How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California? (2024)

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Dec 16, 2022

If your marriage is ending, you likely have a lot of considerations going through your mind. One major concern for many people is the financial burden of seeking a divorce. There is a common understanding that divorce is expensive, and many people want to be prepared for the cost.

Although it is difficult to say exactly how much your divorce will cost, there are several factors that will contribute to the amount that you can expect to spend on the divorce process and the amount that you can expect to lose as collateral damage. Understanding these factors can help make divorce feel more approachable and allow you to navigate yours with an empowered mindset.

Attorney Fees

One major responsibility during divorce is paying attorney fees. Most attorneys charge between $3,000 and $5,000 for a retainer and between $200 and $250 for an hourly rate. Altogether, the average attorney cost for a divorce in California is $14,000.

Although this number seems staggering, it is important to understand how essential attorneys are during this process. You can easily lose out on key assets and get a small settlement if your spouse hires an attorney and you do not. Investing in an attorney offers the likelihood of a higher settlement and a more stable future.

It is important to note that mediation may be an option for your divorce. In mediation, you and your spouse work together to settle your divorce terms. This process requires only one attorney mediator to help facilitate the conversation and ensure that the terms are legal. This offers significant financial advantages to those who can communicate directly with their partner and make compromises without the help of a judge.

Asset Division

Although you do not necessarily pay for asset division, you do lose money during the process. During this phase of a divorce, you and your spouse must negotiate who will get which assets to keep. Generally, both spouses should get approximately half of all marital assets. However, there are often disputes surrounding asset division, and you can get less than your fair share if you are not careful.

You also may not get your half of the assets in cash. For example, you may get to keep the family home while your spouse gets the savings and checking accounts. The value of the assets you each get simply needs to be approximately equal.

Spousal Support

Divorce may result in spousal support, which is a monthly stipend payment that one spouse makes to the other after divorce. These payments help to ensure that both parties have reliable incomes after the divorce is final. This is often necessary when one spouse made most of the household money and the other spouse stayed home to care for children. The stay-at-home spouse may not be able to jump back into the workforce right away, and spousal support can help with that.

If the court decides that spousal support is appropriate in your situation, you may lose money through monthly payments to your ex-spouse. Usually, these payments have an end date. However, if you were married for 10 years or more, you may have to pay spousal support indefinitely.


Q: How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California in 2022?

A: The average cost of a divorce that does not involve children is $17,500, while divorcing with children costs around $26,300. This does not include money that you lose in asset division, spousal support, or child support. If you have a contested divorce, the cost may be much higher. If you use mediation for your divorce, the cost will likely be lower. The actual cost of your personal divorce depends on a myriad of unique factors.

Q: How Much Is a Divorce in California If Both Parties Agree?

A: If your divorce is uncontested, your divorce process may be relatively inexpensive. You will have to pay a filing fee of $435. However, if there are no negotiations or issues, you may not have to pay much more than this. It may be advantageous for you to have an attorney review your terms to ensure that they are legal. However, uncontested divorces are much less expensive than contested ones. This does not include any money lost due to asset division.

Q: Do All Divorces Go to Court?

A: No. Some divorces do not need to go through the court system, especially if both parties agree on the terms of the divorce. Mediation is also an option that does not necessarily require the couple to go through the court system. This can reduce the cost and time spent on the divorce. In some situations, you may need to go to court only to get the divorce finalized and approved, but the process is very short.

Q: How Much Does a Divorce Cost With a Prenup?

A: If you or your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement, the general process for divorce should be the same. Prenuptial agreements simply disqualify some assets from the asset division process. If anything, this may make the process easier, shorter, and therefore less expensive.

Prenuptial agreements usually need to be reviewed by a judge. In some situations, they have outdated or illegal terms that the judge may overrule. Getting a prenup approved often requires that you go to court.

Contact Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP

For many years, our team has been representing clients in the Irvine and Orange County areas. We understand that divorce is difficult, and our experience gives us the tools to make yours as efficient and painless as possible. We fight diligently for your rights and make sure that you understand all your options throughout the divorce process. We are here to support you and to give you approachable, understandable, compassionate legal advice during this challenging time.

No other Orange County law firm has the same level of experience as our team at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP. For the best divorce process, contact our family law divorce attorneys.

For more information, contact Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, online today.

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