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Divorce Filing Fees

Besides the obvious emotional factors, money is a primary concern when it comes to ending your marriage. When it comes to attorneys' fees, they usually vary by locale, the complexity of the case, and sometimes even the attorney's skill level. Whether you have hired an attorney to represent you or have completed your own divorce papers on a website like DivorceWriter.com, you will need to pay a filing fee charged by the Court Clerk's office when you file for divorce.

StateFiling Fee
Alabama$150 - $300
Arizona$225 - $350
Arkansas$130 - $170
Delaware$150 - $160
District of Columbia$80
Florida$350 - $450
Georgia$150 - $250
Illinois$210 - $337
Indiana$130 - $160
Kansas$156 - $166
Kentucky$120 - $180
Louisiana$200 - $450
Massachusetts$200 - $300
Michigan$150 - $230
Minnesota$390 - $420
Mississippi$50 - $75
Missouri$140 - $200
Montana$225 - $250
Nevada$150 - $300
New Hampshire$205
New Jersey$300
New Mexico$135 - $155
New York$210
North Carolina$225 - $235
North Dakota$80
Ohio$175 - $350
Oklahoma$175 - $250
Oregon$250 - $400
Pennsylvania$150 - $350
Rhode Island$100
South Carolina$150
South Dakota$95
Tennessee$150 - $300
Texas$250 - $350
Utah$310 - $330
Vermont$78.50 - $262
Virginia$100 - $200
West Virginia$135 - $185
Wisconsin$180 - $220
2014 U.S. Divorce Filing Fees Map

While divorce filing fees vary from state to state and often from county to county, nationwide they typically range from $100-$350. Leading the pack with the highest divorce filing fees in the country are Florida and Minnesota, hovering at $400 or more. Likewise, California has a statewide filing fee of $435, which was actually reduced from $450 in 2014. On the cheaper side, Mississippi, North and South Dakota and Wyoming have divorce filing fees commonly falling under $100.

Why do the fees differ so much?

Filing fees are set by state legislatures and county commissioners, and they are subject to change without notice. Depending on your state and county, you may be able to find a detailed breakdown of how your filing fee is spent.  As you'd expect, in states where divorce filing fees vary from county to county, generally, the most populous counties charge the most. That being said, across a given state, the fees charged rarely vary by more than $100.

Many states also charge a higher filing fee (usually $10 to $50) for divorces involving minor children. This is because there's more paperwork and the Court anticipates spending additional time in reviewing documents to ensure that child support, custody and parenting time arrangements are in the best interests of the children, even in uncontested cases where the parents agree on these matters.

Can I just file in the cheapest state?

Generally, forum shopping, which is the process of filing a case in a state with more favorable laws, lower fees, etc., isn't effective in divorce because you must meet the state's minimum residency requirements to file for divorce there. However, if you and your spouse live in different states and both of you meet the residency requirements where you live, you may generally file in either state. For example, if you reside in California and want to divorce your spouse who lives in Mississippi, you may want to consider divorcing in Mississippi, where the filing fee could easily be $300 less than in California.

If you and your spouse live in the same state, but different counties, and the filing fee is considerably less in the county where your spouse resides, you may consider filing there instead of your home county. While filing fees tend to vary less than $100 among counties in a state, the idea of saving $100 may be enough incentive to travel to your spouse's home county to file your divorce. Moreover, in a few states, the difference between counties can be even more significant.

Be careful when filing—don't pay more than you have to!

In some states, the non-filing spouse should file a document in response to the divorce called an Answer, even when spouses agree on all issues, in order to speed up the divorce process. However, in many other states, an Answer should not be filed in an uncontested divorce since filing one will trigger a response fee. In such states, the response fee is usually almost as much as the filing fee that you paid to start the divorce. In California, for example, although you must give your spouse a Response form as a formality, it doesn't need to be filed if in an uncontested case. In fact, if your spouse does file the Response, he or she will be forced to pay a $435 response fee, which is in addition to the $435 fee charged when the divorce was filed.

There are other ways to keep divorce filing fees to a minimum. Filing a joint petition or having your spouse sign a document accepting service are two methods commonly available to avoid the need to pay for formal service of divorce papers by a Sheriff or professional process server. Additionally, in some states, the filing fee goes up if the divorce is contested so reaching an agreement can save big bucks. In Vermont, for example, the filing fee is $78.50 when both parties sign a Final Stipulation outlining the terms of their final divorce agreement. When no Final Stipulation is filed, however, the filing fee is $262.

Can I get the court to waive the filing fee?

Every state gives the option of applying for a fee waiver. Generally, this involves filing a motion asking the judge assigned to your case to allow you to file for divorce without paying the filing fee due to economic hardship. A sworn affidavit stating that you are unable to pay the filing fee and explaining your income and expenses must also be filed with the motion. Some judges may require a hearing before ruling on the motion to waive filing fees, but many will deny or grant the request based solely on the information in the motion and affidavit. In many states, qualifying for a fee waiver is difficult because it requires the filer to have an income that falls well below the federal poverty level.

Most people will file for divorce in the county where either they or their spouses reside. Short of being granted a fee waiver, there isn't anything that can be done to avoid paying a filing fee if you want to get divorced. However, there are a number of ways to minimize paying additional fees to the Court. Avoiding response fees by not having your spouse file an unnecessary Answer, having your spouse sign a document waiving formal service of divorce papers by a process server, and agreeing on all issues before filing for divorce to avoid the increased fee sometimes charged for contested divorces are all ways to keep the final cost of your divorce to a minimum. Divorce papers prepared on DivorceWriter come with detailed filing instructions and all of the documents needed to complete your divorce as inexpensively as possible.

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