2024 How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost in California?

2024 How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost in California?

May 07, 2023

Choosing to divorce your spouse is a major decision that will affect every area of your life, especially your finances. The higher cost of living in California translates to a more expensive divorce compared to the national average. Changing from a home supported by two adults to a home supported by one can be a terrifying prospect, and even more so when you consider how much it may cost to get a divorce. The overall cost of your divorce and your budget should be considered in the steps you take as you move forward.

Fees Pertaining to a Divorce

The filing fee is one of the few fees that are mandatory when requesting a divorce. Regardless of the type of divorce you are seeking, you must pay the non-refundable filing fee when the divorce petition is filed (unless you qualify for a fee waiver). This fee is about $435, and both the petitioner and respondent are responsible for paying it separately. Other fees that may apply to your divorce include:

  • Counseling and mediation
  • Court costs
  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Co-parenting lessons
  • Property appraisal fees
  • Business valuator fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Appeal of a divorce decree

There are also many lesser-known costs that can still add up to a considerable sum. When choosing your home after your divorce, you will likely need to refinance or move, both of which have associated costs. You will also lose the tax benefits of filing jointly and potentially health insurance if you are on your spouse’s plan.

Types of Divorce

The type of divorce that you and your spouse end up having will significantly affect the overall cost. There are several types of divorce:

    • Uncontested Divorce
      An uncontested divorce occurs when the parties can resolve all divorce issues between themselves. In situations where you and your spouse agree on every part of your divorce, and evenly split your marital assets, you can expect your divorce to cost much less than the divorce of spouses that cannot reach any decisions. Although legal counsel is still recommended even in uncontested divorces, these fees will be much lower because you will require less of the family law attorney’s time.
    • Collaborative Divorce
      Spouses with minor issues may be able to work with a neutral third party who can help foster a cooperative environment between the two parties in a collaborative divorce. There are mediators skilled in communication techniques who can assist in this process, as well as divorce attorneys. These collaborative divorces will generally take longer and cost more than uncontested divorces, but less than uncontested ones.

      • Contested Divorce
        Contested divorces, however, arise when the spouses are unable to reach decisions about their divorce. It can drag out for years and cost thousands of dollars to finalize. These spouses require more time with their attorney and more court appearances, significantly increasing the cost of their divorce. Solving your divorce through litigation is the most expensive and time-consuming way to end your marriage.

Total Cost of a Divorce

The national average to get a divorce is around $15,000, but the average cost for a divorce in California is $17,500. These averages increase if the couple has children. There are many factors wrapped into this cost, including:

      • The type of divorce you choose
      • The hourly costs of the attorney you employ
      • The value of your marital assets

Depending on these factors, it is possible for your divorce to cost much less or tens of thousands of dollars more.


Q: How Long Will a Divorce in California Take?

A: The longer a divorce takes to finalize, the more it will cost, so it is understandable to want to finish it as quickly as possible. There are many factors that will affect the length of your divorce process, and it is possible that it will take years for all the issues to be resolved. The fastest divorce can be resolved in six months, as California has instituted a mandatory six-month waiting period after the petition has been filed.

Q: Will My Spouse Be Required to Pay Child Support?

A: There are specific guidelines in place to determine who will be required to pay child support and how much those payments should be. There are circumstances where the judge can alter the mandated payments to be different than the amount determined by the formula. These determinations will be made after the custody agreement is in place, as the amount of time the child spends with each parent will affect child support payments.

Q: How Does Alimony or Spousal Support Work in California?

A: During a marriage, one spouse may have foregone employment to care for the children and/or maintain the home, or there may be a severe income disparity between the spouses. Alimony was created for situations like these: to help support the lower-earning spouse after the marriage until they can support themselves. A judge will examine your circumstances and determine if either spouse is eligible for spousal support.

Q: Do I Need a Southern California Divorce Lawyer?

A: There is no legal requirement to hire a divorce attorney when you are separated from your spouse, so you may be tempted to approach the process without one. The cost of not having an attorney could be severe, however, as they help ensure you leave your marriage with everything you have rights to. You must compare the potential losses from getting a divorce without a divorce attorney with the cost of hiring one.

Working With a Divorce Attorney

For many people, the determining factor in whether they speak with an attorney during their divorce is cost. The upfront costs can seem prohibitive, but they may become less so when you consider the value of marital assets that you could lose if you do not have the skills of a divorce lawyer to fall back on.

The Edgar & Dow has helped Southern Californians through their divorces for over a decade, so we are deeply familiar with the conflicts our neighbor’s experience. In response, we crafted solutions that can help you quickly resolve your divorce, reducing the overall cost and duration. We also offer payment plans, financing, and alternative fee arrangements to help you better access our high-level legal representation. For more information, contact the Edgar & Dow today.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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