“Divorce is one of the most financially traumatic things you can go through. Money spent on getting mad or getting even is money wasted.”Richard Wagner
If the marriage is not working and spouses are contemplating the possibility of separation, one of the most crucial questions they would ask is how much does a divorce cost. Of course, the undertaking is not free, and in some cases, the expenses may be enormous.
In the first place, due to the varying laws and standards, fees vary across the states and even across the counties. Thus, it would be necessary to get detailed information on the issue in a particular location. Secondly, the cost of divorce greatly depends on a number of other factors specific to a particular situation.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost in PA? In Pennsylvania, the cost of a divorce may range from some $300 up to tens of thousands of dollars. Everything depends on an individual situation and the complexity of the case. In addition to mandatory filing fees, you need to consider contested issues involved, possible witnesses, mediation, evaluation, or counseling fees, and attorneys’ hourly fees. Generally, the more disputes you have with your spouse, the more you will spend on fees for various experts and specialists as well as for the attorneys’ time in every settlement of each separate dispute.
Since so many factors can increase or decrease the overall sum you will need to pay, the exact cost of divorce in PA can only be calculated approximately. Here are the average rates for your consideration:
- Filing fee: $200-$400
- Initial consultation with an attorney: $200-$300
- Divorce attorney’s fees: $250-$500/hour
- Initial retainer fee to start the case (per spouse): $3,500-$5,000
- Custody evaluations and trial (if necessary): $10,000-$20,000
- Real estate appraiser fees (if necessary): ~ $400/hour
- Discovery proceedings (if necessary): $3,000-$4,000
- Forensic accountant (if necessary): up to $20,000
- Family therapy, co-parenting counseling fees (if necessary): $150/hour
- Individual psychotherapy and medical bills for treating disorders resulting from stress: depend on the severity of the disorders and health insurance
- Time off work for court hearings is not paid for
Of course, not all of these should be added to your overall expenses. And the total sum you will pay the attorney will mostly depend on how much time they spend with you in all the hearings. On average, the overall cost of divorce in PA can range between $30,000 and $50,000, reaching some $75,000-$100,000 in high-conflict situations. This statistical chart shows the average divorce rates in the United States by category:
Divorce can be contested or uncontested. The former means that the spouses cannot agree amicably on one or several disputes concerning children, property, and other issues that would require court hearings and hiring attorneys. As a result, you would need to include several points from the list provided above in your divorce bill. In an uncontested divorce, the parties reach all the marital agreements on their own, eliminating the necessity of judicial determination, which translates to much lower expenses for both spouses.
Uncontested Divorce in PA?
An uncontested divorce is the cheapest option. In Pennsylvania, it will generally range from about $400 to approximately $6,000 if you decide to use the specialist’s assistance just in case.
- A DIY divorce will only involve filing fees. The average total cost is $400 including court costs.
- If you choose to file for divorce in PA online and still do all the paperwork on your own, you’ll need to add some $139 for the online service.
- An uncontested divorce with a lawyer to help in the process will involve an attorney’s hourly fees. The total cost may range from $4,000 to $6,000 on average.
Specialists advise hiring an experienced and skilled family lawyer to avoid any possible mistakes with paperwork, which can cause unexpected additional costs, making it even more expensive. It is up to you to decide if you want someone’s help or not. But in any case, an uncontested divorce in PA is still the cheapest option.
Contested Divorce in PA?
A contested divorce is the hardest way for the couple since the process may linger on for years, draining your nervous system and your pocket. But again, everything will depend on the severity of your case, the issues involved, the attorney you choose, and even the relations between you and your spouse. We have already provided approximate fees for trials and various experts to guide you on how much does a divorce cost in Pennsylvania. Considering your personal situation, you can make some rough calculations. Let’s see what a contested divorce involves and what it may cost you.
Disputes over children
If you have children, the disputed issues would involve child custody, child support, and parenting time. Each dispute may require a separate hearing and consequently, additional fees for your attorneys. In addition, you may need to engage other experts, adding to your expenses.
Child custody evaluators inspect the situation in the family, talk to children, discover possible cases of parental misconduct, study factors that can influence the decision, and make relevant court testimony on who should take primary custody.
Guardian Ad Litem is a neutral specialist appointed by the judge to protect the children’s interests and suggest to the court parental rights and responsibilities. Other expert witnesses may be needed to make suggestions on healthcare and education decisions.
Disputes over the property
The more mutual property and debts you have, the more complex your divorce may be. Again, each dispute over marital real estate, mutual business, personal property, investments, retirement accounts, and debts may require a separate hearing, increasing the attorney’s fee. In addition to that, real estate appraisers, forensic accountants, and/or financial analysts may be involved to make fair decisions and satisfy both parties.
Real estate appraisers evaluate and define the real market value of your marital dwelling(s) while a forensic accountant ensures that no suspicious or fraudulent activities are involved after reviewing the financial documents of both spouses. The fees of these specialists depend on their expertise and reputation and do not take into account the number or value of your assets that need their evaluation. Keep in mind that such disputes may also require discovery proceedings, which tend to be very expensive.
Additional dispute resolution and the additional expenses on the attorneys concern spousal support and alimony. In this case, the involvement of financial analysts may also be needed to estimate the contribution of each spouse towards marriage, the spouse’s eligibility, for it, and the reasonableness of the amount claimed.
Unless you choose to represent yourself (which is highly unadvisable), you will need to pay an experienced divorce lawyer to defend your interests in court. Since they charge hourly fees, your expenses will depend on the amount of time they spend with you on all the hearings concerning all the involved disputes. Besides, the attorney’s fee depends on their expertise and can range from $250 to $500 per hour for a highly professional expert. It should be noted that lawyers in big cities or counties normally cost more.
Ways to Make It Cheaper
All things considered, we agree that the prospects are not very bright and you probably already try to answer the question of how to finance a divorce. While we cannot prompt you on the financial sources, there are a few recommendations on how to make this process cheaper.
Unfortunately, while this is definitely the best option, it is unrealistic in most cases with many spouses being unreasonably uncooperative and unable to settle all the disputes on their own, even considering the expenses they will incur.
If you choose to represent yourself in court, you will still need to pay all the court costs but save tens of hundreds of dollars on attorney’s fees. Although the idea may be attractive and tempting, it may entail even more losses as a result of lost disputes in regard to property division or alimony. An expensive attorney is at least experienced enough to secure profitable conditions for you in disputes.
On the other hand, you may use the attorney’s services only in the most complicated and important disputes. It will be cheaper than the full-scope representation and still help you to win at least something.
If the dispute resolutions are still unavoidable but the case is not very conflicting and both spouses are reasonable and cooperative, mediation can be a good option to reduce the total cost of divorce in PA. Mediators – neutral experts appointed by the court – do not make any decisions but guide both parties in the right direction during negotiations, which is a considerable help in resolving your disputes. At the same time, their services are much cheaper than the attorney’s hourly fees.
Divorce in Pennsylvania
No one is safe from an unhappy marriage. And every time the couple decides to divorce, in addition to the burden of marital settlements, they also need the answer to the question of how much does a divorce cost. Overall expenses generally depend on the state, county, and even the city you live in. However, the main determinant is your individual case and all the accompanying factors.
Divorce in the state of Pennsylvania may cost from around $500 under the most favorable conditions to some $100,000 considering all the issues, conflicts, and disputes it involves. So, before settling for the undertaking, research your location and get to know how much it may cost you to secure a safe and happy future for yourself and your children.