For most of us, a divorce is ugly business, with potential custody battles and complications over shared property. A $200 fee and 30 day waiting period are usually the last thing anyone is worried about.
For the rare individual, however, divorce fees and waiting periods are more than a minor nuisance. Some states require a minimum of 540 days to process a divorce, even if a settlement is reached right away. This is bad news for both Johnny and his mistress in waiting.
We looked at divorce laws for all 50 states to find the easiest (and most difficult) places to file for divorce. The data was collected from individual state government websites and the American Bar Association. Our Ease of Filing Score is based on a combination of waiting periods and fees, where the shorter the period and the lower the fee, the higher the overall score.
Topping the list is Alaska, where you can pay $150, wait 30 days, and skip off into the sunset with a state-verified divorce. Appropriately, Alaska also boasts the highest divorce rate, with 14 out of every 1,000 adults filing every year.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Arkansas. The fee—$165—isn’t too bad, but the 540 day waiting period is the longest in the nation. If you have your next gentleman or lady in mind, be sure to change your residence before you start the divorce proceedings.
Finally, do fees and waiting periods actually influence divorce rates, or is it just a coincidence that Alaska ranks number one in both ease of filing and divorce frequency? We charted our Ease of Filling Score against each state’s divorce rate to find out:
There is a weak positive correlation between the two (0.31), but that’s hardly definitive. There could be any number of factors at play here, and as always, correlation does not equal causation. Also, experts note that divorce laws can vary even within states, changing slightly by county, so be sure to check your local laws before cutting ties with the mister or missus.
Compare divorce rates, fees, and waiting periods for all 50 states