How Much Does a Divorce Cost In CA?

Goldberg Jones Divorce, Finances Leave a Comment

This is one of the most common questions we here. Often people are frustrated when we answer, “That depends”, but it does. Unfortunately, divorce can be a complex issue with a plethora of factors that will drastically affect the cost—making it difficult to estimate the final expense.

Average Cost of Divorce In CA

The average cost of a divorce in California is $17,500. As a comparison, the average cost in Washington is $13,400, and in Oregon it is $12,700.

All cases will incur an initial filing fee. In San Diego this costs $435 and additional motions will run close to $60.

This ballpark range is strictly an estimate; significant assets, children and how contested the divorce is will all add to the expense.  In complex divorces that are highly contentious, it is possible for the cost of divorce to exceed $100,000.

While those numbers can be intimidating, you do have some control over how much a divorce will cost. The more issues that you are able to reach an agreement with your spouse, the less expensive the divorce will be. Negotiating an agreement often requires the suspension of emotions and relying on a logical approach for dividing assets, debts and parenting time.

All too often, we see parties blinded by emotions spend thousands of dollars to “win” a piece of property that could have been replaced for a couple of hundred bucks.

There are some costs that are incurred in almost every divorce and others that are required only under special circumstances.

Costs of Common Experts in a Contested Divorce Proceeding

The cost of a complex divorce will be impacted by the necessity of experts. Many cases don’t require experts, but for those that do, it can be an expensive proposition. Here is a list of the common experts required in a divorce and an estimate of the cost for their services.

  • Vocational Evaluation $1,500
  • Custodial Evaluation $2,500 to $7,000
  • Minor’s Counsel $2,000 to $5,000
  • Forensic Accountant $5,000
  • Special Master $2,500 to $5,000
  • Home appraiser $350
  • Personal Property Appraiser for collectibles, art, etc. $100+ per hour 
  • Computer expert for data recovery and discovery $75+ per hour
  • Court Reporters and transcripts $0 to $2,500
  • Process server $75 to $400
  • Private investigator $300 to $3,500
  • Mediator $150+ per hour
  • Financial Planner or accountant $60+ per hour

Divorce isn’t cheap and the consequences of trying to save a little money now can sometime cost you more down the road. With many divorces you only get one shot to create an agreement that you will have to live with for many years.

Issues like spousal support can rarely be modified; and child support and custody arrangements are challenging to modify once the parenting plan has been finalized.

The best way to reduce the cost of your divorce is to educate yourself on your rights and understand what to expect from the divorce process.

Actual Case Files: Uncontested Vs. Contested Divorce

Related Reading: Mediation Versus Arbitration
Related Reading: Divorce Discovery Tools

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