When you file for divorce, one decision will arguably have the strongest impact on how much you pay. You have to choose whether to file for an uncontested divorce or to file a litigated or contested divorce.
As you might imagine, an uncontested divorce means that you don’t spend lots of time in court, which often means the cost for an uncontested divorce is lower. However, to reach a settlement with your ex, your attorneys may need to negotiate for weeks.
In some cases, you may even need to work with another professional in mediation to find terms that work for both of you. Is it worth the extra effort to try to file an uncontested divorce?
Litigated proceedings cost many times more than uncontested filings
Those who had the foresight to sign a prenuptial agreement with their fiance or who executed a postnuptial agreement during their marriage have already laid the groundwork for an uncontested divorce. They could potentially save themselves thousands of dollars with those earlier investments.
According to an analysis of divorce costs from 2019, the overall average cost of a divorce was $12,900. However, many divorces deviate substantially from this estimated price. An uncontested divorce with no outstanding issues costs on average just $4,100.
The more issues a couple has to litigate, the more they can expect to pay. Those with two or more issues for the courts to resolve can expect to spend $23,300. That’s almost six times the average cost of an uncontested divorce filing.
Uncontested filings aren’t for everyone
It is certainly true that mediation and collaborative divorce can help even those in high-conflict family situations take control of their divorce. However, uncontested divorces won’t always work.
Relationships where one spouse has a history of abuse or controlling behavior may require litigation. The same is sometimes true of scenarios where one spouse tries to hide property or where there are unusual circumstances that prevent the couple from reasonably settling their own concerns.
Understanding the price difference between contested and uncontested divorces can be a great reason to consider finding a way to work with your ex if doing so is appropriate. For those who want an uncontested divorce, mediation can be a way to get from only agreeing on the need to file to settling all the major issues in a divorce.