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California Divorce Attorney Fee Calculator
Circumstances of Your Divorce
Legal Implications Affecting Total Cost
Minor children of the relationship?
This includes biological and/or adopted children.
Additional issues regarding child custody, visitation, and support may need to be resolved.
Do you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement?
This may save you time and money.
The agreement must be in writing. Verbal agreements are often dismissed in court.
Do you or your spouse own your own business or work as an independent contractor?
Ex: Sole proprietorship, LLC and S-Corp Owner, or 1099 worker.
Extensive discovery may need to occur to review all streams of income.
Do you or your spouse own real property together?
Real estate specialist may need to appraise the value of your property.
Both parties may be subject to capital gains and tax deductions.
Do you need spousal support or alimony?
What is the salary difference between the spouses?
Spousal support is based on a formula. The court may take other factors into consideration when granting a spousal support order. Alimony may be awarded for up to six years or more for long term marriages that end in divorce or legal separation. Alimony is based on many factors that is subject to a balancing test.
Are your assets greater than $1 million?
Both parties may need to consult with an attorney to best protect their financial interest.
Both parties could spend an extensive amount of time dividing assets.
Do you have secured and unsecured debts?
The court may divide debt in half between the parties unless the moving party can show the debt is a separate property.
Do you have retirement benefits (pension, 401 (k), 403 (b))?
You may need a QDRO to divide retirement accounts.
Fees range: $8000 - $10000
This tool provides an estimate amount only as to how much money you may or may not be required to pay an attorney in a contested divorce. Contact an attorney to discuss your contested divorce case in confidence.
Flat Fee Uncontested Divorce Service
Contact San Diego Esquire for more information about our flat fee uncontested divorce service. Our California licensed attorney will serve as your third party mediator to help you complete the divorce process in an affordable manner. Review our California Uncontested Divorce Services for more information.
California Uncontested Divorce Fees
An uncontested divorce is far less expensive than a contested divorce, but it still not free. In California, a couple filing for an uncontested divorce can still expect to pay filing fees, attorney fees, and possibly additional fees for experts.
When a spouse files for divorce in California, there is a $435 filing fee. This fee may be higher in some counties. The fee can be waived if a spouse meets low income requirements. Most counties have free self-help centers that can assist with the paperwork for initial filings and fee waivers.
Once the divorce petition is filed, the filing party will need to serve a copy on their spouse. Anyone who is over the age 18 can serve the petition on the spouse, but most people chose to hire a licensed process server to do this. Once the petition has been served, the responding spouse has 30 days to file a response. The fee to file a response is $435. If both spouses are in total agreement on all of the issues, the responding spouse does not need to file a response, but the court will require that he/she pay the $435 fee before the divorce can be finalized.
Temporary Request for Order
Typically, early in the divorce process, one spouse will file a Temporary Request for Order. Requests can include child custody and visitation arrangements, a request for child or spousal support while the divorce case is pending, and a request for attorney fees. The fee for each Temporary Request for Order is $90 is Orange County, and can vary from county to county and changes often. Like the initial petition, these requests must be served on the other party.
An uncontested divorce often involves negotiation between the spouses. Many times, the spouses will hire attorneys to assist them with the negotiation. The average divorce attorney in California charges $330/hour, but this will be closer to $400-$500/hour in high income cities like San Francisco. If the spouses are in general agreement on most of the terms, then an attorney will not likely spend a lot of time on the case. Divorce negotiations may require the use of an expert. Experts include private child custody evaluators, forensic accountants, and real estate appraisers. Even if the spouses agree on the property division, they will likely need an appraiser to determine a buy out price for a jointly owned house.
If the spouses cannot agree on all of the terms, they may opt for arbitration or mediation to resolve their differences. These services charge fees that range from a few thousand dollars to $9,000, depending on the complexity of the case. In contrast a couple can expect to pay $26,000 for a case that goes to trial. Once the spouses have reached a settlement agreement, they can submit it to the court. Once a judge approves the agreement, the divorce will become final.