How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California? 

Hossein Berenji, Nov 25, 2023

When you contemplate a divorce, a common concern is the cost of the divorce. If you ask a divorce attorney how much a divorce costs in California, you might not like the answer.

A divorce can cost a few thousand dollars or tens of thousands of dollars. The issues and factors of the case determine the cost of the divorce for the couple. Factors can significantly increase or decrease the cost of a divorce.

Some divorce costs are fixed. For example, you must pay required court fees even if you represent yourself in a divorce case. The initial filing fee for a petition for dissolution of marriage is $435.

Other fees may or may not apply in your case. It depends on you and your spouse and whether you can agree to the divorce terms.

What Factors Impact the Divorce Cost in California?

Factors that impact the cost of a divorce in California include, but are not limited to:

  • Working out a parenting plan and visitation schedule for child custody
  • Determining the character of assets to determine if they are subject to community property rules (i.e., separate property vs. marital property) for property division
  • Whether the parties agree on child support and spousal support obligations
  • Allocation and valuation of unique or complex assets, such as investment property, business interests, retirement funds, pensions, antiques, jewelry, artwork, vacation homes, etc.
  • Allegations of child abuse, domestic violence, or unfitness as a parent

The willingness of the parties to negotiate a fair divorce settlement can significantly decrease how much a divorce costs in California. The more time the couple spends arguing over the divorce details, the more expensive the divorce becomes.

Disputes in a divorce can increase the cost of attorneys’ fees. However, the disputes may also trigger other costs as the parties fight to “win” the divorce case. The parties may need to hire child custody evaluators, forensic accountants, private investigators, psychologists, and other experts to assist with the case. Doing this may be necessary, but it is also very costly.

The divorce is contested when spouses cannot agree on the divorce terms through private negotiations or mediation. Litigated divorces can be very costly. Working with an experienced divorce lawyer and Beverly Hills child custody attorney can improve the chance of settling to avoid divorce litigation.

Can I File for Divorce in California Without a Divorce Lawyer?

You might assume that a DIY divorce may save you money. However, you might realize too late that trying to save money by handling your divorce was a disastrous decision. The terms of your divorce can have long-term impacts on many areas of your life.

Some couples can file for divorce without a lawyer, especially if they qualify for a summary dissolution. Summary dissolutions are intended for simple divorces that do not involve child custody, alimony, or complex property division. The issues are simple and easy to decide.

Summary dissolution is available if the couple:

  • Has been married less than five years
  • Does not share any minor children and are not pregnant
  • Is willing to waive spousal support
  • Does not own or lease real estate
  • Owes less than $6,000, excluding car loans
  • Own less than $47,000 in marital assets and less than $47,000 in separate assets, excluding the value of any cars
  • Agrees on how to divide the marital property

All of the above factors must be true for the couple to petition for summary dissolution of marriage. If so, the parties might be able to represent themselves when filing for a summary dissolution of marriage. However, just because you can does not always mean it is a good idea. An experienced divorce attorney can make it easier for you to handle this process.

Why Should I Hire an Experienced California Divorce Lawyer?

You might wonder if spending the money to hire a divorce attorney is worth it. It depends on your situation. However, it is wise to consult with an attorney to discuss your situation and the possible problems that could arise during a divorce.

Experienced divorce lawyers offer many benefits, including:

  • Trusted legal advice based on what is in your best interest
  • Provide objective advice to help you focus on the long-term goals for your future
  • Explanations of California divorce laws and how they impact your divorce case
  • Assistance in protecting your parental rights and your children’s best interests
  • Help you identify your priorities and goals for the divorce
  • Develop a strategy for obtaining the outcome you desire
  • Preparing and filing all documents with the court to ensure they are accurate and complete
  • Investigate allegations of hidden assets
  • Deal with your spouse or domestic partner so you do not need to engage with them
  • Negotiate a fair divorce settlement

If you are unsure whether you need a divorce lawyer, the best thing to do is speak with one to gain experienced legal advice.

Contact a Beverly Hills Family Law Lawyer Today

If you’re going through a divorce, you need a strong team on your side fighting for your rights. Call Berenji & Associates today to know how we can assist you.

Beverly Hills Office
9595 Wilshire Blvd Ste 959
Beverly Hills CA 90212
(310) 271-6290

Los Angeles Office
550 S. Hill Street STE 1467
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 985-3007