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Divorce dollars: The costliest area of the US to end a marriage

In California the financial aspects of divorce can be quite substantial. Couples filing for divorce in the state face a filing fee of $435.

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People shop at a mall in Santa Anita, California on December 20, 2021 - Copyright AFP/File Frederic J. BROWN
People shop at a mall in Santa Anita, California on December 20, 2021 - Copyright AFP/File Frederic J. BROWN

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, FormRush has taken into account a weighted combination of factors to determine the most and least expensive states in the U.S. for divorce in 2024. These factors include lawyer fees (30 percent), the cost of living (20 percent), the estimated cost of divorce as a percentage of the household median income (40 percent) and filing fees (10 percent). This comprehensive approach sheds light on the varying costs associated with divorce proceedings across different states.

The average cost of divorce in the United States is $7,567, equivalent to approximately 7 percent 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; 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 data shows that about 12 percent of the U.S. population resides in states where divorce is less expensive, while roughly 33 percent live in states with higher divorce costs. North Dakota has the lowest divorce rate at 0.80 percent, while Arkansas has the highest at 1.63 percent. 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.

The top 10 states where getting a divorce tends to be the most expensive:

Rank:State:Filing Fee:Average Lawyer Wage:Median Divorce Cost:Divorce Cost as Percent of Median Married Household Income:
1California$435$84.46$10,159.008.03%
2New York$335$83.12$9,206.367.59%
3Oregon$301$63.79$8,450.087.81%
4Massachusetts$200$77.66$10,406.257.15%
5Alaska$250$52.83$9,111.837.86%
6Hawaii$265$47.73$13,198.7010.77%
7Arizona$280$58.18$7,788.327.55%
8Nevada$299$62.89$7,395.637.35%
9Washington$314$63.09$8,399.176.76%
10Florida$409$50.17$7,410.187.53%

From the above table, in California the financial aspects of divorce can be quite substantial. Couples filing for divorce in the state face a filing fee of $435. Legal representation can be costly as lawyers in California earn an average wage of $84.46 per hour. The median divorce cost in California is notably high at $10,159, representing approximately 8.03 percent of the median married household income. These figures underscore the significant financial considerations and costs associated with divorce proceedings in California.

This is followed by New York where the financial implications of divorce can also be substantial. The state has a median divorce cost of $9,206.36, representing approximately 7.59 percent of the median married household income. In their spot is Oregon, where the financial aspects of divorce are also noteworthy. The state has a median divorce cost of $8,450.08, representing approximately 7.81 percent of the median married household income.

In contrast, the least expensive states are:

Rank:State:Filing Fee:Average Lawyer Wage:Median Divorce Cost:Divorce Cost as Percent of Median Married Household Income:
1Kansas$402$46.45$6,341.196.21%
2Nebraska$162$49.45$6,639.356.24%
3Iowa$265$49.58$6,537.546.30%
4Wyoming$85$39.69$6,697.526.78%
5South Dakota$95$41.34$6,792.066.68%
6North Dakota$80$48.51$6,981.136.44%
7Ohio$250$51.62$6,646.626.43%
8Oklahoma$183$48.07$6,319.386.98%
9Mississippi$400$38.72$6,253.937.29%
10Georgia$402$60.88$6,493.906.13%

The lower cost states demonstrate the wide range of legal costs across the U.S.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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