Can A Breakup Bankrupt You? The High Cost of Divorce

January 2, 2013  |  

Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher have been battling over money for a year, stalling their divorce. More recently, Bethenny Frankel announced her split from her husband Jason Hoppy. The Daily Mail reports that Frankel (somewhat drunkenly) approached Katie Holmes at a party to gather contact info for Holmes’ divorce lawyer. Frankel, who has turned her stint as a New York Housewife into her own talk show, the Skinnygirl, two spin-off shows, a fitness DVD, and other endeavors, has a lot to protect. And remember Nas and Kelis’ mega money dispute that played out in the media during their divorce proceedings?

Divorce isn’t just about ending a marriage. It is also about money. There can be battles over shared assets and a divorce itself can be costly. Michael Jordan’s divorce from Juanita Jordan was estimated to have cost Jordan $260 million and was considered by Forbes magazine to be “the most expensive celebrity divorce” in history, as of April 2007. When Tiger Woods got divorced from Elin Nordegren it cost him a reported $100 million.

Besides the settlements just the divorce proceedings themselves can rack up bills. If you can’t do the divorce yourself because of a messy separation, going to court means paying a variety of fees. According to a Huffington Post blog by family court attorney Diane L. Danois, subpoenas seeking financial and employment documentation, motions filed objecting to the subpoenas or for failure to timely comply, and hearings will all have to be paid for. And this is just the beginning.

“This chapter of the litigation process can easily run up an additional $5,000,” write Danois, which breaks down the actual costs of divorce item by item. Typically, a family court case involving divorce, can range from from $15,000 to $35,000, or more to litigate, says Danois.

You can choose the cheaper route of mediation (which can range between $500 and $3,000) if there isn’t much to dispute or to do it yourself, if your divorce is simple. Websites such as,, and can help with DIY divorces.

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