January is unofficially known as divorce month. Divorce filings spike as the holiday season ends. One possible explanation is a desire to start the new year — and a new period in a person’s life — fresh.
Working through a separation is still a very stressful experience. While much of the stress is emotional, there is often a financial element as well.
24/7 Tempo reviewed data presented in Martindale Nolo Research’s 2015 divorce study to determine the average cost of a divorce in each state. All other factors being equal, the cost of a divorce can be as little as $8,400 or as much as $17,500.
Couples who want to legally end their marriage often hire lawyers to negotiate the terms of the divorce for them. But legal representation doesn’t come cheap. The average attorney fee in the United States during divorce proceedings is $12,800, with an average rate of $250 per hour, according to a study released by Nolo, a self-help legal publisher.
The typical divorce costs $15,500. It’s no surprise, then, that many couples choose to separate but remain legally married – they simply can’t afford to officially go their separate ways.
While lawyers’ fees make up the bulk of the financial cost, the divorce process can very quickly become even more expensive if the couple have children and assets to divide. This is when even amicable separations turn sour and require a trial – and a trial will add another cost to the split.
These factors and others, like regional differences in living costs, can mean considerable variations in the costs of divorce from state to state. Divorces are generally less common in the states where the process is most expensive, but it is unclear if the high cost actually discourage 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.
Bitter arguments are common. They prolong the divorce proceedings, making them even more expensive and resulting in unusual and even extreme clauses – here are 17 really weird divorce conditions and settlements.
To determine the most expensive states to get a divorce, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on the average cost of a divorce from self-help legal publishing company Martindale Nolo Research’s 2015 divorce study, the latest year for which data is available. Overall costs of living by state are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and are for 2017. The shares of the population 15 and older that are divorced are for 2018 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 2018. Regional price parity for 2017 is from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.