2024 How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California?

2024 How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California?

If you’re curious about how much a divorce costs in California, you are likely near or past the point of separation and are wondering how your finances will be affected by making things final. Although the monetary cost could be smaller than you might anticipate depending on the factors of your situation, typically, there are significant financial, emotional, and mental costs involved.

In addition to the expenses, you’ll also need to spend time filing the paperwork, possibly negotiating on terms, and potentially making the trip to court. When going through a divorce, enlist the help of a skilled Carlsbad, California divorce attorney to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California?

The average cost of a divorce in California is around $17,000. The cost of any divorce depends on the factors involved, such as any contested issues, significant assets held in the marriage, the length of the process, and the type of process.

Divorce fees by themselves are relatively low when compared with those of other states. However, total costs increase when you and your spouse disagree on one or more significant decisions. The longer it takes to agree, the more the divorce can cost.

When calculating the cost of a divorce, consider the essential factors:

  • Filing fees
  • Contested issues
  • Attorney fees
  • Mediation fees

Separation vs. Divorce

The main difference between separation and divorce is that with a legal separation, you stay married, so the separation can be reversed by the court. In separation and divorce, unless agreed upon by both parties, the court divides your assets and liabilities. In addition, the court also determines any support payments, as well as child custody and support.

While some believe that a separation might cost less than a divorce, this is usually not true. Surprisingly, it costs the same amount to file any necessary paperwork for a separation or a divorce: around $450. The steps to become legally separated and divorced are extremely similar. Both involve the same forms and the same instructions but require different boxes to be checked.

What Is a Contested Divorce?

In contested divorces, the parties need a judge to intervene and resolve issues. Common issues are:

  • Support Payments (or Spousal Support): Payment for the support of one spouse or former spouse by another
  • Child Custody: The right to make consequential decisions about a child’s life and to have the child in one’s care
  • Child Support: Payment for the reasonable needs of the parent’s child
  • Division of Property: Property accumulated during marriage is divided between spouses.

The length of a divorce can depend on the number of contested issues and the time it takes for parties to agree. Contested issues significantly impact the cost of a divorce, as agreements made outside of the court system can cost nothing or significantly less.

In uncontested divorces, the spouses have agreed on all central points of the divorce, saving time and money.

Should I Hire an Attorney?

In any divorce, it’s wise to hire an attorney. Even if your divorce is uncontested, your lawyer can ensure that your interests are protected and that your divorce agreement is fair and can be approved by a judge. Although attorneys have costs, hiring one can be more cost-effective than losing money because of a costly mistake.

Here are some signs that make hiring a lawyer particularly crucial:

  • You have minor children and can’t agree on custody or support.
  • You have a history of substance abuse or domestic violence within the marriage.
  • You don’t understand your finances or don’t trust your spouse’s information about your finances.
  • You cannot file the divorce paperwork.

If any of these circumstances apply, it makes sense to hire an attorney so that you can get the help you need. Many people also need assistance to create a settlement agreement or understand the elements of the divorce process, such as service and wait-time requirements or child support amounts. If any meaningful part of the divorce seems too demanding to do alone, proper legal representation can help alleviate much of the stress involved.

Handling a divorce yourself is possible, but it is not recommended. It is only wise to handle the process alone if there is little to nothing at stake.


Q: How Much Is a Simple Divorce in California?

A: The cost of a simple divorce, also known as an uncontested divorce, can be as low as what it will take to file the necessary paperwork. In California, this is around $435 to $450. Remember that this expense only applies to the forms filed for the divorce.

If you and your spouse have any contested issues regarding splitting assets or child support, you will incur more costs.

Q: Who Pays Divorce Fees in California?

A: Who pays the divorce fees in California depends on the situation. While some may argue that the parties should split the costs evenly, this rarely happens.

Sometimes, when one spouse files an Income and Expense Declaration form, the court may mandate that the other spouse pay all attorney fees. These situations also require the requesting spouse to file a declaration that verifies the income, assets, age and health, debts, and earning capacity of both spouses, as well as the duration of the marriage.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to File a Divorce Response in California?

A: Filing a divorce response in California costs $435 to $450, but you can ask the court for a waiver if you cannot afford the fee. You qualify for a fee waiver if you receive public benefits, have a low enough household income, or cannot meet your household’s needs if you pay the filing fee.

Q: How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in California?

A: Getting a divorce in California takes a minimum of six months. The six-month timeline is applicable to uncontested divorces, in which both parties agree to get divorced and on all other aspects, including splitting assets and child custody. While some divorces begin and end uncontested, most start contested and take more than six months to finalize.

The process of divorce can be complex and seem unmanageable at times. While some attempt to get divorced alone, most hire an attorney after it becomes more complicated than they had previously imagined. A divorce can affect the rest of your life, so make sure you have qualified legal support. If you are ready to begin your divorce, contact Erica Bloom Law for a consultation today.

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