How much does divorce cost in New York?

A divorce in NY can be expensive, but it depends on the specifics of your case.

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What's Inside

One of the first questions that many people who are considering divorce in NY state have is: How much does divorce cost in New York? 

The truth is, nobody can answer this precisely. The cost of divorce differs from case to case. However, as you’ll discover in this article, you can get a sense of the cost based on the specific factors of your divorce. 

The average cost of divorce in New York

In most cases, the biggest cost of any divorce is your lawyer. In New York, on average, people currently pay $13,000 to $16,000 for a divorce attorney to handle their case. 

Whether or not you hire a lawyer, you’ll have to pay fees for things like filing for your divorce, serving the paperwork to your spouse, working with a mediator and more. We discuss these in detail in the next section, but know that, overall, these things can currently add an average of $2,000 to the cost of your divorce in New York state.

Breakdown of the costs of divorce in New York

The divorce process has many steps. Below are the main costs you may face along the way.

Filing fees

The divorce process in NY begins when you file the divorce complaint and all other required documents with the New York Supreme Court clerk in the county where you or your spouse reside. At this time, you pay a filing fee, which is currently at least $335. Check your county’s court website or call them for the specific cost in your county.

Service fees

After filing, you must serve your spouse with the divorce papers. Most people hire a process server for this. Fees for process servers vary. You can currently expect to pay around $95 for regular service and more for expedited service in New York.

However, if your spouse is willing to sign an affidavit acknowledging service, you can send the papers by first-class mail. This costs a couple dollars, depending on the weight of your envelope.

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Attorney fees

Nobody is required to hire an attorney to get divorced. However, legal counsel can help you avoid mistakes in filing the paperwork. They also know how to negotiate a fair settlement agreement and best present your case in front of a judge. Though the price of a lawyer may cause sticker shock, it may be worth it in the end.

Attorney fees for New York divorces vary. Some attorneys charge an hourly rate, others charge a flat rate. The average hourly rate for a New York divorce lawyer is currently between $305 and $380

Temporary spousal or child support

Soon after the filing of a divorce, one of the spouses sometimes requests that the court grant temporary orders for child support or spousal support. If you make more than your spouse or are the noncustodial parent, you may have to pay these costs while the divorce is pending in court.

In New York, child support and spousal support are calculated using a set formula. The calculation depends on each spouse’s gross income and how many children you have. You can estimate your obligations using New York’s temporary maintenance worksheet.


Courts refer most New York divorces to mediation to try to resolve them without litigation. In mediation, a neutral third party, called the mediator, tries to help the spouses reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce.

If a court refers you, the first meeting with a divorce mediator is free in New York. If you need additional meetings, the cost depends on the mediator. You can find low-cost mediation resources. Otherwise, you may pay a few hundred dollars an hour or a flat fee of a few thousand dollars.

Because the purpose of the mediation is to settle your divorce, you may also want an attorney to help you negotiate and draft a divorce agreement. You’ll have to pay your attorney for this time. Still, spending on mediation can save significant money compared to going to trial.


If mediation doesn’t work or you choose to opt out of it, the next step of the divorce process in New York is typically discovery. This is an exchange of information between spouses. If you have a contentious case, you may have to pay costs associated with:

  • Gathering or subpoenaing documents: Your attorney may charge a flat fee or an hourly fee to prepare the requests for documents from your spouse. If your ex or their attorney is uncooperative, your attorney may need additional time. Also, when you request information from third parties, you may need to pay a minimal fee for processing the request and copying documents.
  • Hiring expert witnesses: If you have significant assets or complicated child custody issues, you may need to hire experts (such as psychologists and accountants) to review information, prepare reports, attend depositions and testify in court. The cost depends on the type of expert but is usually a few hundred dollars an hour.
  • Taking or defending depositions: In addition to experts, you’ll need to hire a stenographer to transcribe the deposition. This can cost several hundred dollars depending on how long the depositions take.


The actual trial of a divorce involves not only attorney’s fees but also expert witness fees and costs associated with trial preparation. For example, you may pay a paralegal a few hundred dollars an hour to prepare exhibits.

Factors that impact the cost of a New York divorce

A few key issues can make a big difference in whether your divorce is in the lower or higher end of the cost spectrum. These issues include:

  • The type of divorce
  • Shared property
  • Minor children
  • Spousal support

Contested divorce vs. uncontested divorce

The cost of divorce in New York varies significantly depending on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. 

  • In a contested divorce, the spouses disagree on one or more issues in the divorce. Often they end up going to trial, where a judge determines the terms of their divorce.
  • In an uncontested divorce, both spouses largely agree on all the divorce terms. Typically, they can reach an agreement outside of court.

An uncontested divorce usually costs significantly less than a contested divorce because it may only involve paying court filing fees and attorney fees for negotiating and drafting a divorce agreement. The cost of a contested divorce, however, can add up, as it takes time to prepare for trial and go through it.

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Property division

If you and your spouse have real estate or other shared property, you’ll need to determine how to divide this property, or let the court make this decision for you. This process can bring costs associated with:

  • Selling property or a business to divide the proceeds
  • Buying out your spouse if you want to keep the property or business
  • Refinancing to help with a buy-out
  • Absorbing a mortgage or credit card debt

Minor children

If you and your spouse share minor children, unexpected costs can add up quickly. You may have to pay child support, including education or health care costs. If you and your spouse share custody, you may also have to pay for new furniture, clothes and other items for your home. 

Spousal support

Like temporary alimony, permanent alimony is calculated using a specific formula in New York. From there, courts may consider additional factors and increase or decrease the award when appropriate. The length of time you have to continue paying alimony depends on how long you were married. Alimony ends if either spouse dies or if the receiving spouse remarries. 

When to speak with a lawyer

It’s possible to divorce without legal counsel. However, many people find it beneficial to work with an attorney, even if they end up reaching a divorce agreement through mediation.

A knowledgeable divorce attorney can save you significant time and money. They can be sure all your paperwork is filed properly and on time. They can represent you in mediation and, if you and your spouse agree to divorce terms, they can review and explain the agreement. Or if you go to trial, they can build your case and argue it with your best interests in mind.

In the end, the cost of a lawyer may bring you peace of mind during an unsettling experience.

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Disclaimer: This article is provided as general information, not legal advice, and may not reflect the current laws in your state. It does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not a substitute for seeking legal counsel based on the facts of your circumstance. No reader should act based on this article without seeking legal advice from a lawyer licensed in their state.

This page includes links to third party websites. The inclusion of third party websites is not an endorsement of their services.

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