The cheapest and costliest states to divorce

By Elyssa Kirkham/GOBankingRates

The beginning of the year tends to be a popular time to file for divorce. So instead of looking for ways to save money on Valentine's Day, many married couples will likely be trying to figure out how to minimize the cost of divorce. And they should because the average cost of a divorce in the U.S. ranges from $15,000 to $20,000, largely due to divorce lawyers' fees.

What each couple pays for a divorce, however, will also depend on where they live. Divorce laws vary from state to state, and people who live in states with lower fees and shorter divorce timelines could be paying much less than those who don't. On the other hand, a drawn-out divorce and high fees make it more likely that a couple will pay thousands to get the marriage dissolved.

To find the states where it's easiest to keep divorce costs low, GOBankingRates surveyed the filing fees, hourly attorney fees, laws dictating residency requirements and waiting periods for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Click ahead for a look at some of the costliest -- and cheapest -- states to divorce.

This article was originally published on GOBankingRates.

More from GOBankingRates:

Costly: California (51)

  • Divorce filing fee: $435
  • Average hourly attorney fee: $402

California's fee to file for a divorce is the highest in the nation, and the $402 average hourly rate for attorneys is the third-highest in the U.S. The California divorce process is also on the lengthier side, taking a minimum of six months to complete.

Costly: New Jersey (50)

  • Divorce filing fee: $300
  • Average hourly attorney fee: $365

New Jersey's divorce costs are some of the highest in the nation, but the process can be lengthier than in other states, taking at least 12 months to process. This state also happens to have the lowest marriage rate in the country -- tied with Connecticut -- with just 5.4 marriages per 1,000 residents in 2014, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Costly: Connecticut (49)

  • Divorce filing fee: $350
  • Average hourly attorney fee: $417

As the other state with the lowest marriage rate in the nation, Connecticut is also one of the most expensive states for a divorce. Connecticut's average $417 attorney fee is the highest in the nation -- tied with Illinois -- and the filing fee is the fifth-highest.

Costly: Florida (48)

  • Divorce filing fee: $409
  • Average hourly attorney fee: $326

Florida residents will pay the second-highest fee charged by any state to file for a divorce, and the divorce process in this state takes a minimum of 200 days.

Costly: Pennsylvania (47)

  • Divorce filing fee: $361
  • Average hourly attorney fee: $353

With low marriage rates and low divorce rates, Pennsylvania has high costs of divorce. The filing fee is the fourth-highest in the nation, and the average attorney hourly rate is also among the costliest.

Cheap: Mississippi (5)

  • Divorce filing fee: $113
  • Average hourly attorney fee: $212

Mississippi ranks as the poorest state in the nation, according to a report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund that was released in 2014. So, low costs will be a welcome relief for locals seeking a divorce.

Filing a non-contested divorce in Mississippi will incur a fee that's $102 less than the national average and the seventh-lowest in the nation. And the average fee for an attorney is $82 less than the national average.

Cheap: Maine (4)

  • Divorce filing fee: $120
  • Average hourly attorney fee: $207

As the fourth-cheapest state for a divorce, Maine offers the eighth-lowest filing cost and the fifth-lowest average attorney rate in the nation. Costs also won't add up through a drawn-out process, thanks to the state's short 60-day divorce processing time.

Cheap: South Dakota (3)

  • Divorce filing fee: $95
  • Average hourly attorney fee: $262

South Dakota's attorney fees are below the national average, and the filing fee is one of the lowest in the nation. These lower costs, combined with short time constraints, make South Dakota the third-cheapest state for a low-cost divorce.

Cheap: North Dakota (2)

  • Divorce filing fee: $80
  • Average hourly attorney fee: $162

There's good news for those going through a contested divorce in North Dakota: The state has the lowest average attorney fee in the nation. North Dakota courts also charge the third-lowest divorce filing fee after North Carolina and Wyoming.

Cheap: Wyoming (1)

  • Divorce filing fee: $70
  • Average hourly attorney fee: $187

As the state where it's easiest to get a cheap divorce, filing in Wyoming costs as little as $70 in some court districts, which is just about a third of the national average cost of $215 and the lowest fee in the nation. Attorney fees are also about 36 percent lower in Wyoming than the national average of $294.

Click here for a full listing of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Methodology

These findings are the result of a GOBankingRates survey of divorce fees and conditions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The survey used four criteria to generate rankings for all 50 states and D.C. based on factors leading to a low-cost divorce: (1) court fee to file a divorce, collected from local court sites and online fee schedules; (2) average attorney hourly rates as reported in the United States Consumer Law Attorney Fee Survey Report 2010-2011 by Ronald L. Burdge; and (3) minimum processing time for a divorce, once filed, and (4) residency requirements to file, both of which are as reported by InsideGov.com. GOBankingRates scored states on each factor, favoring those with lower costs and shorter time requirements. These scores were combined to generate a final ranking, with court fees and attorney rates weighted more heavily than processing minimums and residency requirements.