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How much does a divorce cost in Arizona?

How much does a divorce cost in Arizona? Read on for everything to know about what impacts the cost of divorce in AZ.

evident Editorial Team
April 2, 2024
Arizona flag

Getting divorced can be a stressful and challenging experience. And uncertainty about the cost of a divorce in Arizona can be an extra source of stress, so a common question is, “How much does a divorce cost in Arizona?”

While it can be difficult to accurately predict how much your divorce will cost, certain factors consistently impact the cost of divorce in Arizona. 

Understanding those dynamics should help eliminate some of the stress and uncertainty involved in the divorce process.

In this article, we will:

  • Identify key factors that affect divorce costs in Arizona
  • Share data on the average cost of divorce in Arizona 
  • Provide resources for lower-cost divorce options for people who may not be able to afford an Arizona divorce attorney
Key Takeaways

The Average Cost of Divorce in AZ

According to USA Today, the average cost of a divorce in Arizona without children is $13,000, and the average cost of an Arizona divorce with children is $19,500. 

But each divorce is different, and it's hard to say what counts as an "average divorce." The cost of divorce in AZ could be considerably higher or lower than these averages. 

For example, there is a huge difference between the average cost of a contested divorce in Arizona and an uncontested divorce, which can cost significantly less than these averages.  

To understand how expensive your divorce might be, it’s important to understand what influences the overall cost of divorce in Arizona. 

What affects Arizona divorce costs?

So, how much is a divorce in Arizona? Several key factors will dictate the answer.

Those factors include:

  • Knowable costs, like court costs and attorney fee rates
  • Broader factors, such as how complicated and contentious your divorce is

Knowing filing fees and attorneys' average hourly rates is helpful given their concrete impact on AZ divorce costs. 

But remember that the broader, more thematic factors may ultimately dictate the total cost of divorce in Arizona because hard-fought court battles will cost considerably more than straightforward and collaborative divorce proceedings.

AZ Divorce Filing Fees and Court Costs

The filing fee to initiate a divorce proceeding in Arizona typically costs about $274 - $350, but the fee can vary by county. (As you can see below, the Maricopa County divorce filing fee is larger than the fee in Pima County).  

Here are some examples of the filing fee for divorce in Arizona:

  • Maricopa County – the filing fee for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is $349 (with or without children), and it costs $274 to file a Response / Answer to Dissolution.
  • Pima County – the filing fee for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is $274, an additional fee of $45 is required if there are children, and it costs $199 to file a Response. 

There may be other costs associated with filing motions or other divorce paperwork. And again, those fees can change depending on the county your divorce is in and the type of motions or paperwork filed.

Be sure to verify the specific filing fees and court costs applicable in your county by checking with the local county courthouse or consulting an Arizona divorce attorney.

Fee waivers and deferrals in Arizona

In Arizona, you may be eligible for a fee waiver or deferral if you cannot pay the filing fees and costs.

A fee waiver is available if you collect Social Security Income (SSI) and file supporting paperwork along with an Application for Deferral or Waiver of Court Fees and Costs.

The Arizona Courts website provides two examples of how someone might demonstrate eligibility for a deferral:

  • The court may set a payment plan for the filing fee if your income is between 150% - 225% of the federal poverty level or if you have extraordinary expenses.
  • The court should grant a deferral of the filing fee until a later date if you receive TANF, food stamp benefits, or assistance from a non-profit legal aid organization. 

As with a fee waiver, you must provide supporting documentation to receive a fee deferral. 

How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost in Arizona?

Understanding the cost of an Arizona divorce attorney requires familiarizing yourself with their fee structures as well as what could impact their overall cost.

Fee Structures for Divorce Lawyers in Arizona

Divorce lawyers in Arizona typically use one of two fee structures: hourly rates or flat fees. Some attorneys may also require a retainer fee, which is an upfront payment to cover legal fees and expenses.

Under the hourly rate model, you will be billed based on the time dedicated to your case by the lawyer or their staff. Conversely, flat fee arrangements involve a predetermined fee covering the entire divorce process.

Billing methods pros and cons

Which fee structure makes sense for your case will depend on your financial circumstances and the specific dynamics of your divorce. 

Some divorce cases are better suited for one fee structure over the other. For example, an Arizona divorce lawyer might be more inclined to offer a flat fee for an uncontested divorce, where the amount of work involved can be more accurately predicted. 

By contrast, hourly rates are often utilized for contested divorces where it's challenging to estimate the amount of time required.

Cost of Arizona Divorce Lawyers

The average hourly rate for Family Law lawyers in Arizona is approximately $258 per hour. (Divorce falls under the broader legal area of Family Law). 

But this is just an average, and actual hourly rates can vary based on factors such as the lawyer's experience and prevailing market rates in your location. For instance, major metropolitan areas like Phoenix might have higher average costs for divorce lawyers compared to other areas within Arizona.

Another critical factor that impacts an attorney's fees is the amount of time the divorce attorney spends on your case. This leads us to the next crucial factors affecting the cost of divorce in Arizona: how complicated and how contentious your divorce is.

How Complicated Your Divorce Is

There is a broad spectrum of how complex or straightforward your Arizona divorce could be. The context of your divorce matters because, in general, the more complex your divorce, the more expensive it is likely to be. 

A key distinction in this regard is whether your divorce is uncontested or contested, which we’ll explain below. But keep in mind that there is still a broad range among contested divorces, and we’ll explain what issues make a contested divorce more complicated. 

