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What Does It Cost To File A Divorce And What Are The Different Average Costs Involved?



A divorce does not come cheaply. It may seem like adding insult to injury to heap legal fees and costs upon a party struggling with weighty emotional baggage of a failed marriage, but there is no escaping this reality: Divorce is expensive.

Types Of Divorce And Costs

To assess the costs associated with obtaining a divorce, it is necessary to explore the types of divorce, as well as the fees, costs and expenses of each type. The following listing presents a summary of the types of divorce and related costs:

  • Divorce that is litigated - This is the most expensive divorce type. Divorce trials can span one to several days, all the while compounding court costs, attorneys' fees and expenses. Trial can cost more than $25,000. An adversarial divorce that must work through the legal system is costly because the parties lawyer up, and they don't concede any legal ground in compromise. The parties dig their heels into their positions and doggedly argue about principle while dollars mound. If the divorce involves custody and child support proceedings, each side can expect to pay at least $12,000, to well over $25,000. Often, retainers of $7,500 or more are required upfront just to start a case with counsel.
  • Divorce that is mediated - The average cost of a mediated divorce is approximately $5,000. This represents less than one-quarter of the costs associated with the typical divorce, so this type is gaining in popularity. No one wins in a divorce situation, but mediation allows the parties to retain more control over the outcome. If the parties desire to split amicably or at least to leave the marriage relationship with the view that final settlement was reasonable and fair to both spouses, this type of divorce is appealing. If minor children are involved, mediated divorce is a prudent way to set an amicable tone in negotiations and decision-making for the sake of preserving family harmony.
  • Uncontested divorce - This is sometimes called a no-fault or simple divorce. It is often the cheapest and quickest form of divorce. This divorce is not disputed by either spouse, as they agree to the marriage dissolution. They also agree that there is no need to attribute blame for the marriage's failure to either party. Parties need to be cautious in this fast-track divorce not to overlook key support issues or waive their rights unknowingly, due to the consensual nature of this divorce.
  • Do-it-yourself divorce - This divorce is done without counsel. The parties use books, forms, software or Internet tools to prepare their own forms, which they file with the court themselves. Costs are cheap, at about $500 maximum, because the parties avoid legal fees. However, the parties may waive important legal rights and remedies unknowingly and contribute to overall greater future costs, expenses and losses, as a result.
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