2024 How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California?

Sharman L. Brooks

No one enters a marriage expecting a divorce, but this eventually becomes a reality for many residents across California. The process can be emotionally and financially draining, leaving parting couples feeling overwhelmed with the number of unforeseen legal responsibilities and costs they must face. By better understanding the divorce cost in California, you and your ex-spouse can better plan for the financial implications.

Filing Fees

One of the first costs a divorcing couple will face is filing fees. This is to secure the divorce petition. The current price for a filing fee in California is between $435-$450, which can vary based on what county you are filing in. These funds are necessary to cover the administrative costs of processing all the divorce paperwork.

If any amendments or additional filings are necessary, these will incur separate fees. You will want to discuss all of these details with your divorce lawyer to ensure you can properly budget for each step of your divorce.

Attorney Fees

The largest portion of your divorce budget will likely be spent on attorney fees. These costs can sometimes overwhelm clients to the point where they are tempted to represent themselves. However, the losses you could incur from representing yourself and leaving money on the table can outweigh an investment in an attorney who can secure a more favorable outcome.

If your attorney charges by the hour, there are many different factors that will play into the final cost of their services. For example, the longer an attorney has been in practice and has earned name recognition in the community, the higher their hourly cost will be. Attorneys who are closer to a larger city will also likely be more expensive than their rural counterparts. The state of California requires a fee agreement between a lawyer and their client to be written down when it totals $1,000 or more.

Mediation Costs

If you and your ex-spouse want to try to resolve matters through mediation sessions, these are additional costs to consider. Many couples enjoy this alternative resolution method because it can save them costs by resolving contentious issues on their own. The current rate for a mediator in California can range anywhere from $200 – $1,000 per hour.

The only risk of paying for mediation services is if you and your partner are unable to resolve all issues within the sessions. If there are any contentious issues still lingering, you will be forced to advance your case to court and also incur those additional expenses. This is why only couples who feel confident they can communicate their desires and resolve conflicts together should consider mediation.

Court Costs

Once a divorce case advances to court, there are additional costs to consider. For example, any case that lasts over four hours to reach a resolution could face court reporter fees of around $870 per day in some courts. There could also be expenses incurred to obtain credible evidence to prove your position, like paying for expert witnesses such as a forensic accountant or a child psychologist.

Aside from these larger expenses, smaller costs can also add up, such as parking fees for court appearances, postage when mailing documents, and any other travel expenses incurred if you need to attend court in a different county. It’s important to plan for these minor expenses to avoid being shocked by the final cost of your divorce.


Q: How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in California?

A: It takes at least six months to get divorced in California. There is a six-month waiting period from when divorce papers are served before the couple can legally separate. In addition, many different factors can influence the speed of your divorce.

Straightforward divorces where couples largely agree on most issues will be resolved much faster than couples who need court intervention to make final decisions. Some unresolved issues could take years to resolve, like disputes over property or child custody.

Q: What Is the Five-Year Rule for Divorce in California?

A: The “five-year rule” in California is also referred to as a summary dissolution. It provides a path for those who have been married for less than five years to have a faster and less expensive divorce. To qualify, you cannot have children, must own little to no property, and cannot be looking to obtain a formal spousal support arrangement. If any of these conditions are not satisfied, the couple will not be able to receive these benefits.

Q: What Is the Cheapest Way to File for Divorce in California?

A: The cheapest divorces in California are uncontested divorces. These occur when both spouses agree on all terms of their divorce, such as dividing personal assets and managing child custody. Managing discussions in mediation sessions rather than in the courtroom can significantly cut down on costs. If costs are of concern, share your budget with your attorney for advice on how to navigate the process without incurring unnecessary expenses.

Q: How Can an Attorney Help Speed Up the Divorce Process in California?

A: An attorney can speed up the divorce process in California in many ways. One of the largest risks of generating unnecessary expenses in a divorce case is not having an attorney supervising the entire process.

A divorce attorney will make sure all paperwork is filled out accurately and is submitted on time. They will facilitate all negotiations and leverage their legal wisdom to resolve contested issues much faster than the average layperson could. All of this can help avoid unnecessary case delays to reach a faster and cheaper resolution.

Contact Newport Family Law & Mediation Group Today

If you are about to start the divorce process and are looking for the most cost-effective path to reach a resolution, connect with the divorce lawyers at Newport Family Law & Mediation Group today. We have spent years representing clients in their California divorce cases. This gives us a competitive edge to help navigate the complexities of divorce on your behalf as effectively as possible.

Whether you need to access affordable mediation services or a seasoned attorney in the courtroom, contact us today to begin the process. Together, we can help you take the first step toward a fresh new start.

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