Filing fees are set by the courts, so the cost to file for divorce in Arizona depends on the county where you file. Most courts have a flat-rate filing fee for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (e.g. it’s $349 in Maricopa County), while some counties impose separate filing fees when children are involved (e.g. it’s $364 to file for divorce with children and $324 without children in Yuma County). Following is a summary of what you’ll pay to file for divorce in each of the 15 counties across Arizona:
- Apache County – $229
- Cochise County – $284
- Coconino County – $319
- Gila County – $284 (with children), $234 (without children)
- Graham County – $284
- Greenlee County – $209
- La Paz County – $324 (with children), $294 (without children)
- Maricopa County – $349
- Mohave County – $384 (with children), $334 (without children)
- Navajo County – $218
- Pima County – $274
- Pinal County – $294
- Santa Cruz County – $199 (with children), $169 (without children)
- Yavapai County – $234
- Yuma County – $364 (with children), $324 (without children)
The filing fee for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is only half of the picture when it comes to filing for divorce. When one spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the other spouse has the right to file a response or personally appear in court to respond in person. In either case, the response carries a separate fee:
- Apache County – $154
- Cochise County – $209
- Coconino County – $289
- Gila County – $209 (with children), $159 (without children)
- Graham County – $209
- Greenlee County – $134
- La Paz County – $249 (with children), $219 (without children)
- Maricopa County – $274
- Mohave County – $309 (with children), $259 (without children)
- Navajo County – $130
- Pima County – $199
- Pinal County – $219
- Santa Cruz County – $124 (with children), $99 (without children)
- Yavapai County – $159
- Yuma County – $289 (with children), $249 (without children)
Unfortunately, the filing fees for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and subsequent Response are just the tip of the iceberg. Unless you’re able to file an uncontested divorce using the self-service forms available online and have no children (which is extremely rare), you’ll need to hire a professional and pay additional court costs.
The Full cost of a Divorce in Arizona
The actual cost of a divorce can vary widely from case to case depending on the issues involved. The average cost reported by American consumers is around $15,500 per spouse, with the bulk of that charge being attorney’s fees. Divorce cases that go to court are even more expensive, averaging almost $20,000 per spouse. On the other end of the scale, spouses who are able to reach a settlement agreement outside of court report about a thousand dollars in savings with an average cost of $14,500.
Divorces are inherently complicated, so it makes sense that they can be pricey (though it still hurts to pay the bill when you’re done). When children are involved, you’ll need to determine parenting time, legal decision-making, and child support. Even without children, it can be challenging to agree on the division of debt, property, and paying spousal maintenance. These can be a headache to deal with, but they’re critical issues that require significant time and attention.
The Importance of Hiring a Good Attorney
Attorney costs make up the lion’s share of divorce costs, but they’re worth every penny (assuming you have a good attorney who charges a fair rate, of course). For divorce cases that are complicated or contentious, you’ll need an experienced attorney in your corner to protect your interests and preserve your rights in the face of intense opposition.
Some of the important activities that an attorney can handle in a divorce case include:
Calculating child support
- Communicating directly with an argumentative spouse or their attorney (so you don’t have to)
- Forming an equitable parenting plan
- Handling petitions and discovery
- Negotiating for legal decision-making and parenting time that preserves the child’s best interests
- Preparing your case for court or mediation
- Protecting your assets
- Valuing and dividing assets and liabilities
How much does it cost to hire a divorce attorney?
There are three ways you can hire an attorney to represent you in a divorce case:
- Full representation – most arrangements fall into this category, where the attorney handles every aspect of the case. This is the easiest form of representation and provides the most peace of mind, though it’s also the most expensive.
- Partial representation – for those with limited issues, you can save money by hiring an attorney to handle the complicated aspect(s) of the case, such as child support or alimony.
- Consultation-only – simple divorce cases with no hot-button issues and no children may only need a little guidance to get through the divorce process. In such cases, you can meet with an attorney as-needed without hiring them to represent you in the case.
Most people pay about $150 – $350 per hour to work with a divorce attorney, with the average rate around $250 per hour. Of course, that’s just the average — clients with simple cases may work with a small-town attorney for much less, while clients with complex issues and substantial assets at stake may need a full team of attorneys to handle their case. In addition to the attorney, you’ll also need to pay for the paralegals and administrative assistants working on your case, as well as the little things like making copies and serving notices to interested parties.
Other Costs in a Divorce Case
In addition to hiring an attorney, you may need to hire third-party professionals to assist with your case or testify in court. For example, you may need to pay for a mediator to help you settle your case outside of the courtroom. This costs a little extra in the short-run, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run by avoiding going to trial. Another example would be hiring an accountant to assist with financial tasks, or hiring an appraiser to value your home.
Apart from professional fees, there are a number of small costs involved such as updating your passport or changing your driver’s license. There are also state-specific programs that can add extra costs and time-commitments. For example, parents with children in Arizona need to complete a Parent Information Program class for $45 (ARS 25-352).
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.
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