Special Report

Most Expensive States to Get a Divorce

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Today, about 46% of marriages in the United States end in divorce, down from 49% a decade ago. Divorce is often considered one of the most stressful life events, second only to the death of a spouse. While much of the stress is emotional, there is often a financial element as well.

Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage, and like many processes that involve attorneys, it can be extremely expensive.

According to a study released by Nolo, a self-help legal publisher, the typical divorce costs $15,500. And as the most common hourly rate for a divorce attorney is $250, legal fees typically account for the majority of the cost of a divorce.

Divorce costs add up quickly and can fluctuate depending on circumstances. Generally, contentious divorces that require a trial are more expensive than amicable splits settled out of court. Divorce costs also go up when children are involved. These factors, and others like regional differences in living costs, can mean high variance in the cost of divorce from state to state..

Using survey data presented in Martindale Nolo Research’s 2015 divorce study, 24/7 Wall St. determined the average cost of a divorce in each state. All other factors being equal, the cost of a divorce ranges from as little as $8,400 to as much as $17,500.

Click here to see the most expensive states to get a divorce. 

States with higher divorce costs tend to have overall higher costs of living. Of the 10 states where divorces are most expensive, only two have a lower than average cost of living.

Whether or not high costs help discourage divorce is unclear, but divorces are generally less common in the 10 states where the process is most expensive. Georgia and Colorado are the only states with the highest divorce costs where a larger share of the 15 and older population is divorced than the 10.9% national share.

Methodology

To determine the most expensive states to get a divorce, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the average cost of a divorce from self-help legal publishing company Martindale Nolo Research’s 2015 divorce study. Overall costs of living by state are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and are for 2016. The shares of the population 15 and older that are divorced are for 2017 and are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Divorce rates are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are for 2016.

50. Montana
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $8,400
> Avg. cost with children: $12,600
> Divorced population (15 and older): 12.6% (12th highest)
> Cost of living: 5.9% less than average (24th lowest)

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49. Kentucky
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $10,200
> Avg. cost with children: $15,300
> Divorced population (15 and older): 13.1% (8th highest)
> Cost of living: 12.2% less than average (5th lowest)

48. Nebraska
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $10,400
> Avg. cost with children: $15,600
> Divorced population (15 and older): 10.3% (13th lowest)
> Cost of living: 9.5% less than average (16th lowest)

47. North Dakota
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $10,400
> Avg. cost with children: $15,600
> Divorced population (15 and older): 9.3% (5th lowest)
> Cost of living: 8.5% less than average (18th lowest)

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46. West Virginia
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $10,400
> Avg. cost with children: $15,600
> Divorced population (15 and older): 13.3% (4th highest)
> Cost of living: 12.4% less than average (4th lowest)

45. New Mexico
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $10,700
> Avg. cost with children: $16,000
> Divorced population (15 and older): 13.3% (4th highest)
> Cost of living: 6.4% less than average (23rd lowest)

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44. South Dakota
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $10,900
> Avg. cost with children: $16,300
> Divorced population (15 and older): 11.2% (22nd lowest)
> Cost of living: 11.7% less than average (6th lowest)

43. Kansas
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $10,900
> Avg. cost with children: $16,400
> Divorced population (15 and older): 11.4% (24th lowest)
> Cost of living: 9.5% less than average (16th lowest)

42. Mississippi
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $11,000
> Avg. cost with children: $16,500
> Divorced population (15 and older): 11.7% (24th highest)
> Cost of living: 13.6% less than average (the lowest)

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41. Arkansas
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $11,100
> Avg. cost with children: $16,700
> Divorced population (15 and older): 13.6% (3rd highest)
> Cost of living: 13.1% less than average (3rd lowest)

40. Maine
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $11,100
> Avg. cost with children: $16,700
> Divorced population (15 and older): 14.6% (the highest)
> Cost of living: 1.6% less than average (19th highest)

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39. Idaho
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $11,200
> Avg. cost with children: $16,800
> Divorced population (15 and older): 12.2% (18th highest)
> Cost of living: 7.0% less than average (21st lowest)

38. Vermont
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $11,200
> Avg. cost with children: $16,900
> Divorced population (15 and older): 13.0% (9th highest)
> Cost of living: 1.6% more than average (13th highest)

37. Wisconsin
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $11,300
> Avg. cost with children: $16,900
> Divorced population (15 and older): 10.9% (21st lowest)
> Cost of living: 7.2% less than average (20th lowest)

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36. Indiana
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $11,400
> Avg. cost with children: $1,710
> Divorced population (15 and older): 12.4% (14th highest)
> Cost of living: 9.7% less than average (13th lowest)

35. Wyoming
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $11,400
> Avg. cost with children: $17,200
> Divorced population (15 and older): 13.3% (4th highest)
> Cost of living: 3.3% less than average (25th highest)

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34. Minnesota
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $11,400
> Avg. cost with children: $21,300
> Divorced population (15 and older): 10.2% (12th lowest)
> Cost of living: 2.5% less than average (21st highest)

33. Hawaii
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $11,700
> Avg. cost with children: $17,500
> Divorced population (15 and older): 9.7% (8th lowest)
> Cost of living: 18.4% more than average (the highest)

32. Iowa
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $11,700
> Avg. cost with children: $17,600
> Divorced population (15 and older): 10.7% (17th lowest)
> Cost of living: 9.8% less than average (11th lowest)

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31. New Hampshire
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $12,300
> Avg. cost with children: $18,500
> Divorced population (15 and older): 12.3% (16th highest)
> Cost of living: 5.9% more than average (8th highest)

