This year's annual report from 24/7 Wall St. on the cost of getting divorced in each state found something likely not surprising to Californians: We ranked Number 1. After all, we have the third highest cost of living in the country. The states with the highest overall cost of living typically have more expensive divorces -- although not in every case.
It may be surprising to learn that, according to the study, California has the fifth lowest rate of divorced people in the country. In fact, the states where divorce is the most expensive generally have among the lowest divorce rates. The extent to which the two factors are linked can't be known for certain.
In California, the average cost of divorce for people without children is $17,500. With children, that figure jumps to $26,300. In case you're curious, Montana came in 50th, with the average cost of divorce without children at $8,400 and with children $12,600. The data used in the study came from a variety of sources, including the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Of course, the price of divorce varies considerably from one couple to the next. The more contentious the divorce, the more it's going to cost because contentious divorces more often involve going to court to have judges make decisions. That drives up the cost of legal fees and other expenses.
Despite the high cost of living here in Southern California, divorce doesn't have to send you into a financial tailspin. If you and your spouse can work with your attorneys to agree on matters like property division, alimony and child custody and support, you can keep those costs down.
Even divorcing parents can minimize their legal fees by developing a parenting plan they feel comfortable with and stick to. This can prevent later trips back to court.
It's essential to find an attorney who understands your desire to divorce amicably and can work to resolve matters with your spouse with a minimum of conflict and drama.