Most Expensive States to Get Divorced

November 10, 2017 by Evan Comen

Source: AndreyPopov / iStock
While the share of marriages that end in divorce has steadily declined over the last 50 years, between 40% and 50% of U.S. marriages end in dissolution, according to the American Psychological Association. In addition to the emotional strain associated with divorce, ending a marriage can be a significant financial burden.

While property division and alimony payments in the aftermath of divorce can lead to a substantial loss of assets, the actual divorce process itself can be an expensive one. Attorney fees, court filing costs, and other legal fees can add up to several thousand dollars. And depending on where in the country a couple ends their marriage, the cost of a divorce can be in the tens of thousands.

To determine the most (and least) expensive states in which to get a divorce, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the average cost of a divorce from lawyer marketing service company Martindale Nolo Research’s 2015 divorce study. Costs range from $8,400 for the average divorce in Montana to $17,500 in California.

Click here to see the full list of the most and least expensive states to get a divorce.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: Thinkstock

50. Montana
> Average cost of divorce: $8,400
> Average attorney fee: $6,600 (the lowest)
> Court filing fee: $200 (24th highest)
> Divorce rate: 3.4 per 1,000 residents (16th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

49. Kentucky
> Average cost of divorce: $10,200
> Average attorney fee: $8,100 (2nd lowest)
> Court filing fee: $113 (7th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.7 per 1,000 residents (11th highest)

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48. West Virginia
> Average cost of divorce: $10,400
> Average attorney fee: $8,200 (5th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $135 (9th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 4.0 per 1,000 residents (7th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

47. North Dakota
> Average cost of divorce: $10,400
> Average attorney fee: $8,200 (5th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $80 (4th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 2.8 per 1,000 residents (19th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

46. Nebraska
> Average cost of divorce: $10,400
> Average attorney fee: $8,200 (5th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $158 (13th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.2 per 1,000 residents (23rd highest)

Source: Thinkstock

45. New Mexico
> Average cost of divorce: $10,700
> Average attorney fee: $8,400 (6th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $132 (8th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.3 per 1,000 residents (22nd highest)

Source: Thinkstock

44. South Dakota
> Average cost of divorce: $10,900
> Average attorney fee: $8,600 (8th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $95 (6th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 2.6 per 1,000 residents (12th lowest)

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43. Kansas
> Average cost of divorce: $10,900
> Average attorney fee: $8,600 (8th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $174 (18th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 2.8 per 1,000 residents (18th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

42. Mississippi
> Average cost of divorce: $11,000
> Average attorney fee: $8,700 (9th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $50 (the lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.4 per 1,000 residents (19th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

41. Maine
> Average cost of divorce: $11,100
> Average attorney fee: $8,800 (12th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $150 (12th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.4 per 1,000 residents (15th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

40. Arkansas
> Average cost of divorce: $11,100
> Average attorney fee: $8,800 (12th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $165 (17th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 4.8 per 1,000 residents (the highest)

Source: Thinkstock

39. Vermont
> Average cost of divorce: $11,200
> Average attorney fee: $8,900 (14th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $180 (20th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.1 per 1,000 residents (23rd lowest)

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38. Idaho
> Average cost of divorce: $11,200
> Average attorney fee: $8,800 (12th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $207 (23rd highest)
> Divorce rate: 4.1 per 1,000 residents (6th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

37. Wisconsin
> Average cost of divorce: $11,300
> Average attorney fee: $8,900 (14th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $184 (21st lowest)
> Divorce rate: 2.6 per 1,000 residents (11th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

36. Wyoming
> Average cost of divorce: $11,400
> Average attorney fee: $9,000 (17th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $75 (3rd lowest)
> Divorce rate: 4.1 per 1,000 residents (4th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

35. Minnesota
> Average cost of divorce: $11,400
> Average attorney fee: $9,000 (17th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $299 (15th highest)
> Divorce rate: N/A

Source: Thinkstock

34. Indiana
> Average cost of divorce: $11,400
> Average attorney fee: $9,000 (17th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $400 (3rd highest)
> Divorce rate: N/A

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33. Iowa
> Average cost of divorce: $11,700
> Average attorney fee: $9,300 (19th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $185 (22nd lowest)
> Divorce rate: 1.2 per 1,000 residents (6th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

32. Hawaii
> Average cost of divorce: $11,700
> Average attorney fee: $9,200 (18th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $215 (22nd highest)
> Divorce rate: N/A

