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$12,528 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$8,227
State Indiana Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$9,157 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$12,502 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$8,201
State Vermont Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$9,090 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$12,435 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$8,134
State Wyoming Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$9,085 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$12,430 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$8,129
State Wisconsin Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,690 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,854 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,782
State South Dakota Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,595 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,754 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,692
State Kansas Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,400 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,373 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,550
State Mississippi Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,400 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,373 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,550
State Idaho Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,181 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,180 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,304
State Arkansas Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,165 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,138 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,315
State Nebraska Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,158 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,131 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,308
State Kentucky Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,151 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,124 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,301
State West Virginia Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,134 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,107 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,284
State Maine Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,120 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,093 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,270
State North Dakota Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,080 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,053 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,230
State New Mexico Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$6,637 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$9,053 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$5,947
State Montana Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$6,170 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$8,400 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$5,533
State National Average Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$9,969 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$13,828 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$8,929

Source:
[1] Data a calculation of average fees as sourced from https://www.findlaw.com [2] Data sourced from https://www.findlaw.com with the cost difference calculated from national price differences listed on https://www.lawyers.com

The most expensive states to file for divorce

As the table and chart show, California is the most expensive state for filing for divorce, with the average (legally represented) divorce costing $14,435; rising to an average of $19,639 if those involved have children or other dependents.

With divorce filings in California the equivalent to 45.2% of the state’s median income, many soon to be divorcees would require a loan to cover their costs, view our insights into the average credit score & debt in California

Close behind California, New York is the second most expensive state to get a divorce. The average divorcee needing to spend $13,835 in court fees and lawyer costs; this figure increases by an average of 36% if children are involved in the relationship.

Five (5) most expensive states to get divorced:

State Fees and Lawyer Average [1] How much does a divorce cost by state https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost-by-state.html Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1] How much does a divorce cost by state https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost-by-state.html, [2] The Cost and Duration of Divorce https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/family-law/divorce/cost-duration/ Fees and Lawyer(Without kids) [1] How much does a divorce cost by state https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost-by-state.html, [2] The Cost and Duration of Divorce https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/family-law/divorce/cost-duration/
State California Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$14,435 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$19,639 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$12,948
State New York Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$13,835 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$18,853 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$12,401
State Texas Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$12,792 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$17,456 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$11,446
State Connecticut Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$12,360 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$16,820 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$11,086
State New Jersey Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$12,300 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$16,760 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$11,026

Source:
[1] Data a calculation of average fees as sourced from https://www.findlaw.com [2] Data sourced from https://www.findlaw.com with the cost difference calculated from national price differences listed on https://www.lawyers.com

The least expensive states to get a divorce

Our analysis found Montana to be the cheapest state for divorces. The average divorce in the Treasure State, costing just $6,170 fee and legal representation. This is $3,799 less than the national average and $8,265 less than the most expensive state, California.

The second cheapest state for getting divorced in the US is New Mexico, the average divorce costing $6,637; with those involving children and other dependents $9,053 and those without $5,947.

Five (5) least expensive states to get divorced:

State Fees and Lawyer Average [1] How much does a divorce cost by state https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost-by-state.html Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1] How much does a divorce cost by state https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost-by-state.html, [2] The Cost and Duration of Divorce https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/family-law/divorce/cost-duration/ Fees and Lawyer(Without kids) [1] How much does a divorce cost by state https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost-by-state.html, [2] The Cost and Duration of Divorce https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/family-law/divorce/cost-duration/
State Montana Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$6,170 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$8,400 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$5,533
State New Mexico Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$6,637 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$9,053 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$5,947
State North Dakota Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,080 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,053 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,230
State Maine Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,120 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,093 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,270
State West Virginia Fees and Lawyer Average [1]$8,134 Fees and Lawyer (With kids) [1], [2]$11,107 Fees and Lawyer (Without kids) [1], [2]$7,284

Source:
[1] Data a calculation of average fees as sourced from https://www.findlaw.com [2] Data sourced from https://www.findlaw.com with the cost difference calculated from national price differences listed on https://www.lawyers.com

Managing debt during a divorce

Managing your debt during a divorce can take on a whole new level of complexity, to avoid impacting your credit score after a divorce

While divorce in and of itself isn’t going to ruin your credit, because marital status doesn’t show up on your credit report, the divorce process can impact your finances and ability to keep up with payments as well as other bills. 

Like many married couples, the spouses are likely to have accumulated various types of debt during the relationship - often in the form of credit cards, mortgages, and other loans.

While some states consider all assets and debts acquired during the marriage as “community property” split 50/50 between the parties, the vast majority work on a legal principle that the name(s) signed as “owning” the debt or asset are responsible for their repayment. 

With both of these legal principles in mind, the general rule for managing debt is to try and work with your former partner to pay off any joint debts before advancing through a divorce, using savings or the proceeds from selling joint assets.

However, if that isn’t an option (and even if it is), make sure you have a clear picture of your assets and debts to ensure you’re able to split them equitably, if not equally, during the divorce proceedings.

To learn more about the split of assets and debt in a divorce, view our insights into what happens to your debt after a divorce.

In response to our analysis of divorce costs across the US, Lauren Bringle, Accredited Financial Counselor ® at Self Financial comments:

“The ending of a marriage can be a sad, time consuming, and often expensive process. In addition to managing day-to-day life, both parties are also juggling the financial and emotional burdens of a divorce.”

“As our study found, the average cost of filing for a divorce is almost $10,000 in legal fees, with the average divorce taking between eight (8) and fifteen (15) months to finalize, though the exact timeline depends on disputes, if dependents are involved, and court schedules, if the divorce has to go through court.”

“With so much time and money needed to settle a divorce, other debts may be forgotten or form the bedrock of many time-consuming and expensive disputes. In these cases, try to work with a former partner (or their legal representatives) to equitably pay off any debts, and other credit, picked up during the marriage.”

Methodology & Sources:

Data was collected between 03/01/21 and 03/05/21, using a number of sources (below). Figures with and without children were calculated by extrapolating the national average price increases/decreases in each scenario. Figures shown include court fees (adjusted for when dependents are involved) and average legal representation fees.

Sources:

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