This Is How Much a Divorce Really Costs

Ending a marriage is never easy... or cheap.

One of the only life events as expensive as a wedding might just be a divorce. A recent study from legal publisher Nolo found that the average divorce costs $15,500, which is mostly due to legal fees. Some people surveyed, however, spent a whopping $100,000 to dissolve their marriage—while others spent as little as $1,000.

Why the wide-ranging cost of divorce? One of the biggest factors is the length of the legal battle, which the separating parties are ultimately in control of.

"What most divorcing couples tend to overlook is their own impact on how much their divorce will cost," says Hossein Berenji, a seasoned divorce lawyer and owner of Berenji & Associates in Los Angeles. "The longer the divorce process takes, the more costly it will be for the spouses."

When couples can't agree on the terms of their separation—something that many states, like California, legally require before a divorce can be finalized—the negotiations are forced to continue until they do. "They'll rack up costs from attorneys, mediators, experts, and dispute management professionals," explains Berenji.

Couple Getting a Divorce {How Much Does a Divorce Cost}

When there are children (particularly minors) involved, a divorce can also get much more expensive. According to Larry J. McCord, founder and managing partner of Larry J. McCord and Associates LLC in New York, the average divorce with children costs an estimated $8,900 more, due to the issue of custody.

"The court may appoint a law guardian who actually represents the children—and this is a factor that could greatly increase the cost," McCord explains. "Cases where custody is in dispute can become quite expensive."

Lastly, where you live and where you're filing for divorce also has an impact on how much you'll be spending to separate. According to McCord, the five most expensive states when it comes to divorce—due to attorney and filing fees—are California, Connecticut, Florida, Texas, and New Jersey. The five least expensive are North Dakota, Mississippi, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Kentucky. (As bleak as it may sound, that's something to think about before you settle down and buy your first home together as a newly-married couple.)

Though it's difficult to predict how much a divorce costs, it is possible to figure out approximate expenses when considering these main factors. And if you're worried that your marriage is heading in the wrong direction, then read up on these 15 Surprising Things That Increase Your Risk of Divorce.

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