How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California?

Navigating the complexities of divorce can carry a significant emotional and mental toll. As you contemplate the route you’d like to take for your divorce, understanding the costs associated with each option is crucial. From filing fees to asset division, these costs can add up. The knowledge an experienced California divorce lawyer can provide will help you understand what your costs will likely be.

California Divorce Laws

Before we dive into the costs of a California divorce, it is important to know what the requirements are to get a divorce. California is a no-fault state. This means that you are not allowed to claim that your spouse was responsible in some way for the divorce and one spouse cannot prevent the divorce from occurring.

Most divorces in California are classified as “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for the split. This essentially means that you and your spouse have no believable chance to repair the marriage. You also have the option to divorce based on your spouse being unable to make decisions legally.

How Much Does a Divorce Attorney Cost in California?

A large factor in the cost of a divorce is whether you use the assistance of an attorney or not. In a recent study, more than seven out of every ten divorcees hired a lawyer for help.

In this same study, it was reported that in California, the average cost of a full-scope attorney for a divorce was $12,500-15,300. The average cost per hour for a full-scope attorney is $300-350. A full-scope attorney will handle every aspect of the divorce for you from start to finish. Some things a divorce attorney does include:

  • Providing legal counsel, helping you understand the law and your rights
  • Being your representative by advocating for you in negotiations, mediations, and court proceedings
  • Preparing all necessary legal documents
  • Facilitate mediation, if necessary
  • Offer guidance and emotional support through any uncertainties

The Cost of a DIY Divorce

It is possible to go through divorce proceedings on your own. You can also complete all the necessary documentation online, if desired. If you decide to represent yourself, you must adhere to California law and local family court rules. You must also complete all necessary forms, serve your spouse, reach a divorce settlement, and settle the divorce.

In order to save time and energy, you can file an online divorce. This option will guide you through the paperwork and let you know how to file it. The cost of an online divorce ranges between $150 and $750. 

Other Divorce Fees

Filing for divorce comes with a filing fee. As of 2024, the filing fee in California is $435. If you qualify and cannot afford the filing fees, you can apply for a fee waiver.

If your divorce is more complex, it can include other fees, such as child custody evaluations, mediation costs, and fees for field specialists (such as investigators or property evaluators). In California, the average for these additional costs is $2,000. 

Main Contributors to Divorce Costs

Some of the main contributors to the cost of divorce are the issues that a married couple must resolve. These main issues are child custody, alimony, and division of assets. These issues take time to resolve. Your lawyer will have to spend time gathering necessary evidence and documentation, as well as any other necessities for court. Witnesses may have to be brought in, and motions will have to be filed.

In addition to this, the more issues that need to be resolved, the more time that will be spent in court trying to resolve them. A study was conducted to calculate the average cost of divorce based on the number of contested issues that must be resolved before a divorce can be finalized. The results were as follows:

  • If there were no contested issues, the average cost for a divorce in California was $4,500-5,500.
  • If there was one issue, but it was resolved before a trial, the average cost was $6,500-8,000.
  • Divorces that had two issues but did not go to court cost $11,500-14,000.
  • Divorces that go to court range from $15,500 up to $26,000, depending on the number of issues to be resolved.


Q: How Much Does the Average Divorce Cost in California?

A: The average divorce costs between $12,500 and $15,300 with a full-scope attorney. A full-scope attorney will handle all legal matters for you from start to finish. The average cost for expenses outside attorney fees is $2,000. If you choose to get a divorce without an attorney, the cost will be lower.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Divorce Lawyer in California?

A: On average, a divorce lawyer will charge $300-365 an hour in California. The total average cost for a full-scope attorney is between $12,500 and $15,300. The full-scope attorney will handle all aspects of your case from start to finish. They will provide you with legal counsel and fight for your rights.

Q: Who Pays for a Divorce in California?

A: In California, both spouses typically share the cost of a divorce. However, the way these costs are divided can vary based on circumstances and any agreements reached by the spouses. In some cases, one spouse may be required to pay the other’s attorney fees or provide financial support during divorce proceedings. Ultimately, the court determines the financial responsibility, which can be based on assets, financial needs, and income.

Q: Can My Spouse Force Me to Pay the Fees for Their Divorce Attorney in California?

A: It is possible for a spouse to request that the other spouse pay for their attorney fees in California. This request is typically made by a motion filed through the court. The decision to award attorney fees is at the discretion of the judge. If the court finds that one spouse has the ability to pay and it would be appropriate for them to do so, they may order them to pay those fees.

Contact a California Divorce Attorney Today

Navigating divorce proceedings requires guidance and support. If you are going through a divorce or know someone who is, contact Moranda Law Firm, APC, today.

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