How much is a divorce in california what to expectIt is very hard to estimate how much is a divorce in California, or any other state, for that matter. According to a study, a divorce in California is estimated to cost an average of $17,500, although the actual cost can vary greatly. Read this article to learn how the cost may change based on a number of factors.

What Is the Average Cost of a Divorce in California?

In California, a divorce generally costs $17,500, with $13,800 being the attorney costs. The whole price tag can be between $5,500 and $38,000. The typical expense for couples without children is $17,100. For couples with kids, the average cost is $26,300.

What Are the Factors That Impact Divorce Cost?

California divorce costs are 37 percent more expensive than the national average (due to a higher cost of living).

In California, divorce filing fees are comparatively inexpensive. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on your own, the cost of hiring divorce lawyers and paying the court’s time becomes prohibitive. Generally speaking, you will pay more the longer it takes to reach an agreement.

Although it’s possible to predict how much money you’ll spend on a specific California divorce, knowing what costs are involved will considerably improve your expectations and help plan your budget. The following are the factors that affect the cost of divorce:

– Factor 1: Contested or Uncontested?

The main element affecting how much your divorce will cost is whether it is contested or not.

Simply put, whether you and your spouse need the assistance of a California court to resolve each family law issue, such as child custody and support, spousal maintenance, and the division of marital property, determines whether your divorce is disputed or uncontested (assets accrued between when you got married and your legal separation date).

You typically picture a contentious divorce when you think about it. In this arrangement, you and your spouse each have a family law attorney, and the attorney fees of your legal representation are completely up to you.

Although hiring a competent attorney might be quite expensive, it is maybe inevitable. When a couple is divorcing, the situation can quickly escalate, so if your ex becomes combative, you’ll need a combative divorce attorney.

On the other hand, you are considered to have gone through an uncontested divorce if you and your husband are able to come to an agreement without the help of the court.

Unsurprisingly, this is more swift and affordable than one that is litigated. One justification for this is that you can be qualified for a summary dissolution if your divorce is uncontested.

As the name suggests, this is a streamlined divorce procedure. You must both agree to forgo spousal support, be married for less than five years, have little debts and assets, and have no children (and thus no custody concerns).

If you choose this option, instead of filing a typical divorce petition followed by a response, you and your spouse will submit a joint petition together.

During the divorce process, neither side hires a divorce attorney. Although divorcing couples will occasionally hire a lawyer for just an hour or two to get some basic legal counsel, but they will then handle the majority of the work themselves or through an intermediary.

– Factor 2: Kids or No Kids?

Divorce can be more stressful and messier if you have kids with your spouse. Even if you have a cordial divorce, some factors, such as child support and custody, can make things more difficult. It can also imply extra paperwork, a longer waiting time, and additional legal assistance, all of which might raise the cost of the divorce.

The cost of a divorce may rise dramatically as a result of a custody dispute costing up to $26,300. The divorce procedure takes longer and requires more documentation when there are little kids in the marriage. It is also difficult to petition for an uncontested, summary divorce of marriage with your spouse if you have minors.

Children increase the number of problems that must be settled prior to or during a divorce trial. While the divorce is underway and after it is finalized, the parents or the court must decide on custody, a visitation schedule, and child support.

Negotiations, mediation, or other forms of alternative conflict resolution are frequently used by spouses to reach an agreement without resorting to litigation.

Your eligibility for summary divorce is important, but the actual issues of child custody and support matter much more.

You’re more likely to wind up in court if you have kids. After all, compared to, say, spousal support, people tend to feel much more emotionally charged (and confrontational) about child support and custody.

Money is a moving target, but your children are priceless. Even if you’re not considering a fought divorce, the additional time spent working out a custody plan with a mediator, for example, might eventually drive up costs.

How Much Is a Divorce Lawyer in California?

In California, lawyers’ fees are rather expensive. Depending on where in California they operate, attorneys often charge between $300 and $950 per hour. Some even want a deposit up front if the case is complicated. The total cost of an attorney might be between $12,500 and $15,300. Additionally, the lawyer could bill extra costs for document exchange and duplication, as well as for paying witnesses, appraisers, and financial analysts.

