Money·2 min read

Here’s Why a Divorce Costs So Much

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Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
Jun 23, 2022

The truth is, divorce is challenging. Emotionally and financially. Costs can go through the roof if you and your (for now) spouse have a hard time finding common ground on major issues. Think: Who gets the house? Who’s responsible for debt? Will alimony be paid? How will assets be split?But no matter how complicated things get, a divorce doesn’t have to drain your bank account.

How much does a divorce cost?

On average, experts say the process of getting divorced can cost up to $15,000. Depending on factors like your location, if real estate is involved, and if you have kids together.

Which part of divorce costs the most?

Definitely those divorce attorney fees. Nolo says they average $270 per hour, which can add up quickly. And things can get even pricier if one of you contests the divorce. Because that means you’ll have to go to trial. In that case? The grand total is usually around $20,400. Whoa.

Can I skip the divorce attorney?

You don't have to hire your own divorce attorney, especially if you and your soon-to-be ex can agree on everything.You can opt for mediation, aka a session with one attorney who can help you decide what works best for both of you. Usually, divorcing couples split mediation costs. According to Nolo, mediation usually costs between $3,000 and $8,000.

Got it. What other divorce costs should I know about?

Attorney fees may be the biggest total, but that isn’t the only expense you’ll have. 

Filing fees

The grand total depends on your state, but you should budget for a few hundred dollars to cover filing fees.

Living expenses

It’s normal for your personal finances to take a hit during and after a divorce. Because you’ll have to take on expenses that were once split with your partner.Psst…here’s how to get your finances together before and after getting separated.

Ongoing expenses

Some costs can go on even after the divorce is finalized. Read: child support and alimony. You should also make sure you continue to get your fair share of any (future) retirement or investment income and Social Security benefits. It might be worth sitting down with a certified divorce financial analyst to figure out the details of your case.


Divorce is tough on your heart and your wallet. Especially when it comes to attorney fees. But good communication can help you save. 

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