There are a lot of emotions when you’re facing a divorce. Considering the cost of a divorce can add even more stress to what many couples are already dealing with — concerns regarding child custody, division of assets, alimony, and other concerning factors. While the potential costs of many of these things are unknown at the beginning of a divorce, it may be comforting to get an idea of what it costs to hire a lawyer to assist with divorce proceedings in California. It is important to realize, though, that hiring a qualified divorce lawyer is an investment in the outcome of the divorce — and the future of the parties involved, especially when children are included.
It is difficult to give an exact amount of what the average divorce lawyer costs. The cost of services for a divorce lawyer can vary and typically depend on various factors, including the experience level of the law firm, the type of divorce needed (e.g., contested or uncontested), the complexity, quantity, and types of issues present in the divorce, and other factors.
In contested divorce cases, the parties do not see eye to eye and disagree concerning the division of assets, child custody, and other items. Many attorneys charge per hour in these cases, so the final cost depends on the amount of time and the amount of work that will go into a case, which can vary greatly. The amount of time spent on a contested divorce depends on some volatile factors that can go either way in terms of taking little time or taking a lot of time. It usually depends on the other party’s reasonableness, as well as the adeptness and efficiency of the opposing counsel. If the opposing counsel is unable to facilitate their client to come to some sort of compromise, court proceedings can quickly become long and drawn out. However, if the representation can work to help the parties meet in the middle, a faster and cheaper divorce can be finalized.
Because no one can foresee the outcome of a contested divorce or how long it will take, divorce lawyers typically require clients to pay a retainer fee upfront. This is like a deposit that covers a certain number of hours of legal services. Whenever the retainer is exhausted, a bill to replenish the retainer will be sent accordingly. In some cases, a judge can award these fees paid by the other party if requested and warranted. If the final workload ends up being less than the retainer or replenished retainer amount, some lawyers will refund the overpayment, but some will not.
When consulting with a divorce lawyer, there should always be a straightforward explanation of fees and policies regarding retainers and final case expenses. In California, most individuals seeking divorce services for contested dissolution of marriage can expect to pay a retainer fee of between $5,000 and $15,000, though this is an estimate and not a definitive answer.
The fee to file for divorce is $435. To avoid having to pay this fee more than once, all forms and paperwork must be submitted correctly to avoid resubmission and payment of filing again. Because family court is very particular about forms and paperwork being filed properly and without error, many people opt to hire a divorce attorney to file the paperwork for them to avoid the possibility of error.
If you cannot afford to file for divorce, you can request a fee waiver. There are also various ways to obtain fees to pay an attorney if you cannot afford one. Under “Family Code 2030”, if one party cannot afford to pay for a divorce, and the other party can, the court can award the fees to be paid by the other party on a proper showing.
Deciding to hire a divorce attorney in Anaheim, CA is often a hard decision to make, but it is ideal to obtain professional legal counsel in these proceedings. Hiring a lawyer at the beginning of a divorce can end up saving money in the long run. Contested divorce cases go a lot smoother when a competent and qualified divorce lawyer is navigating the way. It is recommended that parties facing divorce shop around until they find a divorce lawyer that fits their budget instead of opting to go it alone.
California has the highest average cost of divorce than any other state, with a typical cost of $17,500 for a divorce without kids and $26,300 for a divorce with kids. In Southern California, particularly in Orange County, the average costs for a divorce are much higher. While state filing fees are relatively low, the cost of attorneys in a contested divorce is what drives up the price, especially when parties cannot agree on issues. The longer it takes to work through the issues involved in a divorce, the higher the cost will essentially be.
While a divorce attorney in Anaheim, CA, usually comes at a high price, Moranda Law Firm, APC, is a budget-conscious family law firm that understands money is tight. Being a small law firm without a lot of overhead costs allows us to provide more affordable services to families. We are devoted to our clients, and we understand that families have financial limitations, so providing cost-effective legal counsel is at the top of our priorities. Contact Moranda Law Firm, APC, to schedule a consultation today.