Our top pick: 3 Step Divorce
- For uncontested divorces
- Pay a flat-fee of $299
- Ready-to-file divorce forms
- Court approved forms or your money back
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Take a deeper dive into the collaborative divorce process with our guide.
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.
At the minimum, you’ll need to pay your state’s filing fee, which typically runs about $300. Other expenses include:
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.
Some unexpected costs of divorce include:
The unexpected costs are always gauging the financials and fighting it out in a courtroom. So how do you avoid both?
One, before you even go to an attorney, have all of your financials copied and do the calculations. I always tell a client this before they come to see me: Email me a narrative — a summary — from the day you met to the day it was over. This includes everything: What do you invest in? Where did you go?
Because when you read this narrative — the story — you know what to tell the client. Oh, you’re gonna have to watch for this. You’re gonna have to watch for that. They could be hiding money. There are a lot of assets here — they’re gonna fight.
So the main thing is information. Knowledge is power. The unexpected costs are when the attorney doesn’t have this information, and they have to go get it and have it evaluated. Expert testimony, when you’re going into trial on a family law case, child custody, therapists who are going to review the custodial workings, how each parent gets along with a child.
The more complex your case, the more expensive your divorce will be. Here are a few factors that can increase the cost:
Here are steps you can take to keep your divorce expenses as low as possible.
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.
Some sneaky expenses can pop up after a divorce is finalized. Here are a few common costs that you may need to budget for:
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.
An online DIY service that charges a flat rate to generate your divorce paperwork — but watch out for the automatic membership fee.
Award-winning lawyer, mediator and author with over 40 years in the legal industry.
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