We recently surveyed our Ohio readers to find out about their experiences with divorce in their state. Here’s what we found out.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in Ohio?
According to our survey, the average divorce in Ohio costs $12,500, including $9,900 in attorneys' fees. Attorneys' fees are a significant chunk of the cost of divorce because the average hourly rate for attorneys in Ohio is $240. Your attorney's hourly rate—plus the rate of any paralegals and other firm staff—factored with the total time spent on your divorce case will determine the amount of attorneys' fees you'll pay. Other expenses include fees for things like court filings, the cost of copying and sharing documents, and compensation for expert witnesses and consultants (like child custody evaluators, appraisers, or financial analysts).
Below, we’ll take a closer look at some of the factors that may add to the cost of divorce in the Buckeye State.
What Can Increase the Cost of Divorce in Ohio?
Spouses who have minor children or a high-net worth have higher divorce costs than the state average. In addition, if you file for a divorce in Ohio based on fault, such as adultery, incompatibility, or "habitual drunkenness," the cost of your divorce is likely to be higher than the average.
Filing for a Fault Divorce
If you request a fault divorce in Ohio, you’re telling the court that you believe your spouse caused the break up, based on one of more the following:
- abandonment for at least 12 months
- physical or mental abuse
- gross neglect of marital duties
- drug or alcohol addiction, or
Once you allege adultery, or any other type of fault-based behavior, you have to prove it with evidence that a judge finds both admissible and compelling; this will usually increase your fees and costs. Your attorney will probably hire a private investigator to track or trail your spouse, take photographs of any rendezvous, and conduct online searches for your spouse’s social media presence on sites like Facebook, Match.com, Ashleymadison.com and other online dating sites.
In addition, your attorney will work closely with the private investigator, reviewing the evidence obtained and maybe doing some of his or her own sleuthing by reviewing bank account statements and email accounts. Once all of the evidence is gathered, your attorney will probably want to depose your spouse, the alleged lover, and other potential witnesses to the affair. All of this attorney time is billed by the hour, so your total fee will quickly skyrocket if you pursue a fault divorce. In addition, some forms of investigation may invade your ex’s privacy and land you in legal trouble, so you’ll need to make sure to ask your investigator and attorney whether they are fully informed about what’s appropriate and legal. For these reasons, many attorneys advise their clients to avoid a fault divorce unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Having Minor Children
The most expensive category of divorce in Ohio is one involving children. The cost of a divorce that involves child custody and/or child support issues can be about 50% more expensive than the average. According to our survey results, divorce costs an average of $18,800 in Ohio when minor children are involved, including $15,900 in attorneys' fees. However, costs for divorce with children are significantly lower for spouses who are able to reach a settlement before trial than those who go to divorce court to let a judge resolve their disputes.
The cost of a fault divorce with minor children may be even higher than this average, especially if the party seeking child custody is claiming abuse, addiction, institutionalization, abandonment, or neglect, which can effect the custody decision (adultery doesn't typically affect the child custody decision, however).
Having a Dispute Over Alimony
Whether or not minor children are involved, divorces in Ohio that involve a dispute over alimony also cost more than the average. In alimony disputes, spouses often disagree on how much the working spouse actually makes or how much the non-working spouse should be able to earn. According to our survey results, divorce involving alimony disputes costs an average of $17,300 in Ohio, including $14,400 in attorneys' fees.
Getting to a settlement or preparing for trial in these situations can be expensive because of the costs of hiring and reviewing the opinions of financial experts and vocational analysts. And of course, the more alimony a spouse requests, the more the other spouse will fight it, and the more expensive it becomes.
In addition, filing for a fault divorce to get more alimony will raise costs, but in Ohio, if adultery or other behavior during the marriage harmed the couples’ finances, the alimony award can be higher. For example, if a cheating spouse wasted a large amount of money on hotels, airfare, or gifts for a paramour, then a court can order that spouse to reimburse those funds or pay additional alimony. (And note: If one spouse starts to cohabit (live together) with a romantic partner during the divorce, a judge may consider that as a factor when deciding whether and how much alimony to award the cohabiting spouse.).
Having Property Division Issues
Divorces in Ohio where property needs to be divided cost more than the average, especially for high-net worth couples, spouses who file for a fault divorce, and couples who have to go to trial on their issues rather than settle them out of court.
According to our survey results, divorce with property division issues cost $17,600 in Ohio, including $14,400 in attorneys' fees. As with alimony, spouses who allege fault to try to get a larger share of the marital property may have higher costs. (In Ohio, a spouse who wasted the couple's assets due to adultery or addiction may be entitled to fewer assets. For instance, if one spouse emptied the couple's’ bank account to buy drugs or alcohol, a court may give the innocent spouse a greater share of the assets in order to replace the misused funds. )
Spouses with numerous brokerage, retirement, and savings accounts, cars, and real estate will spend more on divorce because of the financial analyses needed from attorneys, appraisers, and tax experts.
Helpful Links About Ohio Divorce
There's more to know about divorce in Ohio; you may find the following websites useful.
Divorce in Ohio (from Divorcenet.com)
Ohio Office of Child Support
Ohio Child Support Schedule