How much does a divorce cost in the United States?

As painful as it may be to admit it, marriages are not for life. There are many factors -such as the partner’s anger, lack of love or infidelity- that affect life together and that can lead a once-happy couple to make the difficult decision to divorce. The good news is that, as long as the separation is by mutual agreement, the stress associated with the procedure, the emotional burdens and -of course- the bills are considerably reduced.

But the truth is that -even if we wanted to- not all divorces are easy or cheap. Even volunteers could put you and your children’s financial security at risk. That is why it is worth asking how much does it cost to get divorced and how to reduce expenses to a minimum.

So how much does a divorce cost in the United States?

The cost of a divorce in the United States is high and this statement includes voluntary procedures. Remember that -unfortunately- there are payments that are unavoidable, such as attorneys’ fees and community property appraisals.

According to a survey carried out in 2019 by Bankrate, each person must pay an average of USD $15,000 to be able to get a divorce, although as NGOs, societies and civil associations -such as Untied- affirm, this figure is obtained by averaging the costs at the national level. and, in many cases, it could be higher (USD $30,000).

Now, this average can rise like foam if the couple decides to go to trial. Although only 10% of divorces end in litigation, the costs of a trial can easily reach $100,000 per person.

What factors go into the cost of a divorce?

Generally, the increase or decrease in divorce expenses in the United States is related to the nature of the proceeding – that is, whether it is voluntary or not – and the income or assets of the marriage. Other factors that can contribute to the increase in the cost of the procedure are:

  • The state or county in which you reside.
  • Hearings and fees related to mediation.
  • Extra expenses, such as psychological and medical evaluations, etc.
  • Expenses for the appointment of a guardian ad litem, in case there are minor children.
  • Fees, contributions and federal and state taxes related to the transfer of property.

As expected, the choice of law firm also has a weight -and a lot- in the total price of the divorce. The minimum that a Manhattan firm asks for in advance to start the procedure is around USD $25,000-$30,000, while hiring an experienced lawyer in New Jersey does not usually exceed USD $10,000.

How can I reduce divorce expenses?

Before starting the procedure, keep in mind that family lawyers charge for everything, including phone calls or writing a simple letter. The same is true if a mediator is hired to negotiate issues such as child custody, child support, and the distribution of property or fortune in common. Although cheaper than going to trial, an arbitrated proceeding ranges from $8,000 to $11,000 in total.

Does this mean that reducing divorce expenses is an impossible task? Not necessarily. If you want to keep expenses at bay:

  • Try to reach a private agreement. If the couple manages to put their differences aside, they could save the expense of hearings and mediation.
  • Keep the procedure as short as possible. Although many lawyers have a fixed fee per divorce, others charge by the hour. That is why it is preferable to try not to delay the procedure.
  • Consider foregoing legal representation. There are two options for getting divorced in the United States that you can try without having to use a lawyer: Internet divorce and self-representation divorce. If they choose this alternative, they will be responsible for doing all the paperwork, including verifying the status of the divorce. In both cases, the expenses would not even reach USD $5,000 per couple.

Study the option of a no contest divorce. Although it is not completely free, it can be much cheaper than the online option. In this case, the cost per divorce is set at USD $400, although the amount varies depending on the county.