How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California?

How much does a divorce cost in California?  On average, a divorce in California costs $17,100 if there are no children and $26,300 if there are children.  This is higher than the national average.  Attorney fees account for approximately 79% of the cost.  Other expenses include filing fees and hiring experts, such as appraisers or child custody evaluators.  The average cost for a divorce attorney is $330 per hour.  In the larger cities with higher incomes, such as Los Angeles or San Francisco, a divorce attorney will likely charge $400-$500 per hour.  You can save thousands of dollars by hiring San Diego Esquire to process your divorce.  (sign up below).

The answer to how much does a divorce cost in California depends on a number of factors, and it is possible that a couple could obtain a divorce for a few hundred dollars.  If a couple has no children and little or no assets, they may opt to represent themselves.  One spouse needs to file for divorce with the court, which incurs a filing fee.  The filing fee can be waived for lower income couples.  If the couple can work out a marital settlement agreement with each other, they can file it with the court, and that is the end of the proceeding.  This may be the cheapest way to obtain a divorce, but does mean that one or both spouses must invest a significant amount of time learning the divorce process.  This may be an unrealistic prospect, and a divorcing spouse may want to hire an attorney for a limited scope.  A spouse can hire an attorney to prepare and file the petition for divorce.  He/she can also hire an attorney to prepare or review a settlement agreement.  Some attorneys will charge a flat fee of a few hundred dollars for these services.  A lawyer-free divorce or using a lawyer for limited scope representation, may be the cheapest way to obtain a divorce, but is not ideal if the couple has a fair amount of property or debts, or if there are children involved.

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As you can see, divorces are expensive, but there are ways to minimize the cost.  Spouses can agree to go through mediation, where a neutral mediator, usually a retired attorney or judge, will work out a settlement that is fair to both parties.  Mediation can be done with or without an attorney.  Mediation can cost as much as $9,000, but that figure is much less than $26,000.  Another way to minimize the cost of a divorce is settle the case quickly.  The longer a divorce drags on, the more expensive it gets.  A spouse can reduce the cost of a divorce by only contacting an attorney when it is absolutely necessary.  Another way to significantly reduce the cost of a divorce proceeding is to have a prenuptial agreement.  In a prenuptial agreement, the couple will have already agreed on most of the issues that arise in a divorce proceeding.

How much does a divorce cost in California?  While you can minimize the cost of a divorce, it will probably be expensive.

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California Divorce Quick Start Guide by Kym Morris, Esq.
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