Some lawyers take a flat fee as an alternative to charging clients by the hour. Some attorneys offer limited-scope counsel, which entails charging a fixed fee (or occasionally an hourly fee) to assist you with only a part of your divorce. This will cost you less money overall than paying an attorney to assist you with your divorce.

It’s crucial to conduct research before selecting a lawyer. Find a lawyer with expertise in any specific circumstances your case may have, such as a company or a child with special needs. Additionally, you want to confirm that you approve of the lawyer’s strategy. For instance, while some attorneys like settlements, others relish courtroom battles.

What Other Expenses Contribute to the Cost of Divorce in California?

The first important thing to take into account when determining what you might anticipate paying is the cost of living in your area. Even the most fundamental court costs can vary from country to country, just as things like your attorney’s hourly rate do so in relation to the local cost of living.

– Property dispute

The community property rule is applied in California to decide what each side receives following a divorce. This law mandates that all assets acquired by the spouses throughout the marriage must be split equally. Conflicts about the ownership or value of assets can make the process take longer and cost more.

– Alimony and spousal maintenance

These are frequently contentious topics. If your husband refuses to pay you spousal support, you may anticipate spending more time and money trying to sustain yourself than you will ultimately get.

– Disagreements

Not agreeing over these and similar divorce-related problems add to the costs, time, and wasted effort for you. Your decision to resolve your divorce peacefully is entirely up to you. The secret to a quick, easy, and inexpensive divorce is cooperation.

Special conditions may also affect your payment amount. Do you need a forensic accountant, for example, to determine how much money you and your spouse indeed have? You might have to put your property on the market in order to divide your assets. These costs may undoubtedly accumulate over time.

How Much Is It to File for Divorce in California?

The divorce filing cost in California is $435. When the divorce petition is initially filed with the court, which initiates the divorce procedure, this must be paid. If both parties file pleadings with the court, both sides must pay the filing fee. There often needs to be only one filing fee in an uncontested divorce.

The following additional legal costs are associated with your divorce:

  • A service charge that you pay to the sheriff’s office process server which is around $50 when they serve your spouse with the divorce petition.
  • If a court-ordered co-parenting class is necessary for your circumstance, the cost of completing it.
  • Copy costs to get your divorce decree, around $50 to $100.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California without a Lawyer?

Even without legal representation, divorce is still expensive. There is a $435–$450 initial court filing charge to get things started. Couples can request a fee waiver if they are unable to pay the filing fee. Depending on the specifics of your case, your county court may impose extra costs.

In addition to the typical costs, you might need to pay accountants, real estate agents, or child specialists to assist you in negotiating the terms of your divorce. You might need to have an asset evaluation and a real estate valuation. To assist you and your children deal with the stress and emotional turbulence of the divorce process, you might also wish to consult a mental health specialist.

It is feasible to finish the procedure on your own, provided you avoid mediation and litigation. The most economical option is to do it yourself if you and your spouse are ready to collaborate. You don’t want to be dependent and act according to the court clerk, even though a DIY divorce is enticing. There are many other reasons why divorce petitions are refused, including grammatical and arithmetic faults.

What Divorce Method to Choose

There are four divorce methods, which are listed as follows:

– Settlement

Reaching an Out-of-Court Settlement: Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), commonly known as out-of-court solutions, can be utilized to resolve any contested matters in your case without involving the court.

Mediation and other out-of-court dispute resolution procedures let you retain control over the outcome rather than ceding it to a judge and are less expensive than traditional litigation.

When there are some misunderstandings, and the divorcing couple just cannot come to an agreement, people occasionally require a judge to assist in their divorce proceedings. The court may occasionally order mediation (especially in cases with children).

Couples have the option of mediating their divorce. Lawyers or mental health experts can serve as mediators. Costs for mediators who are also mental health professionals normally  range from $100 to $250 per hour. Pay between $250 and $950 if the mediator is an attorney.

The mediator encourages couples to craft their own divorce settlement and works to reduce hostility. The price of mediation is influenced by the required number of sessions, the venue, and the kind of mediator selected. Costs for mediation often range from $1,500 to $10,000.

