Alongside the expected high lawyer fees, the often-overlooked expense of simply filing for divorce adds to the financial strain. 
 -  Photo: Pexels.com / Karolina Grabowska

Alongside the expected high lawyer fees, the often-overlooked expense of simply filing for divorce adds to the financial strain.

Photo: Pexels.com / Karolina Grabowska

Divorce is a challenging and emotionally taxing experience for all parties involved. Beyond the emotional toll, the financial burden of a divorce can be particularly daunting. Alongside the expected high lawyer fees, the often-overlooked expense of simply filing for divorce adds to the financial strain.

In a new analysis by legal document provider FormRush, a combination of factors was taken into account to determine the most and least expensive states for divorce in 2024. These factors include lawyer fees (30%), the cost of living (20%), the estimated cost of divorce as a percentage of the household median income (40%), and filing fees (10%). This comprehensive approach sheds light on the varying costs associated with divorce proceedings across different states.

According to FormRush's research, the average cost of divorce in the U.S. is $7,567, equivalent to approximately 7% of an individual's annual average income. While Kansas has the lowest median divorce cost at $6,341.19, making it the most affordable state to get a divorce. However, California is the most expensive state for divorce due to its high cost of living index, with significantly higher lawyer wages and filing fees compared to other states.

The study shows that about 12% of the U.S. population resides in states where divorce is less expensive, while roughly 33% live in states with higher divorce costs. North Dakota has the lowest divorce rate at 0.8%, while Arkansas has the highest at 1.63%. California has the highest filing fees at $435, followed by Florida at $409, and several states at $402. It's essential for those going through a divorce to be aware that fees can vary by location and may consider factors like child support and custody.

Top 10 states most expensive states for getting a divorce

Rank State Filing Fee Average Lawyer Wage Median Divorce Cost Divorce Cost as Percent of Median Married Household Income
1 California $435 $84.46 $10,159.00 8.03%
2 New York $335 $83.12 $9,206.36 7.59%
3 Oregon $301 $63.97 $8,450.08 7.81%
4 Massachusetts $200 $77.66 $10,406.25 7.15.%
5 Alaska $250 $52.83 $9,111.83 7.86%
6 Hawaii $265 $47.73 $13,198.70 10.77%
7 Arizona $280 $58.18 $7,788.32 7.55%
8 Nevada $299 $62.89 $7,395.63 7.35%
9 Washington $314 $63.09 $8,39.17 6.76%
10 Florida $409 $50.17 $7,410.18 7.53%

 

Breakdown of the metrics and their respective weights

  • State Filing Fee (10%): This metric accounts for the filing fee associated with divorce in each state, sourced from the respective state's court website.
  • Average Lawyer's Salary (30%): The average cost of hiring an attorney for divorce proceedings was determined using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Cost of Living (20%): Data from the Missouri Center for Economic Research and Information was utilized to consider the variations in the cost of living across different regions, a critical factor for divorced couples transitioning to new housing and adjusting their financial responsibilities.
  • Estimated Cost of Divorce as a Percentage of Average Income of Married Families (40%): This metric was calculated by comparing the average cost of divorce to the median household income in each state, drawing on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By assigning these weights to the respective metrics, the analysis aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the financial implications of divorce across different states.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Originally posted on Modern Salon

Read more about