If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, I hope you don’t live in one of the following states.

Divorce is never a pleasant experience, even under the most amicable of circumstances.   In the antagonistic structure of divorce court, there is always a winner and a loser.   Ask 20 people which states are the worst ones in which to get a divorce and you’ll probably end up with twenty different answers.

Open any media website and the first thing that is apt to be seen is a “Top 10” list of places to live, eat, breathe, sleep, vacation, study or, well, pick almost any subject. The only thing each of the lists has in common is they are just someone’s opinion. What may be the best dog walking park in New York City to one person, may be the armpit of canine playgrounds for someone else.

Researchers recently tried to get a handle on the best and worst states in which to get a divorce. They wanted a study that relied on variables which could be measured and quantified. They accomplished their goal and the seven worst states in which to get a divorce, are:


With a filing fee of $157.00 and 420 days to process the divorce Nebraska easily ranks in the top of the worst states to get a divorce. A year’s residency is required, which is followed by a two-month cooling off period. People in Nebraska tend to get married around 26 years old and, on average, the marriage lasts almost 23 years.

New York

The Big Apple makes the list by combining a filing fee of $335 with a minimum processing time of 360 days. The divorce industry in New York put food on the table for New York’s private eyes until 2010. That’s the year the state finally joined the other 49 in recognizing no-fault divorce. New York requires a marital “breakdown” of six months, but does not require physical separation. New York combines a low marriage rate and the nation’s second-lowest divorce rate, which may be caused by the high median [first] marriage age of almost 30. As advised by NYC divorce attorney Bruce Provda, New York also boasts the highest percentage of contested divorces.


$395 and 360 days to process the paperwork will get a divorce in California. On January 1, 1970, California became the initial no-fault divorce state when Ronald Reagan signed the legislation. The state also is the only one of the fifty-states that requires a six-month “cooling-off” period after filing. The filing fee is among the highest in the country.


Arkansas lowers the filing fee to $165 making divorce a little more affordable. With a minimum processing time of 540 days, Arkansas is pushed close to the bottom of states when it comes to the best places to divorce. With the longest processing time in the country, Arkansas makes it rough to get a no-fault divorce. There is a mandatory 18-month period of separation and any co-habitation during that period will reset the clock.

South Carolina

South Carolina requires a minimum of one-year separation before even filing for divorce. Residency in the state is required, with a minimum of three months for couples when both live in the state. If only one party lives in South Carolina, then the residency stretches to a year. The state also enjoys the status of being tied with Vermont for the third-longest processing time.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island cuts the filing fee back to $120, but hands out a minimum processing time of 510 days, making it the second-longest waiting period for a divorce. Even after filing, there is a long “cool down” period with another five months. As in the rest of the region, Rhode Island has a low marriage rate, low divorce rate and a high, almost 30, median age at first marriage. Besides the usual permitted grounds for divorce found elsewhere in the country, Rhode Island’s law permits divorce in case of “…gross misbehavior and wickedness.”


The worst state to get divorced in is Vermont. Cathryn Nunlist, professor at Vermont Law School, advises potential clients seeking divorce to go next door to New Hampshire which is the easiest state for a divorce. In Vermont, couples must live completely apart during the mandated six-month separation period. A year’s residency is required before the divorce will be granted and then there’s a three-month “decree nisi” period to go through before the judge’s approval is absolute.

How the List Was Determined

With statistics and data gathered from Bloomberg, the US Census Bureau, state bar associations and state legislature websites, five variables were reviewed and scored. The variables and their assigned points:

Filing fees: 10

Minimum separation period: 20

Length of residency: 20

Waiting period (after filing): 20

Minimum number of days for entire procedure: 30

For each of the variables, the state jurisdiction with the lowest score received 0 points while the highest state received the maximum number. The remaining states were awarded points based on a percentage and then ranked on total points. States with the highest scores, the seven shown in this article, had the more onerous process.


So What About The States With The Most Lenient Easiest Laws?

Divorce sucks. I should know. The best advice is to check your states laws and research the process and what it entails. While this doesn’t remove the pain of the process, it helps to know what to expect while going through it.

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