It's almost impossible to contemplate a divorce without thinking about the money involved. Divorce is, after all, expensive.
So, just how much can you expect to spend if you get a divorce this year? Honestly, there's no easy answer to that question because there are a lot of different factors involved that can raise (or lower) the cost -- but here are some basics to keep in mind:
A "per se" divorce is cheapest.
If you and your spouse can agree on all of the basic terms, an uncontested divorce is the simplest and least expensive way to go. If you file pro se, without an attorney's assistance, you can get the paperwork part of the process over for little more than the filing fee. (In Hawaii, that's only $215 for couples without children and $265 for couples with children.)
An attorney's help is still a good value in uncontested cases.
All that being said, it's not always wisest to handle your divorce pro se -- even if you and your spouse agree on everything. Unless you genuinely have nothing to split and the marriage was very brief, it's usually smart to have an attorney look over your divorce papers and make sure that you aren't cheating yourself out of something important -- or just making a mistake somewhere. For an uncontested divorce, lawyers tend to charge between $1,000 and $5,000 (depending on where you live).
A contested divorce is much more costly.
When a divorce is "contested," that means that a couple can't agree on at least one important issue. A contested divorce now costs, on average, $2,500 -- as long as it doesn't go to trial. When a couple can't agree on multiple issues or there's a sticking point (often around issues of custody and support) that can't be resolved without a judge weighing in, the average cost of a divorce goes up to $20,000.
Obviously, the more you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your divorce, the more beneficial it will be for both of you. Try to approach your spouse with the idea that you're both unhappy -- and a little collaboration now can help you both build a happier future.