It is commonplace to talk about the stress involved in filing for divorce. However, it is also common to face a little sticker shock when couples find out that the divorce can cost just as much or more than the wedding. This is particularly the case for couples here in New York, who are second only to California in the average cost filing for divorce. According to a new study, New Yorkers pay on an average of $17,100 for divorce of couples without children and $25,600 for couples with children. The national average is $15,000.

Why so high?

The details and expense of each divorce are different, but common contributing factors in the cost include court filings, attorney fees and other legal costs. While these expenses are part of the process, there are other contributing factors based on the client’s actions:

Contentious divorces are more expensive: Those couples who choose litigation will pay more because the process is more complex and drawn out when the courts are involved.

Custody issues can add up: One of the most contentious parts of a divorce often is the parenting plan that includes custody, visitation and other details involving the care and support of the children.

Cost of living differences: While our neighbors at the other end of the state face a higher cost of living, western New York is still a more expensive place to live than many other parts of the country. This higher cost may place greater emphasis disputes over child support or spousal maintenance.

Clients can reduce the cost

There are a number of steps that couples can take to reduce the cost of their divorce. These include:

No-fault divorce: If the couple can agree upon or negotiate the details, uncontested divorces are faster and less expensive. To do this, the couple must agree on such issues as division of assets, child support, spousal maintenance as well as custody and visitation.

Be prepared and thorough: Organized couples reduce the time attorneys need to effectively handle a case.

Pick the right attorney: Some attorneys prefer to take their cases to court, telling clients it is in their best interests, but it is better to find the right attorney to fit the needs of the client. Whether it is a no-fault divorce or a highly contentious one, it is best to have this discussion with prospective attorneys during the initial consultation.