Source: Thinkstock

31. New Hampshire
> Average cost of divorce: $12,300
> Average attorney fee: $9,700 (20th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $250 (19th highest)
> Divorce rate: 3.3 per 1,000 residents (20th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

30. Oklahoma
> Average cost of divorce: $12,500
> Average attorney fee: $9,800 (21st lowest)
> Court filing fee: $252.14 (18th highest)
> Divorce rate: 4.4 per 1,000 residents (3rd highest)

Source: Thinkstock

29. Ohio
> Average cost of divorce: $12,500
> Average attorney fee: $9,900 (24th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $200 (24th highest)
> Divorce rate: 3.1 per 1,000 residents (22nd lowest)

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28. Alabama
> Average cost of divorce: $12,500
> Average attorney fee: $9,900 (24th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $199 (23rd lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.9 per 1,000 residents (9th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

27. Tennessee
> Average cost of divorce: $12,600
> Average attorney fee: $9,900 (24th lowest)
> Court filing fee: $303 (13th highest)
> Divorce rate: 3.7 per 1,000 residents (12th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

26. South Carolina
> Average cost of divorce: $12,600
> Average attorney fee: $10,000 (24th highest)
> Court filing fee: $150 (12th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 2.8 per 1,000 residents (16th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

25. Louisiana
> Average cost of divorce: $12,600
> Average attorney fee: $10,000 (24th highest)
> Court filing fee: $327.50 (8th highest)
> Divorce rate: 2.8 per 1,000 residents (15th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

24. Oregon
> Average cost of divorce: $12,700
> Average attorney fee: $10,000 (24th highest)
> Court filing fee: $287 (17th highest)
> Divorce rate: 3.4 per 1,000 residents (17th highest)

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23. Michigan
> Average cost of divorce: $12,900
> Average attorney fee: $10,200 (23rd highest)
> Court filing fee: $175 (19th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.0 per 1,000 residents (21st lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

22. Arizona
> Average cost of divorce: $13,000
> Average attorney fee: $10,300 (20th highest)
> Court filing fee: $341 (6th highest)
> Divorce rate: 3.6 per 1,000 residents (13th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

21. North Carolina
> Average cost of divorce: $13,100
> Average attorney fee: $10,300 (20th highest)
> Court filing fee: $75 (3rd lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.1 per 1,000 residents (24th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

20. Alaska
> Average cost of divorce: $13,100
> Average attorney fee: $10,300 (20th highest)
> Court filing fee: $200 (24th highest)
> Divorce rate: 4.1 per 1,000 residents (5th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

19. Utah
> Average cost of divorce: $13,200
> Average attorney fee: $10,400 (18th highest)
> Court filing fee: $310 (12th highest)
> Divorce rate: 3.6 per 1,000 residents (14th highest)

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18. Rhode Island
> Average cost of divorce: $13,200
> Average attorney fee: $10,400 (18th highest)
> Court filing fee: $160 (15th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.0 per 1,000 residents (20th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

17. Washington
> Average cost of divorce: $13,400
> Average attorney fee: $10,600 (16th highest)
> Court filing fee: $314 (9th highest)
> Divorce rate: 3.4 per 1,000 residents (18th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

16. Missouri
> Average cost of divorce: $13,500
> Average attorney fee: $10,600 (16th highest)
> Court filing fee: $145 (10th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.2 per 1,000 residents (24th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

15. Florida
> Average cost of divorce: $13,500
> Average attorney fee: $10,700 (15th highest)
> Court filing fee: $409 (2nd highest)
> Divorce rate: 4.0 per 1,000 residents (8th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

14. Nevada
> Average cost of divorce: $13,700
> Average attorney fee: $10,800 (14th highest)
> Court filing fee: $314 (9th highest)
> Divorce rate: 4.6 per 1,000 residents (2nd highest)

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13. Illinois
> Average cost of divorce: $13,800
> Average attorney fee: $10,900 (13th highest)
> Court filing fee: $359 (4th highest)
> Divorce rate: 2.2 per 1,000 residents (7th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

12. Maryland
> Average cost of divorce: $14,000
> Average attorney fee: $11,000 (12th highest)
> Court filing fee: $165 (17th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 2.6 per 1,000 residents (10th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

11. Pennsylvania
> Average cost of divorce: $14,300
> Average attorney fee: $11,300 (11th highest)
> Court filing fee: $328.98 (7th highest)
> Divorce rate: 2.6 per 1,000 residents (13th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

10. Virginia
> Average cost of divorce: $14,500
> Average attorney fee: $11,500 (9th highest)
> Court filing fee: $86 (5th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.3 per 1,000 residents (21st highest)