– Litigation

The most well-known divorce process employed by spouses to dissolve a marriage is divorce litigation. This is the court hearing when couple’s cases are heard and decided. Although this is the kind of divorce that most people imagine when asked about terminating their marriage, the majority of divorces are resolved without a court hearing.

One of the most costly ways to end a marriage is through divorce litigation. Trials are scheduled by the court and take a lot of time for both lawyers and spouses. They are also very emotional occasions.

Litigation should only be used when one or both spouses cannot cooperate and reach an amicable agreement on their own. Typically, a disputed divorce culminates in neither partner being satisfied.

– Divorce Through Collaboration

Although more expensive than mediation, collaborative divorce is less expensive than litigation. The possible cost is between $25,000 and $50,000. However, it does provide the assistance of various specialists.

Couples who are going through this type of divorce meet with their lawyers, divorce coaches, and other experts who will be helpful to their cases, such as accountants, child specialists, or real estate agents. The specialists’ job is to assist in resolving all divorce-related concerns, such as child custody and visitation arrangements, as well as debt and asset distribution.

Divorce through collaboration is by no means inexpensive. This is analogous to litigation on the high end. Any deal the spouses reach will, however, be one they both can live with.

– Filing of Divorce Without the Help of a Lawyer

From drafting a settlement agreement to filling out the court’s paperwork and submitting them to the court, you manage the whole divorce by yourself. By choosing this option, you can save a lot of money. You can get assistance through a self-help tool provided by the court of California.

On the other hand, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, which increases the risks of making a life changing error, spending more money, or receiving an unfair result. Unless you don’t have children or a lot of marital property, this decision can cause more harm.

In a divorce procedure, anybody has the option to represent oneself or appear “pro se.” This implies that you show up in court without a legal representative.

In a disputed divorce, it can be quite challenging to defend oneself, especially if your spouse has legal representation. The litigation process can be challenging for non-lawyers to understand, and there is a chance that you won’t achieve a just result. This part is explained in the latter part of the article in detail.

Spouses frequently make errors on legal documents and don’t get their cases past the court clerk. Some couples believe they have reached an understanding only to discover they haven’t after about a month of divorce. Others, however, commit errors when finalizing their divorces, which may end up costing them financially or in other ways.


– Can Divorce Fees Be Waived in California?

If you cannot pay the divorce court expenses in California, you may be able to have them waived by requesting a “fee waiver.” You may be entitled to a fee waiver if you have a low income, you are a recipient of public assistance, your household income is below a specified level, or the court finds that you otherwise cannot afford to pay the court costs.

You just need to complete the Request to Waive Court Fees and provide a copy to the court clerk in your county.

– How to Save Money on a Divorce?

The greatest way to save money on divorce is to do it yourself if you and your partner are ready to cooperate.

Couples occasionally discover that divorce is a greater undertaking than they anticipated, which frequently prompts them to give up and seek solicitors.

Secondly, your best option is to file for an online divorce, which costs around $160. With this service, you may go on with your life more quickly than you anticipated since it finds the right mix between simplicity and affordability.


Understanding your plans and goals for ending your marriage is important when examining the divorce costs in California. Depending on whether you are willing to work together with your spouse, any necessary specialists will determine whether you are able to finish the divorce quickly or spend a lot of money on a protracted procedure. Further, we conclude the following:How much is a divorce in california what you need to know

  • In California, a divorce generally costs $17,500.The whole price tag can be between $5,500 and $38,000. The typical expense for couples without children is $17,100. Couples can request a fee waiver if they are unable to pay the filing fee.
  • For couples with kids, the average cost is $26,300. California divorce costs are 37% more expensive than the national average.
  • All assets acquired by the spouses throughout the marriage must be split equally. Conflicts about the ownership or value of assets can make the process take longer and cost more.
  • Without legal representation, divorce is still expensive. There is a $435–$450 initial court filing charge to get things started. Depending on the specifics of your case, your county court may impose extra costs.
  • In California, lawyers’ fees are rather expensive. Depending on where in California they operate, attorneys often charge between $300 and $950 per hour.

As we have analyzed different aspects of the cost involved in the divorce. We suggest a good way to save money is to do it yourself if you and your partner are ready to cooperate. Thus, analyze your situation and financial situation before starting the long divorce process.

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Divorce & Finance