How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Pennsylvania?

calculating the cost of divorce in pennsylvania
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The average cost of divorce in PA is around $4,000 for an uncontested marriage dissolution with a lawyer and $15,000 for a contested case.  

PA divorce costs are this high mainly due to fees for legal representation, which are not always necessary. There are ways to lower the cost of divorce in PA, and we are ready to introduce you to the most popular options.

What Factors Influence the Cost of a Divorce in Pennsylvania?

The average divorce costs are most affected by the marriage dissolution type since the price of a contested divorce with a lawyer is much higher than that of an uncontested one. There are also other important factors that influence the overall price:

couple fighting over a divorce

1) Fighting with your spouse

The ability of a couple to get along is the main factor that may decrease the price of the divorce. In case spouses have agreed on all the terms of ending their marriage and have recorded them in the Marital Settlement Agreement, they do not necessarily need to hire lawyers, which automatically decreases the expenses.

However, there are situations when it is impossible to resolve disputes amicably, and a divorce will be contested. You will have to hire a divorce attorney who will accompany you on each step of this difficult and long process. They will prepare the paperwork for you, provide you with consultations, help you in mediation, and advocate for your interests in court during each hearing.  

Since US lawyers usually charge an hourly rate, the overall amount you owe may exceed tens of thousands of dollars in the end. This prompts most spouses to reach agreements where possible.

custody battles

2) Custody battles

One of the aspects the spouses cannot agree on most frequently is custody over their kids. As a result, the judge will have to make final decisions on the matter, taking into account the evidence provided by the parents and other parties involved.

Since the PA courts consider the child’s best interest a priority, in some cases, the couple will need to hire a child custody evaluator. This is an expert who informs the court about potentially suitable custody options after running a thorough investigation. A custody evaluator is usually hired in grave cases, for example, when some parties to the case might have a mental illness, or there is a history of abuse.

They will hold various interviews with the child, parents, as well as immediate family members, examine school or criminal records, etc. The overall evaluator fee is between $5,000 and $10,000. It is more expensive in bigger counties and is usually split between spouses.

couple dividing a house during divorce in Pennsylvania

3) Assets or debts

The more property, assets, or debts you have, the more complicated and expensive your divorce will be if you cannot agree on how to divide them. Even though the courts in PA are inclined to divide the property, assets, and debts equitably between spouses, they may also review each asset individually and divide it according to several factors.

During trials in a contested case, you may need to hire various experts, for example, a real estate appraiser that will evaluate the cost of properties or a forensic accountant who can exclude the possibility of fraud on your partner’s behalf. Each professional charges different fees:

  • Real estate appraiser – between $325-$700 per appraisal procedure.
  • Forensic accountant – between $300 and $500 per hour.

There may also be financial advisors involved in your case if you have joint businesses. If you’re hiring a lawyer working in a firm, they may have a partner dealing with business cases who can handle business division for you. Alternatively, your company may already have a lawyer on a retainer who is qualified to deal with cases like yours. Such professionals may help you run a correct valuation and divide the ownership of a business, outlining what each party gets, financially and in terms of responsibilities, post-divorce. The hourly rate of a business lawyer is approximately $400 per hour.

couple hiring a divorce lawyer

4) Your attorney

As a rule, the biggest share of expenses each spouse is going to cover is attorney’s fees. The average cost of a divorce lawyer in PA is approximately $250 per hour. The rate depends on a professional’s experience, effectiveness, and even the location of a chosen attorney.

Moreover, most PA lawyers charge a retainer fee, which is approximately $3,000 upfront. The lawyer will first draw the payment for their services from a retainer, and you will be required to top it up once the sum runs out.

How Much Does a Mutual Consent Divorce Cost in Pennsylvania?

On average, the cost of uncontested divorce in PA is approximately $4,000. This amount includes legal fees, as well as those for serving your spouse and filing the paperwork with the court.

If you want to have the cheapest uncontested divorce, you may choose not to hire a lawyer at all and go through the steps completely on your own. In this case, the main expenses you will need to cover are the court costs for divorce, which are approximately $300.

You may also choose to work with an online divorce provider and will have to pay a flat fee of approximately $139 for paperwork assistance apart from a filing fee for divorce.

woman reading divorce lawyer agreement

How Much Does a Contested Divorce Cost?

In Pennsylvania, the cost of a contested divorce is $12,000 on average. However, if the case is serious and requires lots of trials and experts involved, the total price may be up to $30,000. Overall, the gravity of a dispute between the spouses is the main factor that increases contested divorce cost considerably.

How Much Does It Cost to File for Divorce in Pennsylvania?

The filing fee for divorce in Pennsylvania state is $300-$400, depending on the county where you file. You may also need to pay some additional fees if the specifics of your case necessitate it.

If you cannot afford to cover those fees, you may be able to receive help with divorce costs. You will need to fill out A Petition to Proceed in Forma Pauperis and file it with the county clerk’s office. If you don’t receive any governmental benefits, you will also need to file a Poverty Affidavit explaining your financial struggles.

Please take into account that the cost to file for divorce can be waived only if you can prove your difficult financial situation. Otherwise, you will need to cover the fees within 10 days after the court denies your request.