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Cost of Divorce in Ohio

How much does a divorce cost in Ohio? Read on to understand what factors influence the cost of divorce in OH including average attorney fees and more.

evident Editorial Team
April 2, 2024
Columbus Ohio skyline

Filing for divorce in Ohio can be a stressful and challenging experience. For many, one question that is front of mind is, “How much does a divorce cost in Ohio?”

Several factors influence the cost of divorce in Ohio, and understanding those factors can help you better understand the process and how much you should expect your Ohio divorce to cost. 

In this article, we will explain the factors that impact divorce costs in Ohio, provide info about the average cost of divorce in Ohio, and share resources that can help people save money during the divorce process. 

Key Takeaways

What impacts the cost of divorce in Ohio?

Several factors influence how much a divorce costs in Ohio. Some are concrete inputs (e.g. court costs and filing fees), while others are more thematic questions (e.g. can you and your spouse work together amicably or not). 

And each divorce is unique, which means it can be difficult to accurately predict the exact cost of a divorce at the outset. But understanding what inputs and factors influence the cost of divorce in Ohio can give you a better sense of what might unfold in your divorce. 

Here are some key factors that impact how much a divorce costs in Ohio.

  • Filing fees and court costs – These are fixed costs associated with every divorce case in Ohio. Filing fees vary depending on the county where you file for divorce and, sometimes, based on whether you have children. 
  • Attorney fees – Ohio divorce attorneys' fees are often one of the most significant costs associated with getting divorced in Ohio but vary greatly depending on the context of your divorce. (More on this below).
  • How contentious is your divorce –  This significantly impacts on how expensive your divorce will be. Collaborative divorce processes tend to be much cheaper than hard-fought court battles.
  • How complicated is your divorce – Likewise, the complexity of your divorce (including what assets need to be divided and whether child custody must be decided) will affect the overall cost of divorce in Ohio.

Now for a closer look at each of these factors. 

What are divorce filing fees in Ohio?

If you are filing for divorce in Ohio, the first step is filing the initial divorce petition with the appropriate county courthouse. Divorce filing fees vary by county in Ohio, and sometimes change depending on whether you and your spouse have children. 

Here are some examples by county:

  • Cuyahoga County – Filing fees for “Divorce - No Children” are $200, and “Divorce - Children” are $300. 
  • Franklin County – The filing fee for a divorce is $250, regardless of whether there are children. 
  • Hamilton County -- The filing fee for "Divorce, dissolution without children" is $325, and the filing fee for "Divorce, dissolution with children" is $375.
  • Summit County – Filing fees for “Divorce (without children)” are $370, and “Divorce (with children)” are $420.

Additional fees are involved for filing other motions, and these fees vary by county and based on the type of paperwork you file.

Court costs and filing fees are paid directly to the court. Be sure to check with the local county courthouse or consult an attorney to understand your county's specific filing fees and court costs.

Fee waivers in Ohio

In Ohio, fee waivers may be available for court filing fees depending on your circumstances. 

Mandatory fee waivers are available at or below 187.5% of the Federal Poverty Level. (See the Appendix of Form 20. Civil Fee Waiver Affidavit). 

A discretionary fee waiver may still be available for individuals who do not qualify for mandatory fee waivers by filing an "Affidavit of Indigency" or “Affidavit Of Indigence For Deferral of Court Costs.” 

Again, be sure to check the website for your local court to ensure you use the correct forms. 

How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Ohio?

To understand how much an Ohio divorce lawyer costs, it’s critical to understand how divorce lawyers charge for their services as well as how much they might charge in total. 

How Ohio divorce lawyers charge for their services

Ohio divorce lawyers typically charge for their services using either hourly rates or flat fees. They may also request an initial retainer which essentially acts as a down payment to cover legal fees and expenses.

When a divorce attorney charges hourly fees, you are billed based on the time the lawyer works on your case. By contrast, flat fee arrangements involve a fixed fee for the entire divorce case that is set in advance.

pros and cons of hours fees and flat fees

Both billing methods have pros and cons. Which fee structure is best for you depends on your circumstances and the context of your divorce.  

How much do Ohio divorce lawyers cost?

The average hourly rate for Family Law lawyers in Ohio is $246 per hour. 

But remember, hourly rates vary based on factors such as the lawyer’s experience and location. For example, an experienced divorce attorney might charge more in large metro areas like Cincinnati or Cleveland.  

