How much does a divorce cost in Utah? That is one of the most common questions we get. Unless you succeed at obtaining an order waiving court costs, everyone who files a divorce in Utah pays a filing fee of $325 plus a “vital statistics” fee of $8, for a grand total of $333 or $398 for divorcing parties with minor children when counting the $65 fee for the state-mandated Divorce Education and Divorce Orientation courses. That’s it! Those are your court costs for filing a divorce. End of story, right?
Not exactly. You may have heard horror stories of celebrities paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for their divorce, or even ordinary people paying upwards of $30,000 to $100,000 to get divorced. So what gives? Why is divorce so expensive? And where are these fees going? As it turns out, how you achieve your divorce plays the biggest role in how much you will spend.
In Utah, the cost of divorce seems to range anywhere from $3,000 for an uncontested divorce all the way up to $30,000, and more, for divorce cases that require extended litigation, including going to trial. These additional fees beyond the $333 filing fees go to two primary sources: (1) Your attorney, and (2) any experts used during the divorce process. Because attorneys and experts (not the court) are the number one source of expenses in divorce, it makes sense that the way in which you achieve your divorce plays the largest role in how much you will spend.
So, then, how does one control his or her expenses and fees in the face of divorce? If your spouse hires an aggressive attorney who only knows how to resolve disputes using the adversarial process, used in civil and criminal law courts, you will probably need to also get your own litigation attorney on board to represent you. Be prepared to pay a lot for these lawyers and understand this dispute resolution method often results in poorer outcomes than a non-adversarial process might.
Did you know that well over ninety percent (90%+) of all divorce cases in Utah are ultimately resolved through some sort of negotiated settlement? You heard that right: the vast majority of Utah cases are resolved by agreement.
Knowing this fact, does litigation seem wise? If you are more likely to resolve your case through a negotiated settlement in the end, does it make sense to start out in litigation? Maybe, if your spouse has zero wherewithal or ability to negotiate or collaborate. It happens. But more often than not, once parties learn about the astronomical costs and risks associated with litigation, each is often more than willing to volunteer for a non-litigation dispute resolution process, such as Collaborative divorce, or mediated divorce.
The key to controlling costs and expenses in divorce and to getting good outcomes is education. Learn as much as possible about the divorce process itself as well as the methods available to achieve a divorce before starting the process. Make a pre-divorce plan, which may include talking to an attorney. Then, talk to your spouse. Making educated decisions and keeping the dialogue open (even if it’s difficult) is your best bet to curb run away divorce costs.
A good place to start your divorce legal education is learning about the four primary methods of divorce in Utah. Your first step, after all, before taking legal action will be to choose your method of divorce.
If you would like more information on the four methods to get divorced in Utah are, take our free online course, Divorce 101. It's not only free, it takes less than 30 minutes. Learn about uncontested divorce in Utah, mediated divorces, collaborative divorce, and the litigation process.
Jennifer L. Neeley
Jennifer has helped thousands of people get divorced without fighting in court.
Three Levels of Service