Medford, NY asked in Divorce for California

Q: How much does a divorce cost in california?

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4 Lawyer Answers

Gary D. Sparks

  • Walnut Creek, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: This is a complicated question to answer. The Court filing fees are easy... the "first paper" filing fee in California's superior courts is $395. After that, motions and most other court fees range from $20 - $60 or so. Attorney fees are another matter.

On average, we have found that the typical cost for attorney fees for a divorce is between $15,000 - $20,000 per person. There are a lot of factors that go into that cost -- the amount of conflict, whether there are children, how many times you have to go to court to resolve disputes, complex legal issues, etc. Under the traditional model, a family law attorney generally charges an initial deposit (sometimes called a "retainer") of around $4000 - $6000, against which the attorney bills between $300 - $350/hour. Once the deposited funds are down to about $1000, most attorney request a renewal of the deposited funds. And that cycle repeats itself over and over again.

However, there are family law attorneys who charge "flat rate" or "fixed fees" for their services. Each attorney does it differently. For example, in my own practice, I charge a flat rate ($6,000 - $9,500) based on the size of the community estate that needs to be divided and whether or not there are any family businesses or professional practices to divide. The flat rate is all a client will ever pay; provided we can settle the case out of court without the need for litigation. If we have to go to court, then an additional fee will apply.

In any case, it makes sense to call around and consult with several different attorneys -- not only to discuss pricing and costs, but also to get a feel for whether you and the attorney will be compatible working together on your case.

This answer is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship between the party posing the question and the attorney who responds.

1 user found this answer helpful

Mr. David Thomas Pisarra

  • Santa Monica, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Simple divorces, where there are no children and there is no property to divide can be as inexpensive at a few hundred dollars. As divorces get more complex with children, homes, businesses the costs will increase. Costs are also very dependent on the fighting between the parties.

Couples who are fighting a lot, will incur much larger bills than those who are in agreement on most things.

Thomas Huguenor

  • La Jolla, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: As I see it, it takes two to marry but only one to terminate the marriage via divorce. Then, in a divorce, it only takes one to cause the case to be contested. In Family Court, divorce cases are resolve either by the parties via mutual agreement (uncontested case) or by the court in making findings and ruling (orders) in a contested case. Typically Family Law attorneys charge by the hour. At my office we try to charge a retainer payment that assumes the case will be uncontested and we try to create a plan for the case that causes the case to settle by mutual agreement so that the case can be resolved with less work and charge to the client. If the case becomes a “contested case” then it is hard to predict the ultimate cost. The best we can do here, is to describe the options to the client so that the client can have some control over the costs.

Ute Ferdig

  • Newcastle, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Love is grant and divorce is 10 grant. No, seriously, a divorce can be as little as $0 to the sky is the limit. It's $0 if you prepare all the documents yourself and qualify for a fee waiver. It can be tens of thousands $$ if even just one of the parties fights about everything. I would highly recommend mediation if at all possible. Not only is mediation a lot cheaper than litigation, but it's also faster than dragging the case through the court system and parties who reach an agreement are more likely to abide by the agreement than those who had the judge make the decision for them.

1 user found this answer helpful

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