Wondering how much your divorce will cost?
The median cost of a divorce in the U.S. is $7,000, while the average is between $15,000 and $20,000. Uncontested divorces can be significantly cheaper, with the average cost of divorce without a lawyer being $925. The median amount for those who handled their own divorce was only $300, while amicable divorces could cost under $500. The national average cost of divorce is about $15,000 per person.
What Is The Cost of a Divorce?
The average cost of divorce in the United States is $15,000. The good news is that the cost of a divorce can be managed just as you manage a household budget. That being said, if you have assets and want to protect those assets, your first concern should not be getting divorced as cheaply as possible. When it comes to getting a divorce, you may have to spend money to save if you have many assets to protect.
Going after a “cheap” divorce may have both short-term and long-term consequences. When negotiating the division of property, retirement benefits, or the issue of spousal support, it will pay to pay, if you know what I mean.
How much your divorce costs depends on the route you take when getting a divorce.
According to Illinois Legal Aid Online, the average cost of a divorce in Illinois is estimated to be around $15,000, with the average filing fee being $435 and attorney’s fees hovering around $13,800. In some cases, divorces can cost as little as $4,000. Complex cases or ones involving children, property, assets, and alimony may cost more, while simpler cases may cost less.
The length of your marriage and the complexities of your shared assets will affect how much your divorce will cost. The longer you’ve been together, the more assets and debts you have, and the more likely it is you will spend a large sum of money trying to obtain a divorce.
Below are the four main ways of obtaining a divorce:
1. Divorce Court:
If you and your spouse cannot mediate and agree on issues such as property division, child custody, or spousal support, your next step will be divorce court. This is when it gets expensive. You will both hire attorneys and other experts to advocate for you in court. There will be court fees and filing fees to pay. You will pay your attorney by the hour, and the cost of that depends on what area of the country you live in.
If you are lucky, you will both hire attorneys willing to work together to reach an agreed settlement. If you aren’t, you will become the victim of adversarial attorneys who will drag out the divorce, and when this happens, costs become excessive.
Divorce court fees vary by state but typically range from $100 to $350. In Washington State, agreed divorce services charge between $500 and $700, including the court filing fee. If you do your own divorce papers and your divorce is amicable, costs could be under $500. The overall average total cost of a full-scope attorney was $11,300 in a survey, but fees ranged from an average of $4,000 for those with no contested issues.
Divorce mediation is an effective alternative to court litigation for resolving disputes that come up as two people divorce.
A mediator, acting as an impartial third party, helps couples work through their divorce issues to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.
In most states, mediation is a voluntary process that allows couples to retain control over the outcome of their divorce without hiring attorneys and going to divorce court. The only cost associated with a mediated divorce is the cost of the mediator, fees paid to have an attorney review the agreement, and filing fees with the court.
For mediation to be successful, it takes two parties willing to negotiate every aspect of their divorce settlement.
According to Nolo, the typical cost of private divorce mediation is between $3,000 and $8,000, with each spouse typically paying about $1,500 to $4,000. The cost can vary depending on location, type of mediator, level of expertise, and the case’s complexity.
3. Do It Yourself/Pro Se Litigation:
Pro Se divorce litigation means you are representing yourself in your divorce case without an attorney. The procedures you must follow are the same if you are represented by an attorney, except you will be responsible for filling out and filing all the legal forms. Should you go to divorce court and represent yourself, the only costs associated with Pro Se Litigation are filing fees and court costs.
To be a successful Pro Se litigant, time will need to be spent on learning your state’s divorce laws. You will also need to familiarize yourself with your local family court rules of procedure for Family Court cases. Obtaining a divorce without an attorney is a lot of work, but it is your best option if you can’t afford an attorney.
4. Collaborative Divorce:
In a Collaborative Divorce, there will be two attorneys, two Collaborative Coaches, a Divorce Financial Specialist, and a Child Specialist if you have children. Although Collaborative Divorce can be expensive, in the long run, it is far less expensive than a long, drawn-out, litigated divorce. During the Collaborative process, you pay each specialist their own hourly rate, but there are no court fees or filing fees associated with the process.
The cost of your divorce will depend on which of the above methods you choose. Mediation is, by far, the least expensive way to navigate the divorce process. A divorce mediator will charge from $100 an hour to a couple of $100 an hour. If both spouses are willing to negotiate and work together on the divorce terms, a good mediator can finish their job in a few hours.
Compare that to the thousands of dollars you will spend in divorce court or with a Collaborative Divorce team, and mediation is your best bet for holding down the cost of divorce.