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How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California?

Couples who are intending to divorce often dread the massive expenses that the process entails. The cost of divorce can be even more intimidating now, as it seems like everything costs more than it ever did. The cost of living across the country has increased, and California is no exception. However, a California divorce lawyer can help you determine how much you will have to pay for a divorce, but it is also important to speak with them about the price of their own services.

California is the fourth most expensive state to live in, with a cost of living that is 42% higher than the national average. Therefore, it can be very useful to know the factors that can influence the costs involved in a California divorce.

Factors That Affect the Cost of Divorce

Divorce can be very expensive. Depending on various factors, ending a marriage can get even more costly for some couples. These include:

Other issues that can impact the cost of divorce and/or the cost of a California divorce lawyer are explained below.


Like housing in California, the cost of legal representation varies depending on the area. For instance, in cities that have a higher cost of living, legal services will cost more than they do in cities where the cost of living is lower and vice versa.

Uncontested vs. Contested

An uncontested divorce is the cheapest type of divorce, even with the cost of a California divorce lawyer included, because it requires less time, no courtroom litigation, and very little, if any, mediation or negotiation. If you happen to have a prenup, the divorce process can be even more efficient.

The Cost of an Attorney and What They Are Required to Do

The cost of a contested divorce, on the other hand, can get increasingly more expensive as it goes on. Prolonged divorce cases can involve more attorney fees, as your attorney must spend more hours preparing for hearings and arguing your case in litigation.

Other expenses can mount as well, like the need for a professional accountant to discover hidden assets, a real estate appraiser, or a mediator to help the two parties come to an agreement on issues like property division, custody, visitation, and alimony.

The Cost of Court Fees for a CA Divorce

California is the most expensive state to file for divorce. The actual cost to file for divorce in a California court is $435. This is only the filing fee, and it does not include the cost of a California divorce lawyer or any of the involved court processes. Some individuals attempt to file for divorce without professional legal services. While it is possible in theory, it can be very difficult to properly navigate the court proceedings to get a judge to grant a divorce.

Incorrect paperwork can cost time and money if it requires refiling, and each refile resets the six-month waiting period. The safest way to divorce in California is to hire an experienced divorce attorney. A seasoned lawyer can ensure that the process is carried out properly while protecting your rights and assets.

FAQs About Divorce Cost in California

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Divorce Lawyer in California?

The cost of a divorce attorney in California depends on the complexity of the case, the location, and other factors. The state average is estimated to cost anywhere from $11,000 to $17,000. Your attorney can help you determine the total amount that you are likely to spend on your divorce.

Is Everything Split 50/50 in a Divorce in California?

Yes, California is a shared property state and upholds the 50/50 law, also known as the community property law. This means that assets and debts acquired during a marriage are equally owned by both parties involved in a divorce in the eyes of the court. However, the actual assets that each party receives in a divorce may not be identical.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Divorce If Both Parties Agree in CA?

It is difficult to assign a value to the cost of an uncontested divorce because, even though both parties agree, there are still factors that can affect the final cost, such as location, especially as it concerns attorney fees. Nonetheless, most people can expect to pay about $1,500 for an uncontested divorce.

Who Pays for a Divorce in California?

In most situations, parties pay for their own legal fees because they will both need their own lawyers if litigation is required. However, in some divorces, one spouse will request that the other party be responsible for paying their legal fees. If the other spouse has significantly more income or earnings potential, the court may grant these types of requests on a case-by-case basis.

Hiring a California Divorce Lawyer

If you have questions about getting a divorce in California, Hayes Family Law can answer them and help you understand the laws that will affect your divorce. Alternatively, if you’ve been served with divorce papers, we can explain what these documents mean and what your next step should be. We are committed to providing concierge legal services and strive to offer a customized legal strategy for every client we represent.

The cost of a divorce attorney is minimal compared to the tradeoff that could potentially result without one. If you feel like you should secure legal representation in the wake of a divorce, then you probably should. At the very least, you should talk to an attorney about your case. Contact Hayes Family Law to request a consultation and learn more about how a California divorce lawyer can be of assistance to you during this difficult time for your family.

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