The average cost of divorce in Arizona depends on a number of variables. Answering the question, “How much does a divorce cost in Arizona?” requires looking at these different factors. Also, note that any filing fees in this post are current for June 2018. Please visit your Arizona county court’s website for the most up-to-date filing fees as they’re updated frequently.
This article is not intended to be legal advice. You can contact the Arizona Legal Center (ALC) today to learn more about your situation. Note that when you first contact the Arizona Legal Center, a law student (and not a practicing attorney) will handle your intake.
What is the cost of a divorce in Arizona?
In Maricopa County, the base fee for filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (with or without children) is $349. Pima County’s fee is $83 less at $266. Other Arizona counties have different filing fees. If your spouse files a response to your petition, they must pay a $274 filing fee for the Response / Answer to Dissolution form.
These filing fees are only the tip of the iceberg, though, when it comes to figuring out how much a divorce will cost for you.
How much does a divorce actually cost?
In the best-case scenario, without children, you can file for an uncontested divorce using the self-service forms on your county court’s website, when available. If not available, you must include any and all necessary statutory language that is required. This may include information related to equitable distribution of assets and debt, name change, and spousal maintenance. If this is the option you select and works for you, you would only be responsible for paying the initial filing fee for the divorce itself, together with service of process fees, if applicable.
For the majority of people, though, this simply is not likely or possible.
A divorce can be complicated. In many divorces—especially those involving children—you will need to bring in attorneys or other legal specialists to help with your case. They can help you resolve issues related to:
- Parenting time and legal decision-making
- Child support
- Spousal maintenance
- Division of property
- Division of debt
Nationwide, a website reader survey found that the average cost of divorce is approximately $15,500 per spouse (and around $20,000 for divorce cases going to trial). As an average, this takes into consideration that some people will pay much less, and some will pay much more.
What other divorce costs can be involved? It depends on how you handle your divorce and what professionals you bring in.
Legal document preparation
Although a self-service do-it-yourself divorce is an option in Arizona, it may be beneficial to hire a certified legal document preparer (CLDP) even if you have a straight-forward case.
While not offering advice or acting as an attorney, legal document preparers can make sure that all appropriate forms are filled in correctly with any and all required statutory language. They can also help you better understand any fees you will need to pay. They also help take the stress out of filing deadlines and paperwork.
Typically, a CLDP charges a flat fee that is much less than an attorney would charge, because they cannot do all the things an attorney can. For example, CLDPs are not authorized or qualified to give legal or strategic advice concerning your divorce.
If budget is a concern for you, a CLDP may only cost a few hundred dollars, compared to a few thousand dollars for help from an attorney. However, for more complex cases, working with an attorney is crucial.
For complex divorce cases or those with children, it is important to consult with an attorney. An attorney can protect your assets, calculate child support, and negotiate for equitable parenting time and legal decision-making.
For those who hire a lawyer, the bulk of their divorce costs will be in attorney fees. If your situation is complicated and contentious, the expense will be worth it. An attorney can:
- Prepare your case for mediation or court
- Communicate directly with an argumentative spouse or their attorney for you
- File and answer petitions and motions, as well as propound and respond to discovery
- Assist you in calculating child support and division of assets
- Help you formulate an equitable parenting plan
In addition, paralegals and administrative staff generally charge their hourly rates separately. Likewise, you may have to pay for any postage or copies your attorney handles on your behalf.
Other costs related to divorce in Arizona
There are a few other costs related to divorce, both in time and money. Changing your name on your social security card is free, for example, but if you need to take off work to make these changes, it may result in some lost wages.
Other common divorce-related costs that you might not consider include:
- Varying fees for third-party experts and professionals to help with your court case
- Third-party mediation fees
- For parents with children, a Parent Information Program Class with a third-party at a cost of $50.00 per parent
- Updating a passport that is over one year old costs $110, the same as if you were renewing your passport
- Driver’s license name change costs $12
If you need more information on what your options are, such as fees that you might incur and how long a divorce can take, the Arizona Legal Center can help. Divorce is an emotionally challenging time, and you need practical information to move forward. Knowing more about the legal process for a divorce is the best place to start.
The Arizona Legal Center offers free legal aid and consultations in Arizona, making the law accessible to all. Get in touch today to schedule a consultation.
The Arizona Legal Center provides free legal aid and consultations in Arizona only. We provide low-cost access to fee-for-service cases when determined appropriate by an attorney at the Center, but generally do not undertake full-scope representation.