When a couple decides to get divorced, the potential cost of the process is often at the top of every pre-divorce checklist. This is especially true for couples getting divorced in California—a state with one of the highest costs of living in America.
So, what is the cost of divorce in California? That depends on whether you and your spouse agree on factors like alimony, child support, custody, and property division. Disagreements about any of these things can stall the process and drive up the cost. It also depends on whether you hire divorce attorneys or choose to use a legal document assistant. The latter is significantly cheaper than the former.
Considering all these factors, let’s take a look at the average cost of a divorce in California and what variables can affect the cost. We’ll also discuss an affordable alternative for couples going through an uncontested divorce.
The Average Cost of Divorce in California
A divorce in California costs anywhere from $8,400 to $17,500. The exact cost will largely depend on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested:
- Contested – This is when you and your spouse are unable to agree to the terms and need a judge to help you to sort it out. Contested divorces often need the help of a divorce attorney.
- Uncontested – This is when you and your spouse are in agreement with the terms and want to end your marriage amicably. An uncontested divorce is always cheaper and faster than a contested one.
The biggest difference between the two is the waiting period for the process to become finalized. Both have a mandatory waiting period, but uncontested divorces usually go through within months, while contested divorces can take years.
Couples with disputes often need to hire family law attorneys to negotiate the terms for them, but legal representation isn’t cheap. Assuming a rate of $300-plus per hour, the average divorce attorney fees in California can be anywhere from $12,500 to $15,300. The attorney may also charge you additional fees for copying and sharing documents, as well as compensation for witnesses, appraisers, and financial analysts.
On the other hand, couples who want an uncontested divorce without disputes don’t really need to involve divorce attorneys. You can simply pay the $435 filing fee to your county court and hire a legal document assistant to fill out all the required legal documents for you. This option can save you and your soon-to-be ex thousands of dollars.
What Factors Affect Divorce Costs in California?
Many different factors affect the average cost of divorce in California. Here are some of them:
- Children – For a parent, child custody and child support for minor children can be a sensitive subject. Disputes over custody or fights over support orders can significantly drive up the cost and slow down the process.
- Spousal support – Alimony can lead to long negotiations, especially if one spouse disagrees with how much the working spouse should give in support.
- Division of property – California is a community property state. That means couples must split marital assets 50/50. Arguments over ownership or the value of particular assets can prolong the process and make it much more expensive. Assets owned before marriage (i.e. separate property) are exempt.
Resolving all of the above disputes may require a mediator. But with the high fees attorneys charge, it’s really no surprise that a lot of couples opt to separate but remain legally married. In fact, California has among the lowest divorced population in the U.S. at 9.2%. It’s the 5th lowest out of all the states in America!
An Affordable Approach to Divorce in California
The dissolution of marriage can understandably be an emotional quagmire. It doesn’t help that you and your spouse may end up forking out $17,500 just to get it over with. The biggest chunk of that amount will go to attorney fees. Lawyers are useful in some cases, but they aren’t always needed, especially if your divorce is uncontested!
Don’t let the legal system intimidate you. A People’s Choice can make the entire process fast, easy, and stress-free. Our legal document assistants will handle all the details of the dissolution. With our help, the entire process can be efficient and affordable—so you can focus on beginning the next chapter of your life. Call us at 800-747-2780!
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