When Madonna divorced Guy Ritchie in 2008, she reportedly settled with the famous filmmaker for $75 million as part of their divorce agreement. That’s nothing, however, compared to Mel Gibson's $425 million divorce from Robyn Moore Gibson in 2011. Topping the list of expensive divorces though is Rupert Murdoch’s $1.7 billion split from former wife Anna Murdoch in 1999.
Not surprisingly, these numbers are extraordinarily high for these high profile entertainers and business moguls. Still, anyone who has ever been through a divorce can tell you it’s expensive for anyone at any financial level. So, how much does the average divorce really cost? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a simple one.
BREAKING DOWN THE COSTS:
While there may still be plenty of ads promoting a "Quick and Easy Divorce for $299," that price is usually for couples who have already agreed on the terms of their divorce and just need a lawyer to sign off. Bruce Cameron of Cameron Law PLLC in Rochester, Minn. says the generally accepted figure is anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000. “Basically it costs as much to get unmarried as it does to get married,” says Cameron. Here are just a few of the fees and costs divorcing couples can expect to pay:
- Attorney's fees (which can vary by state)
- Court costs (also varies by state)
- Costs for parent education classes
- Fees for early neutral evaluations
- Mediation costs
And if there is real estate involved, you can also expect to pay:
- Refinancing costs
- Record deed fees
- Added hourly attorney’s fees
Depending on the circumstances, Cameron says it is possible to get away without spending anything on your divorce, but you could also wind up paying the equivalent of a four-year college degree. Unfortunately, the latter is the more typical result.
Your location will also play greatly into the final numbers. Depending on where you live, asking how much the average divorce costs is like asking, "What does it cost to eat out?"
“Well, would you like to go to McDonald's or Ruth's Chris?” asks Rosemary Frank, a certified divorce financial analyst in Brentwood, Tennessee. “And do you live in New York City? Chicago? Or Podunk, Arkansas?” Just like in real estate, when it comes to divorce, it’s all about location, location, location.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR COSTS LOW
1. Know What You’re Agreeing To