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How much does a divorce cost?

Depending on whether you go the DIY route or hire lawyers, it may cost you a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

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Divorce costs vary greatly, with a typical bill upwards of $10,000. At the very minimum, you’ll need to pay your state filing fees and miscellaneous expenses, including notary fees and photocopies. The final ticket price of your divorce greatly depends on whether your case is contested or uncontested, and whether you choose to hire a divorce attorney or do it yourself online.

What is the average cost of a divorce?

The average cost of a divorce if you use a lawyer is $12,900, according to a 2019 Martindale-Nolo Research survey. This ticket price is made of $11,300 in attorney fees and $1,600 in other expenses, including court costs and third-party professionals like real estate appraisers and tax advisers.

If you choose to forgo legal counsel, the average cost of a divorce is about $500. You’ll be responsible for the state filing fee, which varies by county, but you can expect to pay around $300. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of photocopies, notary fees, mailing, process server fees and an online divorce service, if you’d rather use one to help you prepare your legal forms.

How much does a divorce attorney cost?

A divorce attorney charges $270 per hour, on average, according to that same 2019 Martindale-Nolo Research survey. Hourly rates can vary greatly depending on where you live. For example, rates were highest for lawyers in coastal metropolitan areas like New York City.

How much does a divorce mediator cost?

A divorce mediator can charge per-hour or flat-rate fees for a full day or half day. In general, mediators cost $100 to $300 per hour. Divorcing couples spend an average of $970 in total, according to that same 2019 Martindale-Nolo Research survey.

How much does an online divorce service cost?

An online divorce service is a type of do-it-yourself divorce that gathers all the legal forms you’ll need to file for divorce. You’ll answer some nonlegal questions about yourself and your marriage, and the service will handle all the legal jargon and populate the relevant fields for you.

A DIY online divorce service costs anywhere from $150 to $5,000 plus your state filing fee.

How much does a collaborative divorce cost?

A collaborative divorce will likely cost over $10,000, according to Nolo’s survey. But how much you ultimately pay will depend on your lawyer’s hourly fee and how many issues you need to resolve.

How much does arbitration in a divorce cost?

Divorce arbitrators generally charge a daily rate, which typically ranges from $1,000 to $2,000. Fees vary depending on the arbitrator’s experience and location.

Arbitrators can also charge for sessions before and after the hearing and miscellaneous expenses, including travel and meals on the hearing day.

What are the minimum costs involved with a divorce?

At the minimum, you’ll need to pay your state’s filing fee, which typically runs about $300. Other expenses include:

  • Photocopies
  • Notary fees, if required
  • Postage
  • Process server fees

Cost of a contested vs. uncontested divorce

A contested divorce costs anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on the route you take. For example, couples that settled using lawyers spent around $10,000. But some couples who went to court for at least one contested issue ended up paying closer to $20,000 or more.

On the other hand, an uncontested divorce averaged approximately $4,000, including lawyer fees.

Ask an expert

Debra Opri
  • Debra Opri
  • Litigation attorney
  • Founder and partner of Opri & Associates

4 factors that can make a divorce more expensive

The more complex your case, the more expensive your divorce will be. Here are a few factors that can increase the cost:

  • Contested vs. uncontested. If you and your spouse can’t agree on the main issues of the divorce settlement, you’ll likely have higher attorney and court fees to resolve these disputes through mediation, arbitration, collaborative divorce or a court trial.
  • DIY online divorce vs. hiring a lawyer. Using an online divorce service to prep your legal documents is usually cheaper than hiring an attorney to draft your forms.
  • Complicated assets. If your assets are complex and entangled with your spouse, you may need to call in a few experts, including tax specialists, real estate appraisers and financial advisers, to help divvy things up.
  • Child custody battles. If you and your spouse can’t agree on child custody and visitation, you’ll likely need to pay for a child custody evaluation and expert witnesses to plead your case.

3 ways to bring down the cost of a divorce

Here are steps you can take to keep your divorce expenses as low as possible.

  • Opt for a DIY divorce online. Instead of hiring an attorney to draft your settlement and legal documents, you might be able to use an online provider that charges a flat fee for your divorce package. To qualify, you’ll need to meet your state residency requirements and have an uncontested divorce.
  • Avoid a court trial. Since trials can be long, drawn-out and costly, consider mediation or arbitration to try to settle your contested divorce outside a courtroom.
  • Organize your documents before meeting with an attorney. If you go the lawyer route, get all of your financial records, marriage documents and personal records together before your first appointment. Lawyers charge for every phone call and email they send. So the less back and forth you have to track down records, the more you’ll save.

Compare online divorce services

Find a provider whose legal forms have a proven track record for court acceptance. Some DIY online divorce services even offer a money-back guarantee if the court rejects your paperwork.

Name Product Cost Includes filing papers with court? File without spouse Legal assistance available Customer service
3 Step Divorce
$299 - $336
No - you must file and pay court fees
Yes
No
Phone, Email
File within one business day of your start date with 3StepDivorce and qualify for a $50 cash rebate. Payment plans available.
LegalZoom online divorce
$499
No - you must file and pay court fees
Yes
Yes
Phone, Email, Live chat
File for an uncontested divorce online or find legal resources to help guide you through the divorce process.
OnlineDivorce.com
$139
No - you must file and pay court fees
Yes
No
Phone, Email
Ready-to-file divorce forms for one flat fee. Step-by-step directions to help simplify uncontested divorces.
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Compare up to 4 providers

5 surprising costs that come after a divorce

Some sneaky expenses can pop up after a divorce is finalized. Here are a few common costs that you may need to budget for:

  • Refinancing your loans. You’ll need to refinance your debts to remove your ex’s name from your loans or any debts that you may have cosigned.
  • Getting new insurance. Many married couples enjoy a discount because they share car insurance policies. But once you go your separate ways, you might get stuck with a higher premium.
  • Signing a new phone contract. Unless your cellphone is pay as you go, you may need to terminate the old agreement you shared with your ex and get a new one. That could mean a termination fee and a pricier solo plan.
  • Finding a place to live. If you weren’t already separated before the divorce, you’d need to make an allowance for new living arrangements, including a place to live and household essentials.
  • Going to therapy. Getting a divorce can be an emotional and stressful experience. If you need some emotional support, consider seeking out counseling or therapy from a mental health professional.

Bottom line

Divorce doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. If you have an uncontested divorce, you may not need to hire lawyers or go to court, which means you could end up paying around $500.

Read our guide to getting divorced to help you protect your finances and learn what to expect when you file.

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