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce in Arizona

An uncontested divorce is when both spouses reach a mutual agreement on all issues related to their divorce. Divorce-related issues include:

A contested divorce, meanwhile, is when the parties cannot agree on one (or several) divorce-related issues. Even if you and your spouse agree on most issues but have a single unresolved issue, your divorce will be considered contested. (For example, if you agree on alimony and property division but not child custody). 

The distinction between contested and uncontested divorce is crucial because uncontested divorces are generally faster, simpler, and less expensive than contested divorces.

How much does an uncontested divorce cost in Arizona? If you can work with your ex-spouse to reach an agreement, you may only have to pay the applicable court costs and filing fees, such as for filing the applicable consent decree.

But there is still a huge range of outcomes when dealing with a contested divorce. How many unresolved issues there are, and how hard-fought those issues are, can still significantly impact the overall cost of divorce in Arizona.

What makes an Arizona divorce more complicated

Here are a few factors that might make your divorce more complicated and therefore increase the costs:

  • Children – Divorces involving children are typically more complicated because issues such as child custody and child support need to be addressed. Emotions can also run higher and it can sometimes be harder to reach compromises.
  • Spousal maintenance – Alimony is not awarded in every divorce, so generally speaking, divorces involving spousal maintenance awards are more complicated than those without. 
  • Substantial marital assets – The larger the marital estate is, the higher the stakes are, and the more complicated property division can become.
  • Complicated marital assets – Similarly, it is easier to divide a simple marital estate that may or may not include a family home. But more complex assets, such as if one spouse has an ownership interest in a company or a partnership, may require appraisals and be more difficult to divide.

Generally speaking, these issues will make a divorce more complicated and can increase divorce costs in AZ because there is more to sort through. Another key factor, though, is how contentious your divorce is and whether you are able to work amicably with your ex-spouse to avoid hard-fought court battles. 

How Contentious Your Arizona Divorce Is

Even if you are not able to file for an uncontested divorce, working collaboratively with your ex-spouse can significantly reduce the time and cost of an Arizona divorce. As a rule of thumb, collaborative divorce processes are less expensive than contentious and drawn-out court fights.

Alternatives like divorce mediation and collaborative divorce offer ways to minimize lawyer fees and overall court costs.

An amicable resolution is not always possible – you and your partner are getting divorced for a reason, after all.  But to the extent you and your ex-spouse can find common ground and work together, you can save time, money, and stress during an already challenging process.

Lower-Cost Divorce Options in Arizona

piggy bank, money, finance

If you’re worried about the cost of divorce in Arizona, there are resources that can help reduce legal expenses without hiring an Arizona divorce lawyer for full-scope representation.

  • Limited Scope Representation – A divorce lawyer can support you in particular areas of your case, such as attending divorce mediation or reviewing your divorce agreement without representing you for the full scope of your divorce case.
  • Legal Aid – Free or low-cost legal services may be available through Legal Aid organizations depending on your level of income. The Arizona Courts website includes a list of resources for people seeking free legal services or low-cost legal aid.

And remember, fee waivers or deferrals may be available if you are unable to pay the Arizona divorce filing fees. 

FAQs About Divorce in AZ Cost

How much does it cost to get a divorce if both parties agree in Arizona?

If both parties to a divorce in Arizona agree on all issues related to the divorce, you should be able to file for an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces are generally simpler, faster, and cheaper than other divorce options. 

If you don’t have any attorneys’ fees, the cost of an uncontested divorce in Arizona could be under $1,000, much of which is due to the ~$300 divorce filing fee. But if you hire lawyers and there are divorce attorney fees, an Arizona uncontested divorce could still cost thousands of dollars, depending on how difficult it is to reach an agreement that can be submitted to the court.

What is the cheapest way to get a divorce in Arizona?

The cheapest way to get divorced in Arizona is through an uncontested divorce. By avoiding the need for court intervention and expensive litigation, an uncontested divorce can significantly reduce divorce costs in AZ. 

Couples can consider options such as mediation or collaborative divorce to sort through any issues without getting drawn into protracted court fights.

How long does a divorce take in Arizona?

The timing for an Arizona divorce can vary depending on a few factors. Typically, an uncontested divorce can be finalized within a few months, often within 3-4 months. 

Meanwhile, contested divorce cases may take significantly longer, ranging from several months to more than a year. The complexity of the case, the court’s schedule, and the willingness of the parties to cooperate all impact how long a divorce takes in Arizona.

The Final Word on Divorce Costs in Arizona

So, how much is a divorce in Arizona? Let’s recap the main takeaways. 

The average cost of a divorce in Arizona was $13,000 without children and $19,500 with children. But any given divorce in AZ can cost far more or far less than those averages.

When considering how much your Arizona divorce might cost, the main factors to remember are:

  • Filing fees
  • Attorney fees
  • How complicated your divorce case is
  • How contentious your divorce case is

During a challenging and stressful time, the guidance of an experienced divorce lawyer can prove invaluable. But if the cost of an Arizona divorce lawyer is beyond your means, there are alternative legal options available at a lower cost, such as limited-scope representation and Legal Aid.

If you have other questions about the cost of divorce in Arizona, it may be worth speaking with an experienced divorce lawyer. During the initial meeting, consider asking these key questions at an initial consultation to help decide whether the lawyer you speak with is a good fit for you.