How Much Does a Divorce Cost in PA?

Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC. – Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers

The typical cost of a divorce in Pennsylvania depends on a number of factors. Naturally, people seeking divorce desire a level of legal and financial certainty during this difficult process. While it’s not possible to predict the precise cost of divorce, as many factors can increase or decrease the cost of divorce in PA, it is still helpful to understand which factors and fees may be involved in determining your divorce costs.

This article by the Philadelphia divorce lawyers at Schwartz, Fox, and Saltzman helps answer the question of “how much does a divorce cost in PA” by taking into account various factors which may prolong the process.

Why is it Difficult to Calculate the Exact Cost of a PA Divorce?

Because the facts of each case are different, it is important to consult a family law attorney to understand how the facts of your case could affect the cost of your divorce. Lawyers charge different hourly rates and request retainers in varying amounts. This is why it’s difficult to directly answer the question; “how much does a divorce lawyer cost in Pennsylvania?”

The reason it is difficult to predict with accuracy the cost of a divorce is because there are so many factors that impact that question. How complicated is your divorce? Do you, your spouse or both of you own a business? Is alimony appropriate in your case? Will both of you work diligently to move the process forward or will one of you delay the process? Will both parties cooperate in the divorce process? Are there many other factors to be considered?

What Elements Affect Divorce Costs?

Obtaining a divorce can be an emotionally and financially difficult process. Many elements, or issues, can affect the cost of a divorce. Specifically, issues stemming from longer marriages, the relationship between divorcing spouses, and factors like child support can potentially increase the cost of a divorce.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

Pennsylvania is a no fault divorce state. Being a no fault divorce state means you don’t needing to assign blame and prove fault to end a marriage. However, there are still two types of divorce couples may follow: uncontested and contested. Uncontested divorce costs tend to be less due to the mutual agreement to end a marriage while a contested divorce usually costs more as divorcing spouses disagree about various issues.

An uncontested divorce where both parties agree on the division of assets is the easiest and least expensive type of divorce because both spouses have agreed to all terms of the divorce. Stated simply, there are no issues that require a judicial determination. A contested divorce is more expensive because one or both spouses are unable to agree to one or several issues such as property division or alimony. This will result in attending court for your divorce.

Consultation Fees

Choosing the right family law attorney for your divorce is critical. Seeking legal counsel of a reputable and experienced divorce lawyer can marginally increase the cost of your divorce. This is because many attorneys charge a small consultation fee to cover the cost of an initial case review and to provide legal advice.

The family law attorneys at Schwartz, Fox and Saltzman do not charge for the first consultations. Many divorce lawyers do.

Civility with Your Spouse

Divorces are inherently contentious matters. However, making a concerted effort to remain civil with your spouse can reduce the cost of your divorce. Maintaining good relations with your spouse means there is a higher likelihood of negotiating the economics of your divorce and thereby avoiding the expense of formal litigation.

Marital Assets & Debt

According to Section 3502 of the Divorce Code, Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution jurisdiction, which means marital property is divided based on what the Court determines to be fair, not simply an equal distribution. Marital property are assets, e.g., the marital home, retirement accounts, etc., acquired by either spouse during the marriage and other assets. With some exceptions, debts incurred by one or both spouses during the marriage qualifies as marital debts that are divided. 


Many marriages feature spouses with unequal earning power. If you are the primary income earner in your marriage, your spouse may seek alimony as part of the divorce process so they can rehabilitate themselves. Alimony is not granted automatically and instead is granted or denied by the court based on 17 factors stated in § 3701(b).

Judges rarely hear division of property matters. Divorce Administrators, also known as Divorce Hearing Officers hear these matters. Judges rarely get involved in the division of assets, since most cases are successfully resolved before reaching a judge.

The Divorce Lawyer You Choose

Legal fees are nearly unavoidable when you hire a divorce lawyer, and finding the right divorce lawyer can impact your overall costs. Experienced attorneys with successful professional reputations typically charge higher fees. 

If you expect your divorce will involve several contested issues or complex financial matters, it may be necessary to retain an experienced divorce attorney.

PA Divorce Filing Fees

A filing fee must be paid to the court of the county in which you are filing your Pennsylvania divorce case. Each county court has its own filing fee, so the court costs vary depending on where you file. Filing fees can range from $200 to over $400.00 for the initial divorce complaint.

Who Pays for Divorce in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, each spouse is typically responsible for their own legal and attorney fees during a divorce. However, pursuant to § 3702, and 3323(c) and (e), a Court has the power to order a spouse to pay a portion of the other spouse’s legal fees while the divorce is pending or as part of the final divorce decree. Specifically, the Divorce Administrator will evaluate each spouses’ income and other factors to determine if a spouse will share in the other spouse’s counsel fees.

How Are Collaborative Divorce Costs Different?

In 2018, Pennsylvania enacted the Collaborative Law Act, which allows spouses to significantly reduce divorce expenses. Both spouses sign an agreement to resolve their divorce in a collaborative matter, i.e., avoid formal litigation, and hire attorneys specially trained in collaborative law. A collaborative divorce or divorce mediation allows both spouses to negotiate a divorce tailored to their particular circumstances. 

Lawyers at Schwartz, Fox and Saltzman are specifically trained and have substantial experience in Collaborative Law, as well as Mediation.

Talk with an Experienced PA Divorce Attorney

Proceeding with a divorce will raise several important questions regarding your assets, children, and your future. The experienced divorce attorneys at Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman can help you understand the potential costs of your divorce and guide you through this process in a cost-effective manner. To learn about the representation we can provide, contact us today.

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