Divorce Across the US: Do Some States Pose More Obstacles than Others?

There are a plethora of differences between one state’s divorce laws and another state’s. Whether one state is better for your divorce versus another is typically a subjective opinion based on whether your specific situation would benefit from community property laws for division of assets, whether you prefer the court to be biased with regard to favoring the mother in a custody battle, etc. However, on a more objective scale, one state may be more preferable for divorce than another state simply based on how expensive and time-consuming the process is and the requirements for filing or actually getting divorced. According to Bloomberg Rankings, the following are the top 5 worst states to get a divorce in based on the state’s court filing fees, minimum time required to complete the divorce process, residency requirements, minimum separation periods before filing and other mandatory waiting periods.

5th worst: California
Unfortunately, California is ranked as the fifth worst state for a divorce. The filing fee just to get the process started is $435, which is one of the highest in the country. In order to file for divorce there is a six month residency requirement. Additionally, California is the only state that requires a six month mandatory cooling off period after filing for divorce, meaning that even if you have resolved your divorce in less than six months, the court will not restore your status to a single person until the six month waiting period expires.

4th worst: Arkansas
Arkansas also made the top 5 for the worst states to get divorced in. Although the filing fee is only $165, the state has a minimum processing time of 540 days, which is the longest in the country. The reason for this lengthy processing time is because there is an 18 month mandatory period of separation, in which living together is prohibited, before the court will grant a divorce.

3rd worst: South Carolina
Apparently, the 3rd worst state to get divorced in is South Carolina because the state requires that couples be separated for an entire year before even being able to file for divorce. The couple must also live apart during that one year separation period. Additionally, the state has a three month residency requirement if both parties are residents of the state, resulting in a minimum processing time of 450 days. If only one party lives in South Carolina, then the residency requirement is one whole year.

2nd worst: Rhode Island
Rhode Island is also near the top of the list for worst states to get divorced in. Although it has a reasonable filing fee of only $120, Rhode Island has the second-longest wait to get a divorce with a minimum processing time of 510 days.

And the Worst State to get Divorced in is: Vermont
According to Bloomberg Rankings, the worst state to get divorced in is Vermont. Married couples filing for a no fault divorce must live apart from each other for at least six months. Also there is a one year residency requirement before a divorce will be granted. But before the judge actually approves the divorce and it becomes finalized, there is an additional three month waiting period that must expire.New Hampshire: Easiest State to Obtain a Divorce
Unlike the above states, which have the most expensive filing fees, most extensive waiting periods and the most stringent residency and minimum separation period requirements, Bloomberg Rankings rates New Hampshire as the easiest state for a divorce. Perhaps this is because in New Hampshire there is no minimum processing time or minimum residency requirement, which makes the process for getting a divorce much faster. So couples in Vermont should consider going “next door” to New Hampshire for their divorce!

Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only lawyer in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.


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