The Average Cost of Divorce in California in 2024

Typical prices of divorce in California
Last Updated on April 2024

According to the survey, the average cost of a divorce in California is $17,500 if there are no kids involved and $26,000 if there are kids involved. Attorneys’ fees make up a large portion of the cost of divorce because the average hourly rate for attorneys in California is $300.

The average price of a divorce is quite a subjective thing that is based on many different factors. Depending on whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, whether there are children in your marriage or not, and the number of issues you cannot agree on, the cost of dissolution varies.

What Affects the Cost of Divorce?

The expense of divorce is one of the first things that worries the couples that have decided to end their marriage. It is not a secret that legal services in the United States are rather costly. However, did you know that divorce price in California can be decreased or increased pretty significantly based on several factors? Here are some of the most common ones.

Type of case

The kind of divorce you have decided to file for determines many aspects of the whole process, including the cost:

  • If neither you nor your spouse plan to contest the divorce, you can avoid hiring a lawyer and save thousands of dollars. In fact, all you need to cover in this case are divorce court fees which are around $435.
  • If one of you contests the divorce, things get more complicated. While you may not need to attend a hearing at all if you file for an uncontested divorce, filing for a contested one, you may visit dozens of them if you have serious disputes with your husband or wife.

First of all, you will have to work with a lawyer as long as it is needed to win the case. They will be giving you advice and defending your interests during the hearings. The more complex and serious your case is, the more time your attorney has to spend on it. As a result, you will have to cover huge fees since most lawyers charge per hour of their work.

Lawyer’s Involvement

No matter what type of divorce you choose, you can still hire a lawyer.

  • For an uncontested divorce, an attorney prepares the necessary paperwork and helps with filing. Taking into consideration the average attorney’s fee in California, which may be as high as $500, you may spend anywhere from $2,000 on a very simple case to around $6,000 on average. The overall cost depends on many factors, such lawyer’s level of experience or your location.
  • For a contested case, a lawyer’s assistance is a must. A legal professional will represent your interest in court and interview the witnesses, as well as various experts whose testimonies are important for the case outcome. Of course, all of these presuppose a long and expensive process since you will have to pay each expert involved.

Also, please note that many lawyers charge a retainer fee. This is the amount you pay upfront as a guarantee that the lawyer will take your case. The price is calculated by each attorney and may be non-refundable.

If your case is uncontested and you only want your attorney to help you with the paperwork, it will still amount to a few thousand dollars. However, you can lower the divorce paper cost by getting them completed for you online. Online divorce companies are much cheaper and work for a small flat fee. As long as you come to a full agreement with your spouse, you will be able to get divorce paperwork online for only $139.


Having a Children

Divorce when you have minor children is generally more expensive. When it is contested, there are many issues that a couple can argue in court: child support, custody, visitation schedule, and so on. Your lawyer will have to calculate the amount of child support, which takes a lot of time, as they have to get and analyze your financial information, custody preferences, etc. As a result, the total you spend on legal services will increase significantly.

In a lot of cases, it will be necessary to involve experts in custody discussions, which will make your divorce case even costlier. For example, you may need to hire a custody evaluator who assesses each parent’s willingness and ability to care for the child, as well as the child’s needs. Custody evaluation fees in the state may be as high as $50,000.

One more expert that can be involved in the case is the guardian ad litem, who takes part in court hearings, collects and reviews all child-related information, meets with parents, and overall advocates for the child’s best interests.

Couple’s Readiness To Cooperate

In general, the price of divorce will depend on how serious the case is and how difficult it is for a couple to settle. In court-settled disputes, you may be billed for different motions, filings, and other processes continuously, and the more any party stalls the decision-making, the pricier it will be for each of them.

Couples who cannot come to an agreement often resort to meditation. It is cheaper than getting a contested divorce with a lawyer and can lead to dispute settlement in the end. The price for mediation usually ranges from $4,000 to $8,000.

Assets and Property

It’s pretty straightforward: the more property you have, the costlier your divorce will be. If you have real estate, stocks, and so on, it will take a lot of time for assessors to evaluate them. If you cannot agree on an equal division of assets (please take into account that California is a community property state), you will have to cover lawyers’ fees after the long court battles.

How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost in California?

Spouses want to get an uncontested divorce

The cost of uncontested divorce in California is a factor that makes it a preferable option among US couples. The thing is that all you have to cover are the fees during filing, which is $435 in CA. There can be more fees, for example, for making copies of the documents, but they are generally minor in comparison.

In the end, the mutual divorce cost is usually around $500 if you do not involve any legal professionals in the process. The typical divorce cost in California is more than $15,000 when you work with a lawyer, so it is no surprise that many couples are willing to cooperate and avoid going a contested route.

However, doing everything on your own, even when your divorce is simple, is not an easy process. You will have to take care of divorce paperwork completely on your own and follow the proper legal process. If you have no legal background and need a fast and simple solution, our online service is always available for you at a flat fee of $139. It is more affordable than hiring a lawyer to help you fill out papers, and we will provide filing instructions, so you don’t miss the important steps.

How Much Does It Cost to File for Divorce in California?

Couple is filing for divorce in CA

In 2022, the cost to file for divorce in CA is approximately $435. You may also have to cover other California court filing fees depending on your case specifics, the documents you file, and the requests you make with the court. It’s best to visit the website of the court you plan to file in to find out the exact fees and means of paying them.

If you cannot afford to cover the filing fee for divorce in California, you may obtain a waiver. For this, you should fill in Request to Waive Court Fees and provide information about public aid you receive or your income being lower than the minimal state rate. If the court sees that you are unable to cover both fees and your household expenses, it may be waived as well, depending on the circumstances.

If you file a contested case, you will need legal representation one way or another. If you cannot afford to cover the legal cost of divorce, you can look for some legal aid societies in your city or county that can offer their service for a small fee or even for free. You can also contact your local court and ask for contacts of attorneys who can offer their consultations free of charge.

How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost in California?

Lawyer is counting own fees in CA

In general, California divorce lawyer cost ranges from $150 to $500 hourly in big cities or expensive counties. The price depends on several factors, which you need to determine more specifically to estimate your total spending. So, how expensive is it to get a divorce, and what does the price depend on?

Lawyer’s expertise

An experienced divorce attorney in California with an impeccable reputation and hundreds of successful cases may charge up to $500 per hour. But you can always search for a person who is newer to the field with not as many cases, as they usually charge less. Still, the price depends on how serious your dissolution case is. There are situations only a seasoned professional can handle successfully.


A cheap divorce in California can be obtained in small cities where attorney charge below the state average. When it comes to big cities and counties, the prices are usually higher since the demand there is higher as well. The most expensive cities in CA are San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose.

Number of issues to resolve

Since lawyers usually charge for their services by the hour, the more time you need to resolve your issues and spend in court, the more money you will need to pay. For example, if you have children in your marriage and cannot agree on the type of custody, you will need to pay more for a lawyer to help you settle or involve other people to do it. The same goes for the property and assets division. The more to divide, the more to pay unless you resolve the disputes with your spouse yourself.