Source: Thinkstock

9. Colorado
> Average cost of divorce: $14,500
> Average attorney fee: $11,400 (10th highest)
> Court filing fee: $230 (20th highest)
> Divorce rate: 3.7 per 1,000 residents (10th highest)

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8. Georgia
> Average cost of divorce: $14,700
> Average attorney fee: $11,600 (8th highest)
> Court filing fee: $220 (21st highest)
> Divorce rate: N/A

Source: Thinkstock

7. Connecticut
> Average cost of divorce: $15,500
> Average attorney fee: $12,200 (7th highest)
> Court filing fee: $350 (5th highest)
> Divorce rate: 3.1 per 1,000 residents (25th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

6. Texas
> Average cost of divorce: $15,600
> Average attorney fee: $12,400 (5th highest)
> Court filing fee: $295 (16th highest)
> Divorce rate: 2.6 per 1,000 residents (9th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

5. New Jersey
> Average cost of divorce: $15,600
> Average attorney fee: $12,300 (6th highest)
> Court filing fee: $300 (14th highest)
> Divorce rate: 2.8 per 1,000 residents (17th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

4. Massachusetts
> Average cost of divorce: $15,900
> Average attorney fee: $12,600 (4th highest)
> Court filing fee: $200 (24th highest)
> Divorce rate: 2.6 per 1,000 residents (8th lowest)

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3. Delaware
> Average cost of divorce: $16,200
> Average attorney fee: $12,800 (3rd highest)
> Court filing fee: $160 (15th lowest)
> Divorce rate: 3.1 per 1,000 residents (25th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

2. New York
> Average cost of divorce: $17,100
> Average attorney fee: $13,500 (2nd highest)
> Court filing fee: $314 (9th highest)
> Divorce rate: 2.7 per 1,000 residents (14th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

1. California
> Average cost of divorce: $17,500
> Average attorney fee: $13,800 (the highest)
> Court filing fee: $435 (the highest)
> Divorce rate: N/A

Detailed Findings & Methodology

Divorce often involves a complex legal process and can be difficult to navigate for couples without professional law experience. Approximately 4 in 5 divorcing couples hire lawyers, which are typically the largest expense in the divorce process. Nationwide, the average divorce attorney costs $250 per hour, with lawyers in major metropolitan areas charging as much as $500 an hour on average. Many of the states with the highest average divorce attorney costs have large metropolitan areas, such as California, New York, and New Jersey.

Depending on the number of assets and degree of complication involved in the marriage dissolution process, a divorce can take more than a year to complete, and couples can end up paying attorneys for dozens of hours of service. On average, attorney cost divorcing couples in the United States a total of $10,000 in service fees, roughly 80% of the overall cost of divorce of $12,700.

A number of factors — whether the couple has children, whether there are alimony or property division issues, whether the divorce is contested and goes to trial — make a divorce even costlier.

Divorces involving minor children is one of the most expensive categories of divorce. The average couple divorcing with children younger than 18 years-old spends $19,200 on the marriage dissolution process, nearly $7,000 more than divorces of couples without minor children. Divorces involving property cost $16,000 on average; cases involving alimony cost $18,000; and those that go to trial — which 75% of couples avoid as it can double the expense of the whole process — cost $22,500.

Divorce law varies greatly by state and can make the process far more expensive. States with residency requirements and minimum processing periods can prolong the divorce process, necessitating additional litigation and increased lawyer bills. One of the most expensive states to get divorced in, Rhode Island, has a minimum processing time of 510 days, the second longest of any state. In other expensive states to get divorced, such as Connecticut, Maryland, and Massachusetts, residents must have lived in the state for at least a year before beginning the divorce process, making it difficult for couples new to the area to end their marriage.

Court fees can also pose a substantial expense to divorcing couples. The cost of filing for divorce ranges from $50 in Mississippi to $435 in California. Like most expenses associated with divorce, the number of complications involved in the marriage dissolution and whether the divorce is contested or not can significantly increase the amount of court fees involved in a divorce.

To determine the most (and least) expensive states to get a divorce, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the average cost of a divorce from lawyer marketing service company Martindale Nolo Research’s 2015 divorce study. Court filing fees were obtained from various state and county court websites and are the most recent figures available. For states in which court filing fees vary by county, the court filing fee for the largest county in the state was used to represent the statewide figure. For Louisiana, the filing fee for Orleans Parish was used. The number of divorces per 1,000 residents for each state came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are for 2015.