When people think about divorce, massive expenses often come to mind. While a contentious divorce can be costly, a straightforward divorce doesn't have to be that way. Most spouses will stand by their decision to get a divorce regardless of cost but need to know what to expect financially to make plans for the future.
Every divorce in California is unique and will cost various amounts depending on the assets. However, the cost of filing for a divorce is somewhat predictable – such as basic court fees.
For some couples, the fear of divorce expense keeps them unhappily married. However, a better understanding of the legal fees and expenses associated with divorce will give you an idea of how much your divorce will likely cost.
To file for a divorce in California, you must follow the court process. It starts with spouses working together to decide what terms they can agree on by themselves or through mediation.
If spouses can agree on divorce terms without going to trial, they will save money on standard court costs. If just one spouse files for divorce – rather than both – it will save some money. Discuss your concerns with an experienced divorce attorney if you are considering divorce.
To better understand the fee involved in getting a divorce, our California divorce lawyers provide an over below.
Fees Associated with California Divorce
If you are moving forward with a divorce, there are several categories of expenses that you need to take into consideration, including:
- Court filing and administrative fees
- Attorney fees
- Fees for professional services (if your divorce involves high assets or a complication such as business ownership)
Court Filing and Administrative Fees
The court filing and administrative fees for divorce are not astronomical, but they can add up. The court and administrative expenses for a California divorce are listed under the Superior Court of California civil fee schedule. It should be noted that the fees are the same in all counties and are designed to pay the cost of maintaining court records.
These fees start with the first paper fee, which refers to your and your spouse's first filing. If, for example, your spouse files for divorce, that first paper will cost him or her $435, and your response will cost you the same amount. There could be additional fees for any motions or copies of records, and the prices could change annually.
You might qualify for a fee waiver if you are low-income – receive public benefits – or if the filing fee cost is too expensive. To apply for a fee waiver, you must submit an FW-001 form – request to waive court fees.
After filing your first papers, you'll be charged a $60 fee for each subsequent motion. So, for example, if you need temporary spousal support in the divorce interim (between filing for divorce and having your divorce finalized), filing that motion will cost you $60.
Finally, filing a stipulation and order with the court costs $20. A stipulation and order refer to those issues that you and your divorcing spouse can come to terms with between themselves and that the court would not be able to address. These fees are separate from any attorney costs your divorce lawyer charges.
Divorce Attorney Fees
Divorce lawyers typically require a retainer and then charge an hourly rate that varies depending on experience. Most lawyers with vast experience will generally charge more, but they are usually more qualified to handle your divorce most effectively. Many spouses ask if they can force their spouse to pay their attorney's fees.
The cost of a California divorce always includes required court and administrative fees, but other prices will vary from case to case. While you are well-advised to consult with an experienced divorce attorney if you are moving forward with a divorce, this doesn't mean that your attorney fees will break the bank.
The more decisions you and your divorcing spouse can make between yourselves, the less you'll need to spend on attorney fees.
Divorce is never fun, easy, or simple. Still, if you both recognize that you have similar goals – sticking to the basics, keeping costs down, and making compromises that neither of you is going to particularly love – it can help you hammer out some critical decisions that will move your divorce forward without racking up exorbitant attorney fees.
Nevertheless, it is essential to recognize that if your divorce involves complicated financials, it probably isn't in your best interest to compromise for expediency alone. Your rights matter, and your divorce's outcome will significantly affect your and your children's futures.
Fees for Professional Services
If your financials are relatively straightforward, it's unlikely that you'll need to consider fees for professional services. If, on the other hand, your divorce is financially complicated, it's a different matter.
If yours is a high-asset divorce, you'll want to ensure you receive the amount you're entitled to. The greater the wealth, the easier it is to hide assets, obfuscate, and worse.
This isn't to say that your soon-to-be ex is attempting to cheat you, but complicated financials are complicated. The relative expense of paying for expert forensic valuation services is outweighed by the peace of mind that comes from knowing your rights were well protected throughout the divorce process.
Owning a business can also complicate your financials. Often, small-business owners allow their personal and business financials to comingle. Unfortunately, this means it's necessary to disentangle the two before obtaining an accurate valuation.
In such situations, it's important not to let your desire to keep your divorce quick and cheap get in the way of your good judgment. Nevertheless, complicated financials warrant a closer look.
Experienced Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer
Divorce can be costly, but it doesn't have to be. Our dedicated legal team serves the greater Los Angeles and is committed to keeping your costs down while protecting your rights throughout the divorce process.
Our experienced divorce and family law attorneys will carefully consider your circumstances to maximize your relative return. In other words, if your divorce is straightforward and you and your divorcing spouse are committed to collaborating, your legal fees will be minimal.
If, on the other hand, your financials are complicated, it's very likely worth an investment in more complete legal services. If you would like to schedule a free consultation, please don't hesitate to contact or call us to review your divorce and options.