How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California

How Much Does a Divorce Cost
in California

When it comes to divorce, intimate partners try to study all aspects before taking the appropriate steps. This article will look at the main characteristics of marriage dissolution in California and its cost.

The Average Cost of Divorce

The average cost of a divorce without children in California is $17,500, while a divorce with kids is about $26,300. However, these figures are only approximate. Without knowing all the circumstances of your case, it is difficult to predict the exact final cost of your breakup.

Disputes between spouses, the presence of minor children, the type of divorce, the services of lawyers, and legal fees affect the cost of a divorce.

For example, a breakup with disputed issues such as the division of property, spousal maintenance, child custody, and child support will cost much more than a divorce where spouses reach a Settlement Agreement independently. In addition, the presence of enormous family assets and debts also complicates the divorce process and affects its length.

In general, the services of lawyers make up the bulk of divorce expenses. Typically, legal experts work with paperwork, provide legal advice, and represent their clients in court.

However, now, divorcing couples can cut the cost of their divorce in half or even more. They must be willing to cooperate and use available support services to do so. For example, California Online Divorce will help spouses prepare the court-required divorce papers for only $139.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is a dissolution process where both parties agree with all divorce terms and have no claims against each other. Simply put, the spouses have reached a fair settlement on child custody, child support, property division, and alimony.

An uncontested divorce in California is much faster and cheaper than a traditional divorce. The average cost of an amicable divorce is $4,100.

The court does not need additional hearings to decide on each item in an uncontested divorce. Under the most favorable conditions, divorcing spouses may receive a final judgment immediately after the mandatory waiting period.

However, to obtain an uncontested divorce, spouses must comply with several state requirements.

  • California residency requirements

In California, at least one spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months before filing. Also, one of the spouses must have lived for more than three months in the county where the petitioner wants to apply for divorce.

  • Both spouses’ desire to divorce

Spouses should be willing and able to sign all required legal forms to obtain a California dissolution of marriage. The desire must be mutual.

  • Settlement Agreement

An essential condition for obtaining an uncontested divorce is reconciling all divorce issues out of court. The spouses need to resolve any disagreements that may arise when the judge makes the final decision.

If the spouses have minor disagreements and want to get an amicable divorce, they can use mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party helps the partners reach an agreement on all contentious issues and sign a Settlement Agreement out of court.

The mediator that assists in negotiations is usually a former judge or attorney. The average cost of mediation services in California is around $5,000. However, the price varies depending on the number of controversial issues.

Divorce Costs without a Lawyer

In an uncontested divorce, spouses may forgo hiring a lawyer to handle their case. According to Nolo’s survey, this solution will save them $13,800.

Spouses may refuse the services of divorce lawyers if they:

  • both mutually seek to divorce,
  • want to do paperwork on their own,
  • are ready to represent and defend their interests in court,
  • do not have significant disagreements that make their case contested, and
  • do not have a lot of shared marital property, assets, and debts.

How Much is DIY Divorce

An uncontested divorce allows spouses to have a do-it-yourself divorce. DIY divorce means that the spouses are responsible for their marriage dissolution from start to the end. Simply put, they refuse the services of an attorney entirely.

DIY divorce costs less than an uncontested divorce since the partners do not spend money on lawyers. However, the cost of such a divorce is at least $435 (the filing fee payment).

In addition to the filing fee, spouses may have to pay:

  • A sheriff to serve the divorce petition on the respondent;
  • A fee to complete a co-parenting class, if necessary;
  • Copy fees for obtaining the divorce judgment.

If the petitioner has a low income, they may file for a payment waiver. They just need to complete the Request to Waive Court Fees form and submit it to the county clerk.

A divorcing spouse should not consider a DIY divorce if:

  • they have a contested case;
  • have many family assets, including debts; and
  • one of the spouses does not want to divorce.

A DIY divorce suits spouses if they:

  • have the time and desire to run their divorce;
  • agree on all marriage and divorce-related matters.

However, even when having a DIY divorce, the spouses do not need to refuse outside help. For example, divorcing partners can use mediation to resolve minor disputes or online divorce companies such as California Online Divorce for quick and high-quality preparation of divorce filings.

Using additional specialized tools can help couples get their divorce done without the hassle and overspending. However, you should use only proven and trusted resources.

Contested Divorce Cost

A contested divorce is a challenging and lengthy way to end a marriage in California. The longer the litigation goes on, the greater the final cost.

A contested divorce means that the spouses have disagreements, and the court’s intervention is required to resolve them. For example, the most common disputes are with the parenting plan and separate and community property.

As mentioned, the average cost of a divorce is between $15,500 and $26,000. However, this amount is not final. The more disputes the judge needs to resolve, the more the spouses will have to pay.

This amount includes family law attorneys’ payments, legal fees, and related costs necessary to resolve the case. In addition to financial expenses, spouses will spend time, effort, and nerves. After all, a contested divorce is not a walk along the coast on a summer day.

The court will consider the case contested if:

  • one of the spouses is against the divorce and complains about the other spouse;
  • spouses have significant family assets and debts that can not be divided independently;
  • spouses can not compromise on at least one marriage-related issue.

Divorce Lawyer Cost

A contested divorce requires the participation of lawyers as representatives of the parties involved. They can take care of all the work, from preparing court-required forms and filing them to running the trial.

Lawyers in California charge $330 per hour on average. However, the price may be higher or lower depending on their qualifications and experience.

Attorneys often ask their clients for a large retainer of several thousand dollars before they start working. It serves as a guarantee that the client can pay for their services. However, people with a low income can turn to low-cost or free lawyers for help.

Divorce lawyers may have a flat fee for a specific type of service or an hourly rate. Some attorneys use a flat fee to provide limited-scope representation. It allows divorcing couples to save on legal charges as they control what services they need.

Another way to save a lot on attorney fees is to hire a paralegal to handle small errands, such as preparing and filing divorce papers.

It will also be helpful if the spouses do not use lawyers as psychotherapists. They are unlikely to help them psychologically, but attorneys will bill for the time anyways.

Divorce Online in California

Online divorce is a convenient and affordable tool for preparing divorce papers in a matter of days. Online platforms help spouses generate court-required forms no matter where they are. Moreover, some online divorce companies provide additional services, such as filing and serving.

Spouses can use online divorce to support an uncontested and DIY divorce. Even if partners have hired a lawyer, they can still use California Online Divorce to save on legal paperwork expenses.

For only $139, California Online Divorce will help spouses select and fill out forms under their case circumstances following the latest requirements of the California courts. Partners only need to:

  • have an uncontested divorce,
  • sign-in on the site,
  • complete a marriage and divorce-related questionnaire,
  • double-check the correctness of the entered data,
  • confirm the information.

When all the steps are completed, the couple will receive ready-to-sign papers within two business days. In addition, California Online Divorce provides a free detailed guide for filing without a lawyer.

Welcome to your online California divorce guide
Qualify for divorce1
Provide your case details2
Get your papers3
File for divorce4