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2024 How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California?

The average cost of a divorce in California in 2020 was more than $14,200, accounting for attorney’s fees and filing costs. However, there are multiple ways to obtain a divorce, and every divorce has its unique financial requirements. Depending on the issues you face with property division, contested vs. uncontested divorces, and other legal issues, your divorce case may only be a few thousand dollars, or it may be a hundred thousand dollars. If you are facing a divorce, it’s important to understand what can affect the cost of divorce and what you can do to manage a cost-effective but well-resolved divorce.

Filing Fees in California

Regardless of the specifics of your divorce case, nearly every divorce requires a mandatory filing fee. In California, the fee is $435 to $450, and it is one of the highest filing fees in the country. In some cases, you can waive this fee. You can qualify for a fee waiver if your income is under a certain amount, if you receive public benefits, or if you can’t pay the fee and afford your basic needs. You may also have to pay fees to serve your spouse the divorce papers.

Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce Costs

Not all divorces have to be resolved at trial. Many separation agreements can be made through mediation, collaborative divorce, or other versions of an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is significantly less expensive than a contested divorce. The main aspects of any divorce, contested or uncontested, include:

  • Spousal support
  • Division of property
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Child support

An uncontested divorce occurs when couples agree on most aspects of a divorce, and they can create a separation agreement outside of court. Collaborative methods are used to negotiate the specifics, either by themselves or with the help of a mediator or other professionals. Couples getting an uncontested divorce must pay the filing fee and may pay mediator fees. Even though a mediation attorney could be expensive, it is still not as expensive as litigation.

When spouses cannot agree on the aspects of a divorce, they must have the court decide for them. A contested divorce may arise immediately or when uncontested divorce efforts fail. This process is much longer, provides less control for spouses, and is more expensive. Contested divorces involve court dates and can take many months or years to resolve.

In a contested divorce, a Divorce Attorney in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, is much more essential in defending your interests in court and helping speed up the process as much as possible. An attorney’s fees for a contested divorce are going to be much higher than fees for mediation.

What Impacts the Cost of Divorce?

Whether you are going through a contested or uncontested divorce, there are some factors that can lengthen the divorce process and make it more expensive. This includes:

  • Complex Property Division: If spouses have significant or complicated assets, a divorce will take longer. Marital property has to be valued before it can be divided, and valuation will be more difficult, and require more professionals, if there are many or expensive assets. Complex assets may include businesses, investments in companies, real estate, or large debts.
  • Marital Agreements: Often, marital agreements make the process of divorce more straightforward. However, if a marital agreement is not clear about what assets are marital and separate property, it may lead to further litigation.
  • Child Custody and Support: When spouses have children, divorce is always going to be more complicated, expensive, and often more contentious. Determining a parenting plan and financial support will lengthen proceedings, making it more expensive. If you have multiple children, this will make things more complicated.
  • Domestic Violence: Divorces involving domestic violence are usually handled through litigation. Proving accusations of domestic violence can take time and may affect child custody, spousal support, and other aspects of divorce.

FAQs About How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California

How Much Does It Cost to File a Divorce in California?

The filing fee to file for a divorce in California is $435 to $450. This is a required fee, but if you can’t afford it, you may apply for a waiver. The waiver will allow you to skip the filing fee if you receive public assistance benefits, have an income under a certain amount, or cannot afford the fee without putting yourself in financial hardship and being unable to meet your basic needs.

How Much Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in California?

Both spouses, regardless of gender, have equal rights to marital property and the potential right to spousal support. In California, marital property, or any property gained during a marriage, with some exceptions, is divided according to community property laws. If spouses do not have a marital agreement and cannot come to an agreement for property division, the court divides property under community property laws. Marital property is split equally between parties. The court will award spousal support to a spouse if that spouse has the financial need and the other spouse has the financial ability to pay.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get a Divorce in California?

The least expensive way to get a divorce is through an uncontested divorce. This occurs when both spouses can agree on all aspects of a divorce, including property division, spousal support, child custody, and more. Spouses create a separation agreement and submit it to the court. If the court determines that the agreement is fair, it will enter the agreement as a court order. An uncontested divorce avoids the costs and lengthy process of court dates and trial proceedings.

A summary dissolution is an even quicker and potentially less expensive way to get a divorce. However, a small percentage of couples qualify for summary dissolution, as it requires them to have no minor children, few or simple assets, and a marriage lasting less than 5 years, among other requirements.

Is Alimony Required in a Divorce in California?

No, alimony is not required in a divorce. The court will look at factors such as each spouse’s income, age, health, separate property value, and job skills when determining if spousal support payments are necessary. This will also determine the amount of each payment and how long they will last.

Finding the Ideal Legal Solution for Your Divorce

Each divorce comes with challenges, but an attorney can make your divorce quicker and less stressful. An experienced attorney from All American Law can manage legal deadlines, help you file key paperwork and documents, and manage negotiations between you and your spouse. Contact All American Law today to see how our attorneys can use their experience to aid your family’s interests.

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