The Average Cost of a Divorce in the U.S.


How much does a divorce cost?

First, the good news: the divorce rate in the United States is trending downward, for the first time in a long time.

After reaching a high of 4.8 divorces for every 1,000 people in the early 1990s, the Centers for Disease Control reported in 2017 that the average divorce rate dropped to 2.9 divorces per 1,000 Americans.

Prepare to Break Out Your Wallet

Now the bad news: the average cost of a divorce is not going down.

According to a recent survey by Bankrate, the average cost of a divorce in the U.S. is around $15,000 per person.

However, that figure can go up dramatically depending on the complexity of the divorce (if you have children and property together), how long the divorce takes, the attorney you hire, and how much you and your spouse are willing to fight to get what you want.

A contentious divorce that drags out for years could easily cost more than $100,000.

In 2018, 24/7 Wall St. used data from various divorce studies in an attempt to break down the average cost of a divorce by state. All other factors being equal, the price of a divorce in their research ranged from $8,400 - $17,500.

The Most Expensive States in Which to Get a Divorce

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Delaware
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Texas

Divorce fees include much more than just attorney fees

What am I paying for in a divorce?

Divorce fees include much more than just attorney fees – although, at an average of $250 an hour, attorney fees can take a big bite out of your wallet.

Divorce fees also include things like court filing costs, mediation fees, parent education classes, guardian ad litem fees, counseling sessions, psychiatric evaluations, and home refinancing or home sale fees.

And don’t forget, there are fees you may end up paying after the divorce that are not included in these averages, such as alimony and child custody or the cost of purchasing another home.

How to Keep the Costs Down

If you want to keep the costs of your divorce down, you can choose to represent yourself, although that can sometimes be more costly. If you don’t fully understand what you agree to in a divorce or if your spouse is hiding something critical from you, like unpaid taxes or another major debt, hiring an attorney might be the better financial option. 

Other Ways to Keep Your Divorce Costs Down
  • Work quickly and easily with your former spouse to minimize attorney fees and court costs
  • Consider hiring a mediator to help you work through child custody issues rather than an attorney
  • Draw up a prenuptial agreement before getting married in the first place

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