How much does divorce cost?

1 min readLast updated March 8, 2024by Unbiased team

Find out how much divorce costs in the US and what kind of factors influence its total bill.

Summary 

  • The average cost of a divorce in the US is $7,000, and almost 50% of couples end up divorced. 

  • Divorce costs increase or decrease depending on whether you have a lawyer or not.  

  • Divorce mediation and collaborative divorce options influence cost outcomes.  

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during divorce and rebuild afterward.  

What is the average cost of a divorce?  

Almost 50% of all marriages in the US result in divorce or separation of some kind.  

With such a high divorce rate, it makes sense that so many couples look into the cost of divorce and how to go about financing one should the situation call for it.  

The median cost of a divorce in the US is around $7,000.  

This figure represents the median amount spent across millions of individual couples every year, many of whom spend much more (or less in some cases) to end their marriage legally. 

The average is between $15,000 and $20,000.

If there are other factors involved in settling the divorce, such as child custody or property disputes, couples can expect to pay as much as $100,000 for a divorce.  

On the other end of the spectrum, uncontested or DIY divorces can cost as little as $200 to $2,000, depending on the state in which the couple is filing for separation.  

A financial advisor can help you navigate the finances surrounding divorce and ensure you’re not paying any more than you need to. Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to your unique situation. Answer a few questions about your financial needs, and we’ll do the rest. Get started here. 

How much does a divorce cost with a lawyer?  

Hiring a divorce lawyer to supervise legal separation proceedings can speed up and simplify the process.

However, it also comes with a few added costs to compensate for the lawyer’s time and expertise.  

According to Forbes, the average cost of a divorce with a lawyer in the US is between $15,000 and $20,000.  

This can include a variety of payment requirements, such as a retainer, hourly rate, and court fees.  

How much does a divorce lawyer cost per hour? 

The amount that a divorce lawyer charges per hour varies greatly from person to person.  

However, the average cost of a divorce lawyer in the US is between $100 and $300 per hour.  

How much does a divorce cost without a lawyer?  

According to Forbes, the median cost of a divorce filing without a lawyer is around $300.  

However, with the guidance of a lawyer, partners are able to agree on every aspect of the divorce filing, which can be difficult to navigate if there are internal disputes.  

Without a lawyer, divorce proceedings tend to be slower, which can result in accumulated court fees and other expenses that occur until a final agreement is reached.  

How much does a DIY divorce cost?  

A DIY divorce is a divorce that is executed without the guidance of a professional lawyer.  

Some couples choose to have a DIY divorce if they are trying to save money or if they feel that they can settle the dispute in a completely mutual and pacifistic way.  

Couples divorcing via the DIY method will need to cover their own court fees, divorce fee forms, and divorce mediation sessions.  

How much does divorce mediation cost?  

Divorce mediation is a process in which a professional supervises a marital separation for a more efficient and collaborative outcome.  

A person who provides this service may guide couples to address various issues with divorce, settle differences, and reach a fair agreement.  

A divorce mediator may also highlight options regarding asset distribution and management, child custody, and determining spousal and child support amounts.  

The average cost of divorce mediation is between $250 and $500 per hour. The amount depends on the mediator and their payment structure.  

The average cost of mediation falls between $5,000 and $15,000.

How much does a collaborative divorce cost?  

A collaborative divorce is a process in which both parties negotiate the terms of their divorce rather than handing decisions over to external lawyers. This approach can reduce fighting and allow for a more equal, mutually satisfying outcome.  

Collaborative divorce costs tend to be higher than regular divorce processes because it entails both parties actively negotiating terms, which, if oppositional, can take longer to correspond.  

The average collaborative divorce costs are anywhere between $15,000 and $50,000.

However, these costs may rise depending on the complexity of the divorce and the cooperation and willingness of both parties to come to an agreement. 

What factors influence the cost of a divorce?  

Several factors can increase or decrease the cost of divorce, and learning more about them can help you prepare for a more cost-effective separation process.  

The most common factors include: 

  • Mediation – Divorce mediation can be expensive due to the skills and time involved. The more hours of mediation you rack up, the more expensive your divorce is likely to be.

  • Children – If you share children with your spouse, you will need to negotiate custody. This can become a difficult and drawn-out process that calls for more time with lawyers and more time in court, both of which influence the total bill of a divorce.

  • Lack of collaboration – The more contested a divorce battle is, the more expensive and long-winded it will be. Uncontested, mutually agreeable divorces tend to be more affordable. 

  • Shared property or significant assets – The assets shared between married couples need to be distributed fairly and legitimately. But figuring out who gets what can take time, and that can ramp up the divorce bill.  

How can I financially recover after a divorce? 

Divorce can be an expensive process on a number of levels. But that doesn’t mean you can’t recover from it with the right financial strategy and advice.  

With the average cost of a divorce ranging between $7,000 and $100,000, being unprepared for a legal separation can lead to some financial instability. However, working with an expert is a way to help minimize costs during a divorce and rebuild in the aftermath. 

A financial advisor can not only help you prepare for divorce before the legal settlements are made, but they can also guide you through the process from a financial perspective and help you create a plan to regain control of your finances once the separation is complete.  

Get expert financial advice  

No matter which way you spin it, the cost of divorce is high. However, when equipped with more information about which legal support to obtain and how to implement a separation that suits their needs, any couple can successfully minimize the cost of their divorce.  

If you need financial guidance or advice during a divorce or afterward, an SEC-regulated financial advisor is your best option.  

Unbiased will match you with a financial advisor whose expertise meets your needs exactly. 

Find a financial advisor now

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.