30. Oklahoma
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $12,500
> Avg. cost with children: $18,700
> Divorced population (15 and older): 13.3% (4th highest)
> Cost of living: 11.0% less than average (7th lowest)

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29. Alabama
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $12,500
> Avg. cost with children: $18,800
> Divorced population (15 and older): 12.3% (16th highest)
> Cost of living: 13.4% less than average (2nd lowest)

28. Ohio
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $12,500
> Avg. cost with children: $18,800
> Divorced population (15 and older): 12.0% (21st highest)
> Cost of living: 10.7% less than average (8th lowest)

27. Louisiana
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $12,600
> Avg. cost with children: $18,900
> Divorced population (15 and older): 11.6% (25th highest)
> Cost of living: 9.6% less than average (14th lowest)

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26. South Carolina
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $12,600
> Avg. cost with children: $18,900
> Divorced population (15 and older): 10.5% (14th lowest)
> Cost of living: 9.7% less than average (13th lowest)

25. Tennessee
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $12,600
> Avg. cost with children: $18,900
> Divorced population (15 and older): 12.1% (20th highest)
> Cost of living: 9.8% less than average (11th lowest)

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24. Oregon
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $12,700
> Avg. cost with children: $19,100
> Divorced population (15 and older): 12.8% (11th highest)
> Cost of living: 0.2% less than average (15th highest)

23. Michigan
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $12,900
> Avg. cost with children: $19,400
> Divorced population (15 and older): 11.5% (25th lowest)
> Cost of living: 6.7% less than average (22nd lowest)

22. Arizona
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $13,000
> Avg. cost with children: $19,500
> Divorced population (15 and older): 12.4% (14th highest)
> Cost of living: 4.1% less than average (25th lowest)

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21. Alaska
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $13,100
> Avg. cost with children: $19,600
> Divorced population (15 and older): 12.2% (18th highest)
> Cost of living: 5.4% more than average (10th highest)

20. North Carolina
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $13,100
> Avg. cost with children: $19,700
> Divorced population (15 and older): 10.9% (21st lowest)
> Cost of living: 9.1% less than average (17th lowest)

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19. Rhode Island
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $13,200
> Avg. cost with children: $19,800
> Divorced population (15 and older): 10.6% (16th lowest)
> Cost of living: 0.4% less than average (17th highest)

18. Utah
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $13,200
> Avg. cost with children: $19,800
> Divorced population (15 and older): 9.2% (3rd lowest)
> Cost of living: 2.7% less than average (23rd highest)

17. Washington
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $13,400
> Avg. cost with children: $20,100
> Divorced population (15 and older): 11.9% (22nd highest)
> Cost of living: 5.5% more than average (9th highest)

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16. Missouri
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $13,500
> Avg. cost with children: $20,200
> Divorced population (15 and older): 12.6% (12th highest)
> Cost of living: 10.5% less than average (9th lowest)

15. Florida
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $13,500
> Avg. cost with children: $20,300
> Divorced population (15 and older): 13.0% (9th highest)
> Cost of living: 0.3% less than average (16th highest)

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14. Nevada
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $13,700
> Avg. cost with children: $20,600
> Divorced population (15 and older): 13.9% (2nd highest)
> Cost of living: 2.6% less than average (22nd highest)

13. Illinois
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $13,800
> Avg. cost with children: $20,700
> Divorced population (15 and older): 9.6% (7th lowest)
> Cost of living: 1.1% less than average (18th highest)

12. Maryland
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $14,000
> Avg. cost with children: $21,000
> Divorced population (15 and older): 9.9% (10th lowest)
> Cost of living: 9.5% more than average (5th highest)

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11. Pennsylvania
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $14,300
> Avg. cost with children: $21,500
> Divorced population (15 and older): 9.8% (9th lowest)
> Cost of living: 1.6% less than average (19th highest)

10. Colorado
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $14,500
> Avg. cost with children: $21,700
> Divorced population (15 and older): 11.9% (22nd highest)
> Cost of living: 3.0% more than average (11th highest)

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9. Virginia
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $14,500
> Avg. cost with children: $21,800
> Divorced population (15 and older): 10.0% (11th lowest)
> Cost of living: 2.3% more than average (12th highest)

8. Georgia
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $14,700
> Avg. cost with children: $22,000
> Divorced population (15 and older): 11.3% (23rd lowest)
> Cost of living: 7.9% less than average (19th lowest)

7. Connecticut
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $15,500
> Avg. cost with children: $23,300
> Divorced population (15 and older): 10.9% (21st lowest)
> Cost of living: 8.7% more than average (6th highest)

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6. New Jersey
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $15,600
> Avg. cost with children: $23,400
> Divorced population (15 and older): 8.6% (the lowest)
> Cost of living: 13.2% more than average (4th highest)

5. Texas
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $15,600
> Avg. cost with children: $23,500
> Divorced population (15 and older): 10.6% (16th lowest)
> Cost of living: 3.1% less than average (24th highest)

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4. Massachusetts
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $15,900
> Avg. cost with children: $23,900
> Divorced population (15 and older): 9.5% (6th lowest)
> Cost of living: 7.8% more than average (7th highest)

3. Delaware
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $16,200
> Avg. cost with children: $24,300
> Divorced population (15 and older): 10.9% (21st lowest)
> Cost of living: 0.2% more than average (14th highest)

2. New York
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $17,100
> Avg. cost with children: $25,600
> Divorced population (15 and older): 8.7% (2nd lowest)
> Cost of living: 15.6% more than average (2nd highest)

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1. California
> Avg. cost of a divorce: $17,500
> Avg. cost with children: $26,300
> Divorced population (15 and older): 9.3% (5th lowest)
> Cost of living: 14.4% more than average (3rd highest)

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