How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Massachusetts?

Image of money symbols that represent the cost of divorce

Legal experts and professionals in Massachusetts family law suggest that the expenses for a straightforward and uncontested divorce, including attorney fees and court charges, can range between $1,500 and $2,500. However, contested divorces are generally more costly due to the involvement of legal proceedings, which can potentially escalate the expenses to $10,000 or higher.

While divorce is undoubtedly a financially challenging process, checking in advance the factors affecting costs and considering cost-saving alternatives can help mitigate the financial burden associated with it.

What Is the Average Cost of a Divorce in Massachusetts?

The typical divorce cost in Massachusetts can be around $2,000 for uncontested cases and $10,000 or more for highly contested ones. Let’s check in more detail how the divorce prices vary depending on the case type.

1. Uncontested Divorce Cost

While the cost of an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts can be from $500 to several thousand dollars, it is generally more affordable than a contested divorce. How much does an uncontested divorce cost in Massachusetts? The prices can start at around $200 in mandatory court fees, given spouses do not involve an attorney and go through the process completely on their own.

Paying online services that help with divorce paperwork can increase the price by $140-$200, on average. However, this is a convenient solution for couples who do not want to search for and complete all legal papers on their own. They can get a full set of divorce documents for their uncontested case quickly and without extra stress related to complicated legal paperwork. 

2. Cost of Getting a Divorce in MA with a Lawyer

Infographic about 5 reasons why divorce with lawyer could be challenging
The 5 reasons why getting a divorce with lawyer could be challenging.

The majority of lawyers in the state charge for divorce $250-$400 per hour, and the overall expenses on an attorney’s assistance can exceed $7,000-$10,000. If you wonder, “How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Massachusetts?” it is necessary to consider several factors that affect the attorney fees:

  • the complexity of the divorce process,
  • the reputation and experience of a lawyer,
  • their location,
  • the amount of time required to resolve the legal matters, etc.

It is often the largest expense associated with the dissolution of a marriage.

If spouses are in agreement but still decide to hire a lawyer for some partial or full-scope assistance, they can expect the cost for divorce attorneys to be $1,000-$3,000 or more. In highly contested cases with many court hearings required, divorce lawyer fees can significantly impact the couple’s budget, often reaching $10,000 or more.

Massachusetts Divorce Filing Fees

The cost to file for divorce in Massachusetts is currently around $220, including a filing fee of $200, a surcharge of $15, and paying for summons. These are mandatory fees that all couples should cover.

However, Massachusetts courts allow applying for fee waivers in cases of financial hardship. Individuals who are in a difficult financial situation and have insufficient income to cover the divorce filing fees in Massachusetts can file an Affidavit of Indigency. The court will review the information provided and determine whether the petitioner is eligible for a waiver.

The judge's gavel lies on the table next to the divorce filing fees
When filing for divorce in Massachusetts, person that filing typically needs to pay filing fees.

Spouses may be required to pay other court fees, such as for making copies of documents, serving a respondent, attending court-ordered counseling, etc. If parties are in agreement and file a joint petition, there will be no need to cover the costs of hiring a process server to deliver documents to the other spouse.

What Factors Influence the Cost of Divorce in MA?

Money and calculator indicating the increasing cost of obtaining a divorce
The cost of divorce in MA may increase due to complexity of legal issues or need for additional legal services.

There are several factors that impact the cost of divorce in Massachusetts, including the type of marriage dissolution, division of marital assets, custody battles, legal assistance required, and the level of conflict between spouses. Understanding them can help spouses predict potential divorce costs, make informed decisions, and manage their finances effectively. Let’s focus on each factor in more detail.

Factor 1: Type of Divorce

The type of divorce, whether it is contested or not, affects its overall cost. An uncontested divorce is usually less expensive since spouses agree on crucial aspects of marriage dissolution, such as property division, alimony, and child custody. Therefore, they do not need to take part in court battles and can avoid high lawyer’s fees, significantly reducing the overall price.

In contrast, contested divorce involves disagreements on multiple issues and often leads to many court hearings, resulting in higher legal fees, court costs, and increased litigation expenses.

Factor 2: Marital Assets

The division of marital assets in MA and preparation for it also significantly impact the cost of divorce. The state follows equitable distribution laws, which mandate that all property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally.

Determining the value of assets, such as property, investments, retirement accounts, and businesses, is usually a complex and time-consuming process. It requires assistance from professionals like appraisers, property experts, forensic accountants, etc., adding up to the divorce expenses.

Factor 3: Custody Battles and Cost

Couples argue over child custody during their divorce
Engaging in custody battles during a divorce in Massachusetts can be challenging and prolong the divorce process.

When children are involved, custody battles often escalate legal costs in a divorce proceeding. Courts will prioritize the best interests of the child, and if there are any disagreements between spouses regarding custody arrangements or visitation rights, it can prolong the legal process. It will require more court appearances, attorney fees, and, potentially, the involvement of psychologists and other experts.

Besides, parents with minor children are often ordered by the court to attend parenting education classes, which aim to provide guidance and support during and after the divorce. These classes are designed to help spouses adapt to their new roles and responsibilities. However, please note that they also cost money.

It is reasonable for parents to consider mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods, which are often more cost-effective and help reduce stress related to court battles.

Factor 4: Legal Assistance

Hiring an attorney to navigate the divorce process is often a necessity, and it contributes substantially to the overall expenses since such services can cost from $1,000 to $10,000 or more. Attorneys typically charge hourly fees, and the case’s complexity will affect the amount of time a legal professional has to spend on your divorce.

Besides, spouses may need to cover other legal expenses. Some couples engage in mediation or collaborative divorce processes to resolve their issues outside of court. These alternative approaches can help reduce the overall cost of divorce. They involve professional mediators or collaborative lawyers who charge comparatively less than what you have to pay a lawyer for a full-scope legal representation during contested proceedings.

In complex divorces involving child custody battles, property division disputes, or financial disagreements, parties may need to consult expert witnesses, such as child psychologists, forensic accountants, and property appraisers. The costs associated with hiring expert witnesses can greatly increase the overall divorce expenses.

Factor 5: Fighting with Your Spouse

The extent of conflict between divorcing spouses can significantly influence the costs. The more contentious the case, the higher the expenses. When couples cannot reach agreements and engage in constant litigation, court fees, attorney fees, and administrative costs can rapidly escalate. Taking part in alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, can help decrease costs by promoting open communication and compromise.

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