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.
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.
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.