How Contentious and How Complicated Your Divorce Is

Court costs and attorney’s fees are two of the biggest inputs into how much a divorce costs in Ohio. But two critical thematic questions that affect how big those expenses will be are: 

  1. How contentious your divorce is
  2. How complicated your divorce is 

In general, the more complicated and contentious your divorce is, the more expensive it will be. 

Related questions are whether you are dealing with a fault or no-fault divorce and whether it is an uncontested or a contested divorce. 

We'll discuss each of these concepts below. But remember, at a high level, the more you and your spouse can work together, the simpler and less expensive your divorce process will be. 

No-Fault vs. Fault Divorce in Ohio

The difference between fault and no-fault divorce relates to the grounds for divorce and whether one spouse blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage (i.e. fault divorce) or whether the couple files based on incompatibility (i.e. no-fault divorce). 

Ohio offers both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. 

While there are other impacts to consider, in terms of the cost of divorce in Ohio, the key point is that a fault divorce will likely be more complicated and expensive than a no-fault divorce in Ohio. 

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce in Ohio

Another critical distinction is whether you are filing for a contested divorce or uncontested divorce in Ohio. 

Uncontested divorces, also referred to as “dissolution of marriage” in Ohio, occur when both spouses reach an agreement on all divorce-related matters, such as:

When the parties agree on all issues, there is no need for court intervention to resolve any disputes. The parties submit their marital settlement agreement to the court, and the judge will typically approve the agreement as long as it is reasonable.

So how much does an uncontested divorce cost? If your marital finances are simple and you can work amicably with your ex-spouse, you may only have to pay the relevant filing fees and avoid attorneys' fees altogether.

On the other hand, contested divorces arise when the parties cannot reach an agreement on one or more divorce-related issues, necessitating court involvement. Even if you and your spouse agree on almost all matters but have a single unresolved issue, your divorce will be considered contested. (E.g. if you agree on child custody and monthly payments for spousal support but disagree about debt allocation).

The distinction between uncontested and contested divorces is significant because uncontested divorces generally offer a faster and less expensive process. 

But it's important to recognize that not all contested divorces are alike. What is in dispute, and how contentious that issue is, still affects just how contentious and hard-fought your divorce will be.

Collaborative Divorce and Divorce Mediation

While achieving complete agreement on every detail may not always be feasible, aiming to resolve issues amicably can significantly reduce time, expenses, and emotional strain. Alternative approaches such as divorce mediation and collaborative divorce provide valuable options to minimize attorneys’ fees and overall divorce court costs.

An amicable divorce is not always possible – you are getting divorced for a reason, after all. However, to the extent that you and your spouse can find common ground and reach agreements, the divorce process will be more manageable and cost-effective.

Lower Cost Options For Divorce in Ohio

piggy bank, money, finance

If you are worried about the cost of divorce in Ohio, there are lower-cost alternatives to hiring an Ohio divorce lawyer for full-scope representation.

Limited-Scope Representation

Limited-scope representation might be an option if you only need help on a particular aspect of the divorce proceedings. In a limited-scope agreement, a divorce lawyer will help you with certain aspects of your divorce case (e.g., attending mediation with you or reviewing your divorce agreement).

This can be an effective way to get legal representation for the aspects of the divorce you need without having to spend money to have someone represent you from filing the initial petition of divorce through to the final divorce decree.  

Legal Aid

Legal Aid is also an option for many, depending on your level of income. To determine if you qualify for Legal Aid, contact an Ohio Legal Aid office near you

For instance, Ohio Legal Help helps people find the resources available to them throughout Ohio. 

Pro Bono Assistance 

Attorneys sometimes take cases on a pro bono (for free) basis. You can reach out to the Ohio State Bar to seek referrals.

The Final Word on Divorce Costs in Ohio

So, how much does a divorce cost in Ohio? Let’s recap the main takeaways. 

It is hard to predict how much your divorce case will cost from the outset, but understanding the factors that impact your total divorce costs can eliminate some of the stress and uncertainty from the process.

Key aspects of Ohio divorce costs include the filing fees in your county and attorney’s fees. Thematic factors that impact how much your divorce will cost include how complicated and contentious it is.

Remember that lower-cost legal options are available such as limited scope representation, Legal Aid, or pro bono representation if you cannot afford to hire an Ohio divorce lawyer.

If you have other questions about the cost of divorce in Ohio, consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney near you. And here are key questions to ask a family law attorney if you speak with one.