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How much will the divorce process cost?

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2021 | Divorce |

Youre ready to walk away from your marriage, but you worry about how much doing so will cost you and if you can afford it. Divorce can be expensive, but you may be able to control just how much yours costs by deciding how you want to approach it. There is a big cost difference between contested and uncontested divorce. 

Most couples in South Dakota are able to make it through the dissolution process without going to court. Regardless, no matter how you go about your divorce, there will be expenses. 

Uncontested divorce 

If you and your spouse know and agree on what you both want out of the divorce, you can file an uncontested divorce. All it takes is drawing up the settlement and filing it with the court. There is a $95 filing fee. If a judge approves the settlement terms and grants the divorce, that is the end of it. 

Contested divorce  

If you and your spouse cannot come to terms with which you both agree are fair, litigation may be the only way to settle things. Legal and court fees can add up quickly, depending on: 

  • Hours spent on your case 
  • If you need financial experts or therapists to weigh in 
  • If you have complex issues to address 

The average amount South Dakota residents spend on the divorce process is roughly $8,500. It can be less than that or greatly exceed that amount, depending on your specific needs.  


If you and your spouse need some help and time to get through the negotiations process, but litigation proves unnecessary, mediation is a good way to go. There is no set timeline here. You work at your own pace and utilize as many sessions as it takes to reach a settlement agreement. Once you reach that agreement, you pay the filing fee and wait for court approval. Mediation service fees may vary, depending on the company you use, but the cost is usually minimal compared to litigation.  

Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst 

There are ways to reduce your overall expenses when going through the divorce process. Certainly hope for the best, but make sure you prepare yourself for the worst. Ask questions about costs and legal expenses before you get started, so you have an idea of what to expect with whichever approach to divorce you choose to take.