The Worst U.S. States for Divorce

united states map

By Katie Davis

While divorce laws are complex, have many facets and are sometimes interpreted a bit differently by different judges, there is no doubt that there are a few U.S. states where obtaining a divorce becomes quite an ordeal.

Check out this list of the worst states for divorce and why their laws make divorce so tricky.

Rhode Island – The smallest, geographically, and also one of the most historical states in the country, Rhode Island has the second-longest divorce waiting period with a minimum processing stretch of 510 days. The filing fee is only $120, but that waiting period can be pretty difficult for many couples seeking a divorce.

Like many states in the New England area, Rhode Island actually has a low marriage rate as well as a low divorce rate.

South Carolina – Visited by vacationers for its beautiful beaches, palm trees and warm weather, South Carolina is not exactly divorce-friendly. The state mandates a minimum of a one-year separation period before divorce filing can even take place.

South Carolina also requires residency in the state, requiring three months of residency if each party lives there. If only one party actually lives in South Carolina, then the residency requirement becomes a year for the other individual. It is tied with Vermont for the third-longest processing time.

Arkansas – In a state full of world-renowned hot springs and southern charm, things still become quite difficult when focused on divorce. Arkansas only has a filing fee of $165, but the minimum processing time of 540 days is over-the-top.

The state has the longest actual processing time in the country, so that makes it extremely hard to obtain a no-fault divorce there. Arkansas also requires all divorcing couples to have 18 months of separation with no exceptions – that means that any small amount of cohabitation during that time takes parties back to square one.

Vermont – This state known for its several mountains, big lakes and gorgeous winters is also one of the worst U.S. states for divorce. The waiting period for divorce is one of the worst with a mandatory six-month separation period that must take place between the parties.

Beyond the waiting period, a year of residency must happen before a divorce is official, and then there’s still a three-month period before the judge’s approval is truly set in stone. Many Vermont couples actually go next door to New Hampshire to get divorced.

New York – The Empire State known for its pretty landscapes as well as the extremely populous NYC is one of the worst states for divorce in the country. Filing fees are a whopping $335 each, and there is a minimum processing time of 360 days.

Before 2010, New York didn’t recognize no-fault divorce, but that has fortunately changed. The state requires that there be a “marital breakdown” of at least six months, but parties do not have to be physically separated for the entire duration of that time.

Nebraska – Known for Midwestern hospitality, multiple rivers and numerous historic trails, Nebraska is also known for being tough on those seeking a divorce. The state’s filing fee is $157, but the shock comes with the 420-day waiting requirement for all divorce papers.

A year’s residency must be established, and there is also a two-month cooling-off period.

California – Divorce in the pretty Golden State is quite expensive. Divorcing couples must pay a $395 fee, one of the highest fees in the entire country. On top of that fee,  couples must wait 360 days for all paperwork to be processed.

At this point, Cali also requires a six-month “cooling off” period after filing happens.

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10 comments on “The Worst U.S. States for Divorce

    Lets not leave out good old Louisiana! My son was married only 18mos and worked two jobs so his wife could finish college. So she files for divorce and his working his but off just came back to bite him. Mind you the second job was mowing grass and is not a for sure income and is seasonal. Se he’s ordered to pay 1050/mo in child support for their 2yr old son. Wanted shared custody but got joint with only every other weekend visitation. He was then ordered to pay the 700 house note in lieu of spousal support for the next year so she could finish her schooling. So his regular job he clears 2200/mo so when all is said and done that leaves him only a little over 400 to live on. Even if he files bankruptcy he will still not be able to pay the alimony so the house is now going to be foreclosed on and I guess she’ll try to put him in jail for contempt of court. Someone really needs to be able to oversee these useless ignorant judges we have here. We wanted to appeal but every attorney we asked said the appeals courts won’t overturn anything. So what is he supposed to do?

    MASSACHUSETTS is outragious. I am a Divorced Father. ExWife earns the same amount of money in career as I do. I know there are other States that have bad “procedures”, but, how interesting it is that Massachusetts is between TWO of the worst States listed here, Vermont and Rhode Island. Massachusetts is the Capital of Corruption in all topics; particularly Divorce Court. First the Judge freezes 100% of the Father’s Assets and appoints the Father’s Assets to cover the expenses of the Wife’s Divorce. We got divorced because the Wife was Physically Abusing our toddler children and also the Husband. Then, it was discovered(during the divorce discovery period) that she had been in a relationship with another man during the entire marriage(over 4-years), plus other abuses(list too long). None of that mattered, custody battle dragged on for 2-years(The Children BEGGED to “Live with Daddy, NOT Mommy”), Father is led on by the Court and Judge that he will get custody of the children; ExWife ends up with 100% Physical Custody and 100% Legal Custody. Husband is ordered to pay the following (Employed or Even when Unemployed No Fault of His Own, I.E. Layoffs, Work-Injuries, etc,.. 1)100% Healthcare, 2)Full Child Support Monies, 3) Husband can Never Claim Taxes for the Children, 4)Child Support was based on the highest grossing year(before Taxes) of the Father’s career(fluke job working 7-days a week/long hours, once in a lifetime type job situation), which was double the average maximum gross income any other year in his career. Layoffs occur potentially in Father’s career, he is ordered to pay FULL Child Support amount Layed Off or Working, never allowed to Modify Child Support down to a lower amount when layed off/Unemployed no fault of his own. For two-years in Divorce Court, every curve ball and scam is thrown at the Husband/Father, trying to get the Husband/Father to quit defending himself and/or his children. The Divorce Court and the Bias toward women, does everything they can do to “break” the man down until he quits. Freezing, then wiping out the man’s finances including retirement funds. It goes on and on. Again, I only hear in this article the “Worst States due to SLOW Process”…. How about listing the “Worst States for Divorce based on DIVORCE END RESULTS/STATISTICS” of who gets what. Men in Massachusetts are starving and homeless post-divorce.

    You didn’t consider the Cumming, GA. Here we have The Siemon Law Firm -TSLF. I paid them in 8 month an average of about $3,000 a month! I have been treated bad, and finally they refused to represent me because….I didn’t follow their advise of giving up the hope for my child’s custody!

    FLORIDA’S Life long alimony on an eleven year marriage
    Really … Where is Florida on this list? I was married eleven years to a RN who received permanent alimony until I die or she remarries. This is no court of law, but a billion dollar industry fueled by the Family Section of the Florida Bar. Familes loose and the attorneys win. It is Shameful and disrespectful to women who want to earn their way, not take advantage of archaic alimony laws and present positive roll models for their children to emulate.

    Arkansas should also be listed for its backward laws and judges in smaller rule counties that do not follow procedure. There is not proper supervision of these outlying area judges. With a lack of over site the experience of couple divorcing dramatically varies from judge to judge and county to county. The best reports come from the Capital Little Rock.

    You’re misssing a state or two…
    Aren’t you forgetting New Jersey, where women seem to get the sympathy? While my papers say that I am responsible for medical for the kids (my choice), I had asked that the terms be modified for her to provide medical fir the kids if I became unemployed through no fault of own and reinstated when I found employment. This was because I had lost my job and couldn’t even afford rent, let alone my own medical (and I have diabetes). The judge denied my request.

    Permananent Alimony States ar the problem
    I had rather wait longer than to go through a lifetime of paying an ex spouse in a permanent alimony state. Florida is the worst state; keeps the payers in lifetime court. The Bar runs the state of divorce in Florida. Prepare to be a slave for the rest of your life. Marriage is doomed; who wants it and face this penalty for working.

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