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Dollar Signs and Divorce: Location, Location, Location

By: Dana Horlick, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group

It’s that time of the year again, divorce season. The beginning of the year is the most popular time to file for divorce nationwide, not just here in Greensboro. Maybe it’s the end of the holiday season, the cold weather, being stuck in the house, or the kids being home for winter break. Whatever the reason, couples tend to file for divorce around this time of the year. In the process leading up to deciding to file for divorce, numerous factors are taken into consideration. One important factor likely taken into consideration is the cost of a divorce. Like anything else, divorce costs money and can be quite expensive. Divorce in the United States averages between $15,000 and $20,000. That is a hefty price tag to take on when ending a marriage.

The price tag associated with a divorce can depend on many factors. Are there children born of the two parties? Do the parties agree on custody and child support? Were the parties married for a significant amount of time? Was a large amount of assets accumulated during the marriage? Was there a prenuptial agreement? Is there a large age difference between the two parties? What is the relative age, health, and capacity to work of the parties? Is the decision to divorce mutual, or is one party trying to hold on to the marriage?

All of the above factors seem obvious. Of course, they will impact how costly the process of divorce can be. One factor that you may not have considered is the state in which the parties live. The cost of divorce varies from state to state and is affected by the requirements for a divorce in that particular state, the fees associated with each step of the process, and average hourly rate for attorneys, among other things.

You might have guess that the most expensive state to obtain a divorce is California, given the cost of living in many of the cities in California. The cost in California comes from having the highest filing fee nationwide and one of the highest average hourly rates for attorneys. The divorce process in California also takes a minimum of six months, which can also drive up costs. The longer it takes to get the divorce finalized, the more fees, especially attorney fees, that come along with it.

North Carolina, in comparison, is the 12th most inexpensive state to get a divorce. North Carolina has the second-lowest nation-wide filing fee for divorce and lower than average attorney fees. In North Carolina, for a couple to get a divorce, they must remain separated for at least one year, with at least one of the parties intending to remain separate and apart. The one-year requirement likely plays a major role in keeping North Carolina from being even lower on the list regarding cost.

If you are thinking about filing for divorce in this divorce season, it is important to keep in mind all of the factors that will affect the cost of the divorce process. You should also realize that your behavior is one of those factors. Keeping things amicable and remaining on good terms with your estranged spouse can help keep the costs down when it comes time to file for divorce.