The legal process of going through a divorce is never easy, especially when dealing with complicated issues and related expenses. Taking divorce action in California can be a difficult time with all the different types of paperwork to consider, and options to take with the court. This usually raises the question of whether those who are intimidated by the whole process should hire a divorce attorney to assist with divorce basics.

Now keep in mind the services of an accomplished divorce lawyer are not generally free. Free divorce attorney services are difficult to come by and are in high demand. This means that you might have to wait a long time for legal help if you want to go down that route. We are quite sure that an inexpensive, quick, and efficient divorce is your intended goal.

That is why there are other legal resources to achieve this and avoid major issues. Making use of a self-help book, working toward an uncontested divorce, or a legal document assistant service such as A People’s Choice can be equally effective alternatives for legal help with an acceptable divorce agreement. These methods are generally cheaper than experienced attorney fees and take away the stress of traversing unfamiliar ground.

Let’s dive into these methods to help with a smooth and successful divorce proceeding.

What Is the Average Retainer for a Divorce Attorney?

Achieving a divorce is never a cheap endeavor. Experienced family law attorneys can usually charge rates that can be anywhere between $150 to $600 per hour. The general cost of a divorce in California can be estimated at $25,000, but this is dependent on the parties, their marital situation, and what they wish to gain from this process.

Certainly experienced attorneys have different payment options, such as flat fees while others make use of retainers. A retainer fee is quite common with a family law attorney as they act as a down payment for their services. It acts as a rough estimate of the price to handle the case. Although, you can make use of other legal options.

Family Law Attorney vs. Divorce Attorney: What is the Difference?

Finding Free or Low-Cost Legal Help in California – Free Divorce Lawyer?

Free or low-cost services from an experienced divorce lawyer can be difficult to find in California since there are a lot of individuals in difficult financial circumstances who need attorneys but cannot afford them. There are some other services and organizations to make use of such as:

Court-Based Self-Help Services

All California superior courts offer some legal assistance to those who have not hired an attorney and are not represented. Due to the many types of services and information available relating to different legal issues, the California court’s website has created a self-help section dedicated to its various legal services.

Legal Aid Agencies and Non-Profit Groups

This is a non-profit organization that provides free assistance to those below a specific financial bracket. California has many legal aid offices located in various cities. Before a legal aid agency can assist you, you will need to qualify yourself by proving your financial neediness.

Due to the high volume of people looking for free legal service, your income needs to be quite low to qualify for assistance. Legal aid agencies can’t assist with all types of legal issues. They mainly assist with domestic violence, evictions, immigration, public benefits, employment issues, family law, and other cases that can negatively affect a person’s life. They wouldn’t be able to assist you with suing someone for damages to your vehicle, for example, unless you are filing a lawsuit with the small claims court.

If you need a lawyer but aren’t able to afford one due to financial circumstances, then it’s not a bad idea to speak with local legal aid offices. Just don’t be disappointed if they are unable to assist you. This can be for a variety of reasons.

Government Agencies

Various government agencies can offer legal assistance. If you go to the California court’s website you will find information about specific government agencies that can offer help with specific legal issues.

For example, if your divorce involves aspects of an agreement for child support, you will find a substantial amount of information regarding your local child support agency and how they can help you collect or pay child support for your children. These government pages can be found in your local telephone directory or online.

Lawyer Referral Services

Lawyer referral services help people find lawyers. They can inform you about free or low-cost services in your area for people who qualify. If you do not qualify for free assistance, they can give you information on other legal services that are relatively inexpensive.

For instance, they keep a listing of lawyers who will meet with you at least once to discuss an agreeable solution on your case. They charge very little for this, usually between $20 – $45. In some cases, this is enough to get you started by yourself.

The lawyer will explain what services they can offer, and how much they would charge for this. Some lawyers have lower prices for those who have financial issues. Some lawyers will assist you with the important components of your case and let you complete the rest.

Law Schools

Select law schools have free legal clinics that cater to different types of legal matters. Your local court or bar association will most likely be aware of these places and provide more information on them. You can also contact your nearest law school to find out.

Can Divorces in California Be Free?

A California divorce can be free if you meet the right requirements. Then there is no need for a divorce attorney to be involved and this saves time and money in the divorce process. To be able to achieve a successful divorce without an attorney you must meet the following:

  • Have a mutual agreement with your spouse on the division of assets and debt.
  • Have a mutual agreement with your spouse on child custody, child support payments, and alimony.
  • Have an amicable relationship with your domestic partner or spouse.

If these requirements aren’t met, then you can seek legal assistance through a lawyer or alternative method. In California, it is best when spouses choose to go for an uncontested divorce.

This is when both parties chose to work together to settle their differences utilizing a divorce settlement agreement. Simply put, if you and your spouse both come to an amicable solution and agree on the overall conditions of the divorce and the division of marital assets (both separate property and community property), then you can go through the divorce process without needing legal representation.

However, you will need to pay certain court fees which are unavoidable such as filing divorce documents, unless you cannot afford to do so.

What If I Can’t Afford a Divorce?

If you are in a difficult financial situation, there is a way to get a divorce without paying any court fees. The state of California offers the option for an indigent divorce or fee waiver. This allows an individual to file for divorce and request the court fees linked to the process be waived.

This effective strategy was established by California divorce law to assist those who seek a divorce but don’t have the financial means to obtain it. You will first need to go through the relevant process as any individual filing for divorce by obtaining divorce paperwork from a county clerk and filling out the relevant criteria.

You will then need to request the necessary forms for a fee waiver for the process to begin.

Once that is done you will need to provide financial evidence to the court that you are unable to pay for the necessary fees. After a hearing, your waiver may be approved or deferred depending on the circumstances of the marriage. If you require legal assistance for your divorce, then you can make use of your local city or state legal aid society.

These organizations have volunteer lawyer programs that offer affordable representation free of charge or at a low cost. If you are in a difficult financial situation they may represent you and file a fee waiver on your behalf.

You will still need to follow the procedures established by the California courts to have the relevant fees waived. This helps when leaving a marriage without having any funds.

Affordable Help Is Available

Getting a divorce in California doesn’t have to be a difficult situation if you know how to go about it the right way. You have the legal options of consulting with non-profit organizations and government agencies to provide as much legal assistance as possible, relevant to your case.

You can also request a fee waiver from your local county clerk so long as you follow the procedures set to have the waiver approved. Divorce lawyers can also offer effective strategies for free or at a lower cost if they are presented with the individual’s circumstances and legal needs.

The California courts website offers a wide variety of guidance through its self-help center, providing many of the basic documents needed to file for different types of divorce.

There is also a wide range of sites such as A People’s Choice, that can provide the necessary divorce paperwork you need to begin the process. We can assist you with filing for your divorce for a fraction of what it would cost you to pay a California divorce attorney.

Contact us today for the best legal guidance and combined legal experience for your divorce at a reasonable cost. Our legal team of document assistants will ensure that your needs are well catered to by providing the relevant forms, relevant to your current circumstances and what you want out of the divorce. Don’t hesitate, contact A People’s Choice today.

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Leigh A.

“I had the opportunity to use A People’s Choice again, Wow doesn’t say enough for the way the staff was able to get me in and out and all my answers answered. Very Professional, Organized and Friendly. I highly recommend!”

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“I want to personally thank the staff at A People’s Choice for making my divorce process so simple and painless . From my 1st contact in the office they were was warm and friendly and took the time to explain each step in a very simple and quick manner .Filing for a divorce can be a difficult and painful process and the staff was extremely professional and clear in all guidance and explanations. I highly recommend A People’s Choice.”

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Les A.

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