How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?California is one of the most expensive states in which to get divorced. On average, couples spend somewhere around $15,000 to $20,000 on their divorce if they do not have children. If the couple has children, the cost of divorce may increase by $5,000 to $10,000. These fees include things like filing fees to submit documents to the court, attorney fees, and other expenses. To receive a general estimate of how much your divorce might cost, contact a San Diego divorce lawyer.

What Costs Are Involved in Divorce?

Every divorce is different, which means that every divorce costs a different amount. The most common expenses for divorces include things like:

  • Attorney Fees: It can be tempting to try to file divorce paperwork yourself, but if you don’t have legal know-how, you’re risking time-consuming and costly errors. A good divorce attorney can make sure you are represented fairly during the divorce process by calculating financial information correctly, negotiating with the other party, and supporting you in the event that your case must go to trial.
  • Filing Fees: In California, it costs $435 to file the initial petition to start the divorce process. Many individuals must file other forms related to child support and other issues, which can increase this initial fee.
  • Child Custody: If you are debating which parent(s) should receive custody or visitation rights for the children, outside investigations often must be done, which can add costs. The cost also increases if you need a witness experienced in a certain subject area to testify on your behalf during a divorce case.

Attorney Fees

In divorce cases, attorneys typically charge an hourly rate. This means that the more time they have to spend on your case, the more money it will cost you in the long run. However, if your situation is complicated, it can be valuable for an attorney to spend more time on your case. Attempting to represent yourself could result in an unfavorable divorce outcome, which could ultimately be financially harmful.

What Affects the Cost of a Divorce?

Many factors can affect the overall cost of a divorce. Consider the following factors when estimating the cost of your divorce:

  • Spousal Relations: If your spouse is generally willing to work with you to make the divorce process go as smoothly as possible, this is considered an uncontested divorce. This can reduce the likelihood that you will need to go to court and limit the amount of time you spend in court, which can lower costs. Conversely, a spouse who disagrees on elements of the divorce can make the process cost much more.
  • Dispute Resolution: Going to court is typically the most expensive option for a divorce. However, it is not the only option. Collaborative divorce or mediation can be effective alternative strategies to reduce the cost of a divorce.
  • Complicated Financial Situations: Generally speaking, the more assets a couple obtained during the marriage, the longer it will take to evenly divide them. Things like property, retirement accounts, and other financial assets can be difficult to split, taking more time and effort from a legal professional. If each spouse had significantly different levels of income, then spousal support might need to be calculated as well.
  • Minor Children: If the couple still has children who are under 18, they must determine who gets custody and who is responsible for taking care of the children’s needs after the divorce. This usually requires a parenting plan and additional calculations for child support. Issues with child custody, visitation, and child support are often contentious and might need to go to court in order to be fully resolved.

Finalizing Your Divorce


Q: What Is the Average Cost of a Divorce Lawyer in California?

A: In California, the average cost of a divorce lawyer is anywhere between $200 and $500 per hour. In larger cities like San Diego, hourly rates usually trend upwards. Many divorce attorneys also use what is called a retainer fee to bill for the case. In this situation, an individual pays an upfront fee, and the attorney puts it into a retainer fund. When they work on the case, they bill the retainer instead of constantly sending bills to the client. This can result in a much larger upfront cost.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Get an Amicable Divorce in CA?

A: Amicable divorces, typically referred to as uncontested divorces, typically cost less than contested divorces in CA and across the US. This is because there is less of a likelihood that individuals need to go to court, and when they do, they are in court for shorter amounts of time. If you forego a lawyer, your divorce will cost much less, but going it alone can be difficult and risky.

Q: How Long Does a Divorce Take in CA?

A: Divorces in California must take at least six months due to state law, but many divorces take significantly longer than this to finalize, especially if there are children involved or if the divorce is contested. Complicating factors can result in divorces taking up to a year or longer. Typically, divorces that must go to court take longer than divorces that can be resolved through mediation, arbitration, or other alternative dispute resolutions.

Q: Is Everything Split 50–50 in a Divorce in California?

A: Many things are split 50-50 in a California divorce, but not everything. California has laws that make property acquired during a marriage communal. This means that any property that people obtained while they were married will likely be split as close to equally as possible. However, if property was acquired before or after the marriage, this is usually treated as separate property and remains fully owned by the person who obtained it.

Protect Your Interests

The cost of an attorney for divorce might seem expensive upfront, but their services can save you both time and money in the future. To learn more about how a divorce attorney might improve your situation, schedule a consultation with Bickford Blado & Botros today.



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