According to Nolo’s research, the average cost of divorce in Pennsylvania state is approximately $14,300. The cost of divorce can range from $8,400 to over $20,000, reaching up to $21,500 if there are children or property involved. The average filing fees in Pennsylvania are $350.
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What Does the Average Cost Depend on?
The average cost of divorce in PA mainly depends on whether spouses can resolve their differences when it comes to decisions related to their children and assets:
- They cannot.
In this case, their divorce will be contested, and both spouses will have to hire lawyers and, potentially, experts who will help with asset division and custody determination. The longer the litigation lasts, the more expenses each party will incur.
- They can.
The couple will not need to hire a lawyer or any other professional and may file for marriage dissolution independently. The average cost of an uncontested divorce in PA is $500, depending on court fees in the county where the case is initiated.
How Much Does a No-Fault Divorce Cost in Pennsylvania?
The cost of no-fault divorce in PA will be around $12,000 if the case is contested, $4,000 with a lawyer in an uncontested case, or under $500 if spouses prepare their paperwork themselves or get it online.
A no-fault divorce means that spouses do not accuse each other of any misconduct, such as adultery, desertion, cruel treatment, or other, and just want their divorce to be finalized based on irretrievable breakdown.
If they have no disputes to settle, divorcees may work on their divorce forms without an attorney and significantly cut costs. By getting help with them online, spouses may also receive filing instructions and file their paperwork quickly and easily.
How Much Does a Mutual Consent Divorce Cost in Pennsylvania?
Divorce by mutual consent will cost spouses around $300-400 in court fees and either $3,000-$6,000 in lawyer’s fees or $139 with an online service.
To file for this type of marriage dissolution, spouses have to:
- State that they are willing to end their marriage and sign the respective papers.
- Create a Settlement Agreement and write down their divorce-related decisions.
Spouses will not necessarily require legal representatives as with all the disputes settled, there will be no further arguments, and a judge will likely accept couple’s agreement if it is in best interests of all the parties involved.
Contested Divorce in Pennsylvania: Costs
What makes a divorce so expensive? The answer is simple – disputes. The more you have – the more you are going to spend, and you may expect to pay anywhere from $13,000 to $30,000 or more.
If you and your spouse cannot come up with a Settlement Agreement that satisfies you both, you’ll have to rely on a judge to make a call and on your lawyer to support your stance.
Here are the main factors that increase divorce expenses:
- Child Custody Battles.
Fighting over full custody in PA is an extremely costly venture. Apart from hiring a lawyer to help you win the case, you will also need to involve other professionals such as child custody evaluators.
On average, custody evaluators charge from $5,000 to $10,000 in big cities. They inspect the family situation, review factors that can influence custody decisions, talk to the child, and then make a court testimony based on their findings.
- Property and Debts.
If you and your spouse have acquired any assets, debts, or property during your marriage, you may have a hard time dividing it. To make a fair division that will satisfy both parties, you may need to hire experts, such as accountants or real estate appraisers.
The amounts such professionals charge vary significantly depending on their expertise and will cost you thousands regardless of the number of assets you need to appraise or look into.
None of the spouses is automatically entitled to receive payments from the other one and thus needs to formally request alimony or spousal support and explain why they need it.
The length of a marriage and the contribution of each spouse towards it will be just some of the factors that a judge would consider when deciding whether to award the alimony.A lawyer will have to prove that a spouse asking for it is eligible to do so and determine an appropriate amount that a court is likely to approve.
How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost in Pennsylvania?
On average, divorce lawyers charge $250-350 an hour. The more disputes are left unresolved between you and your spouse, the longer you will require legal services, which means that you may end up with a hefty check.
Here are some factors that influence the cost of a divorce lawyer:
- Professionalism level. An experienced attorney with lots of successful cases can charge around $500 hourly and request a huge retainer.
- Location. Hourly rates can be significantly higher in big cities or counties.
- Complexity of the case. The more trials you attend, the more money you will spend on an attorney’s fee.
- Children, assets, and debts. If you and your spouse have minor children, own property, or owe someone money, this will increase the amount of paperwork and unresolved issues, and thus, prolong your divorce and raise its price.
If you want to get a cheap divorce in PA, it is best to file for an uncontested one. In this case, it won’t be necessary to hire a lawyer, and thus, spend thousands for them to help you.
In case there is no way you can reach an agreement on everything and cannot settle even with a mediator involved, try resolving as many disputes as possible outside of court. This will make your case simpler and consequently less expensive.
Filing Fee for Divorce in Pennsylvania
The average cost to file for divorce in Pennsylvania is $300-400. No matter if you are going to hire a lawyer or not, you will have to cover this filing fee. The amount you have to pay will depend on the county where you plan to file in.
The price of a mutual consent divorce in the state is about $400 if you are dealing with it yourself, $139 more if you get help online, and about $5,000 if you hire a lawyer to help you. If your case is contested, you may expect to spend about $10,000-$15,000 in legal fees.
To make the case uncontested, spouses should draft a comprehensive Settlement Agreement in which they outline:
- How they divided their assets;
- Who is going to pay outstanding debts;
- What type of custody each parent will have;
- Who will pay child support (as well as how much and how often);
- Whether alimony will be paid.
Irrespective of whether you file pro se or hire a lawyer, you will have to pay court fees in PA. For example, filing costs in the three biggest PA counties are the following:
- Philadelphia county – $333.73;
- Allegheny County – $200;
- Montgomery County – $284.75.
The cost to file for divorce in PA depends on the county you reside in and the types of services you might require a court to provide. You can review the list of filing fees for divorce in Pennsylvania on the website of your county court.
Please note that you might be able to waive the filing fee if you cannot pay it due to your financial situation. It is necessary to ask the court clerk if this option is available. Please note that there might still be additional costs involved, such as those for serving your spouse and making copies of the paperwork.
Cost of Filing for Divorce with a Lawyer
On average, attorneys in the state charge from $230-$280 per hour. The cost depends on several factors:
- Service in the big cities or counties is obviously more expensive than in the small ones.
- Attorney’s experience. An experienced lawyer with lots of successful cases may charge up to $500 hourly. On the contrary, inexperienced ones may offer their services for $150-$200.
- Disputes in the case. The number of issues to resolve in the court influences the price considerably. Complex contested cases may cost from $35,000 to $100,000 as they often span years.
Factors That Influence the Cost of Filing for Divorce
Sometimes, a bad compromise is better than a good lawsuit. However, there are cases when spouses are unable to reach a consensus and have to go to court. In this case, the overall divorce costs will depend on many different factors outlined below.
- Whether You Represent Yourself. According to the state laws, you have a right to represent yourself in the family court. However, going to the court pro se puts a lot of responsibility on you.
- Whether or Not You Have Children. For couples who have children, divorce may turn into a bigger financial burden. Apart from covering basic child’s needs, spouses will have to face expenses related to child custody battles.
- Expert Services. Depending on your case, you may need to involve financial and other experts like real estate appraiser, child custody evaluator, forensic accountants, etc.
- The Number of Marital Assets. The more assets you have with your spouse, the more problems may arise when you decide to divorce. If you have acquired real estate, retirement accounts, personal property, and investments during your marriage and cannot agree on how to divide them, you may need to hire a lot of financial experts.