Contested Divorce Cost

How Much Does a Contested Divorce Cost?

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On average, a contested divorce costs about $15,000 with prices ranging from $2,500 to $30,000 or more in the US for 2019 according to multiple sources.

Average Cost of a Contested Divorce

According to a 2019 article on, “divorce proceedings can range from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars, with the average cost of a contested divorce ranging from $15,000 to $30,000. Most of this money is spent on legal fees”.

The average divorce cost varies substantially depending on what kind of divorce it is, how combative the divorce is and, whether or not you use alternatives like mediation or collaborative divorce.

The average cost of a divorce in the US is about $15,000 per person, which includes attorney’s fees, court costs, and the cost of hiring outside professionals like tax advisors, real estate appraisers, or child custody specialists.

What is a Contested Divorce?

A contested divorce is one where the parties can’t agree on their child custody, division of property and assets, etc. Every so often, one of the spouses doesn’t want to get divorced at all, and legal intervention is required to facilitate the divorce. The costs are high because it takes the attorney or law firm longer to assist clients to make legal decisions, file the necessary documents and represent them in court if it comes down to it.

In contested divorces, spouses might have a lot of issues that need to be brought forth in front of a judge — and that can get pricey.

Contested Divorce Attorney Fees

Family law attorneys will usually bill around $150-$250 per hour on average, or more, depending on their location. Some will charge as much as $650 an hour to assist people through significantly difficult divorces, like couples who are business owners or have other substantial, complex assets.

According to Thumbtack, “On average, couples whose divorce cases go to trial spend close to $20,000, on average, to complete their divorces, with at least $15,000 of that amount going to just attorney’s fees. Couples who settle their cases outside of court, however, pay closer to $15,000, bringing their attorney’s fees closer to an average of $12,000”.

Child Custody Assessment

In contested divorces, when spouses can’t agree on the custody schedule even after going through mediation, the court might want a child custody assessment, which is done by a trained and experienced child psychologist who will spend a lot of time interviewing each parent, speaking with the children and observing the children at their home with each parent. If the custody assessor works for the county, the assessment will cost around $1,000-$2,500, on average. A private assessor may charge $10,000 or more.

Additional Costs

Adding on to the court costs and legal fees, you also must take into account the additional costs of divorce. If there is a jointly owned property, you might have to sell the property during the divorce. There also can be costs for buying new homes or renting apartments for each spouse including their moving expenses. If there are children involved, they might need to see a counselor. There can also be fees for financial lawyers and accountants to handle the division and the sale of property(ies). You are also required to pay filing fees within the court. These fees differ from each state and usually cost around $150. If you can’t afford the filing fees you may get them waived.


  1. Editors, Thumbtack. “How Much Does a Divorce Cost?” Thumbtack, 19 Sept. 2018,
  2. Magloff, Lisa. “The Average Cost for Divorce.” LegalZoom Legal Info, 18 July 2016,

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Moshier Law should be your first choice for when you need the best divorce lawyer in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona. An experienced family law attorney will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We advocate for our clients, so they have the brightest future possible. Give us a call today at 480-999-0800 for a free consultation.

Moshier Law services all of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Jennifer and her team of professionals seek to resolve Family Law cases efficiently with your goals in mind.

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Jennifer Moshier, Scottsdale Divorce Lawyer


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