How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

The cost of a divorce can reach five figures if lawyers are involved

two people standing in front of a coin

The Balance / Alison Czinkota

Divorces are not cheap. They can reach five figures if lawyers are involved. While the average cost of divorce in the U.S. is several thousand dollars, location and other factors can impact that number considerably.

When a couple gets married, they’re usually in it for the long haul. However, not every marriage lasts forever. And no one plans to pay for a divorce. But research shows that for every 1,000 marriages, about two end in divorce, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A divorce can have a major emotional toll on the family involved. However, it can also have a large financial impact. Learn more about how much a divorce really costs.

Key Takeaways

  • The average cost of divorce in the U.S. is $7,500, although the location and other factors can impact that number considerably.
  • Attorney and legal fees make up a large part of divorce costs.
  • Factors such as children, alimony, or uncooperative spouses can cause the cost of divorce to skyrocket.
  • For amicable divorces that don’t require the assistance of an attorney, it’s possible to spend less than $1,000.

The Average Cost of Divorce

Getting divorced is not an inexpensive process, but the cost will depend on one's individual financial situation, how contentious the divorce is, and whether or not the case goes to court.

A survey by the legal site Nolo found the median cost of attorney’s fees for a divorce with a lawyer in 2019 to be $7,000, and the average sat at $11,300. For those who had an uncontested divorce, average total costs including attorneys' fees were $4,100.

Location can also have a major impact on the average cost of divorce. For instance, in New York, an uncontested divorce costs at least $335 in court and filing fees. In California, court fees run between $435 and $450. Those numbers jump quite a bit if legal help is needed.

It’s important to understand that the cost of getting a divorce is not a one-size-fits-all number. It depends on many factors, such as the financial standing of the people involved and whether they hire a divorce attorney.

What Affects the Cost of a Divorce?

The total cost of divorce will depend on the financial status of the couple at hand. Below, find more details on the various factors that will impact how much you spend on a divorce.

Attorney’s Fees

“The total amount that will ultimately be spent on legal fees to your divorce attorney will be based on how much time and effort is required to reach a final agreement, which makes the final amount paid unpredictable,” said Sandra Radna, founder of the Law Offices of Sandra M. Radna, P.C., and author of “You’re Getting Divorced...Now What?”

“It is important to understand that an attorney cannot force your spouse to agree, and reaching a final agreement may require more time and effort than you expect.”


In the U.S., the hourly rate for a divorce attorney can range from less than $150 per hour to more than $1,000 per hour, depending on where you live in the country, according to Radna.

Complexity of Assets and Liabilities

Divorce coach Kara Francis said that the types of assets owned and liabilities owed by the parties involved (such as bank accounts, investments, real estate, business interests, credit cards, and loans) can impact the cost of the divorce. Particularly complex financial situations might require more time spent by attorneys and others.

“Sometimes, a professional must be hired to prepare a valuation or appraisal of certain assets, which will cause the parties to incur additional costs and time,” Francis said.


“Litigating with attorneys—especially if the case is high-conflict or litigious—will almost always be the most expensive route to get divorced,” said Francis.

Litigation requires multiple court appearances, extensive legal writing and argument, analysis of documents, and more, which can all add to divorce costs quickly.

If the case ends up going to trial, you will incur additional significant costs for depositions, production of expert reports, trial preparation, conducting the trial itself, and post-trial writing and argument. “By the end of this battle, you may find that the marital estate you have been fighting over so vociferously is now gutted by having to pay attorneys’ fees,” Francis said.


There is also the option of mediation, which is typically more affordable than a litigated divorce, according to Radna. “A mediator helps the parties come to an agreement with regard to the issues in their divorce,” she said.


Couples with children often have to spend more on a divorce than those without kids. That’s particularly true if the parties involved disagree about how custody and parenting should be handled. The average cost of a divorce involving children is $15,000.


Spousal maintenance (also known as alimony) is money that the court may decide a primary earning ex-spouse is required to pay the other spouse after a divorce. In some cases, a spouse may be required to pay temporary spousal maintenance while the action is pending in contested divorces.


Child support is not the same as alimony. While alimony is meant to benefit the spouse, child support is meant to help meet the basic needs of the child, including food, clothing, medical care, and other costs.

Other Professionals Involved in the Case

In addition to attorneys, you may have to hire and pay other professionals to help value assets and resolve disputes. For example, Francis said, you may need to hire a home appraiser, accountant, financial planner, estate-planning attorney, therapist, or other professional to value your assets.

How Much Does a Do-It-Yourself Divorce Cost?

Radna said that a DIY divorce could could cost under $1,000 and be beneficial in some cases. If you are facing an uncontested divorce, were married for a short time, don’t have any children with your spouse, and/or both parties agree to the divorce, going the DIY route may be the best option.

“Some divorcing couples opt for online divorces when they are in these circumstances,” Radna said.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

Another important factor is whether the case is contested or uncontested, according to Francis.

“A contested case means that the parties dispute one or more issues, whether financial, child-related, or both,” Francis said. “If the case is contested, the parties will have to resolve the disputed issues.”

Conversely, an uncontested case means the parties are in agreement on all issues, Francis said. In this case, a Marital Settlement Agreement and/or Parenting Agreement can be drafted, executed, and presented to the judge for entry. “Depending on the circumstances and complexity of the case, an uncontested case will usually be much cheaper and faster than a contested case,” Francis said.

The Bottom Line

The cost of a divorce varies widely depending on several factors, particularly how cooperative the parties involved are, whether they have children, how complex their financial situation is, and where they are located. When pursuing a divorce, it’s important to understand how much it will cost and be prepared to foot that expense. Taking measures to avoid court time will help keep down costs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the average cost of a divorce?

The average cost of divorce in the U.S. is $7,500. However, this number can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the couple’s location, whether they hire an attorney, and whether the divorce is contested.

How much does a divorce lawyer cost?

Nationally, a divorce lawyer charges $270 per hour, on average.

What is the cheapest cost for a divorce?

The cost of a divorce is significantly less if no attorney or court time is required to come to an agreement. At the very least, a divorce requires court fees, which typically run a few hundred dollars. However, if you can’t afford those fees, you may be able to apply to have them waived.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “FastStats—Marriage and Divorce.”

  2. Nolo. "How Much Will My Divorce Cost?"

  3. New York State Unified Court System. “Filing for an Uncontested Divorce.”

  4. Judicial Branch of California. “Divorce in California.”

  5. “Divorce With Children: How Much Does It Cost and How Long Does It Take?

  6. New York State Unified Court system. “Divorce Information & Frequently Asked Questions.”

  7. “The Cost and Duration of Divorce.”

  8. “How Much Divorce Lawyers Charge.”

  9. “How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?

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