Do I Need to Hire a California Uncontested Divorce Lawyer ?

My spouse and I are going through an amicable separation. Do I need to hire an attorney to get an uncontested divorce? Maybe. There are several reasons to hire a divorce attorney even if your divorce is completely amicable. Starting with the first step in the process of obtaining a divorce, an attorney can make the process simpler and less stressful.

Preparing a Separation Agreement

Before filing for a divorce, it is important for the parties to set out in writing their understanding of how their marital property will be divided, make arrangements for child custody and spousal support, and how retirement accounts, pensions, and other assets will be divided. The more comprehensive the agreement is, the less likely it will be that the parties will end up in court later due to a misunderstanding.  A California divorce lawyer will be able to draft an agreement that covers all of the important issues reducing the chances of future litigation.

Filing for Divorce in California

Filing for divorce in California involves correctly completing and submitting several forms. For example, both parties must complete a Property Declaration Form, even if the divorce is uncontested and they have agreed on the division of marital property in a written settlement. If there are minor children, a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Act must be filed with the court. Failing to properly complete these forms will lead to delays, and may cause disagreements that could turn a simple, uncontested divorce into something much more difficult. If the process seems daunting, an attorney can make it faster and easier.

Cost Considerations

You may download the necessary forms for no cost from the official court website here. The filing fee for an uncontested divorce is $435 (this fee changes annually). It is easy to look at the list of forms and become discouraged, however, online software programs are available, and will make the process somewhat easier. You can expect to pay between $800 and $1600 to file for divorce yourself using online software. The fees you would expect to pay for an attorney to file for you will vary. If you do not have children, and your marital assets are limited, the attorney’s fee for an uncontested divorce will probably be less than $3000. If you do have children, and/or if there are pensions, real estate, or significantly greater marital assets, the fee could be as high as $4000. For a contested divorce, your attorney will charge you an hourly rate, but will expect an initial retainer of at least $7,500. The final fee will probably be much higher, and the process could take many months or even years to complete.

Final Considerations

You may save some money in the short term by doing an uncontested divorce on your own. You may find, however, that seeking legal advice before you file will save you money and aggravation in the future.

SD Esquire Flat Fee Divorce Service

SD Esquire provides flat fee uncontested divorce services. We will prepare the legal documents you need to file for and complete your divorce.  This includes preparing and filling your divorce petition, completing your financial disclsoures, and drafting your marital settlement agreement (MSA). Our uncontested flat fee divorce service starts at $1500 for standard divorce (you are responsible for paying court filling fees).  The fee also includes service of process fees. You can make installment payments as your case progresses. It costs $500 to start your matter. Sign up today to get started.

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