Cost of Divorce

January 31, 2024 | By Doppelt and Forney
Cost of Divorce

Even before you face the financial challenges that life after divorce will present, you may need to add another new expense to your budget: the cost of getting the divorce in the first place. The cost of a divorce can vary dramatically depending on the direction that the proceedings take.

If you have questions about divorce and its attendant costs, the San Diego divorce lawyers at Doppelt & Forney can provide you with a free in-person or virtual consultation on the legal aspects of a divorce, including helping you determine what your divorce will cost.

We offer cost-effective legal advice, assistance, and representation in divorce, child custody, child and spousal support, and other family law matters to clients throughout the greater San Diego metropolitan area, including in the communities of Chula Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, La Jolla, Point Loma, Coronado, Del Mar, Ramona, El Cajon, and La Mesa.

Getting a Realistic Idea of What Divorce Costs

If you were to ask a random cross-section of people how much a divorce would cost, you would probably hear everything from “You can do it for free” to “It will cost you an arm and a leg!” The answer, of course, is somewhere in between for most people.

According to information compiled by a leading legal research firm, the expenses associated with divorce amount to, on average, $17,500 per couple in California. The typical range is anywhere between $5,500 and $38,000. Also, because of the additional issues involved, divorces involving minor children are generally more expensive.

Why such a large variation? There are many factors that can make a divorce more or less expensive. At a minimum, even when the parties are able to work out all of the details of their divorce themselves, it will require the payment of fees to the courts for filing divorce papers, filing various motions, copying and sharing documents, making child custody evaluations, and so on. In many cases, the fees and costs can exceed $2,000 or more, just by themselves.

Additional costs can come as a result of either the complexity of the couple’s financial arrangements or the degree to which the couple can reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce. (Other legal factors that can incur costs and fees may also come into play, such as if there are allegations of abuse.) Generally speaking, the fewer the financial entanglements of the couple, and the more that the spouses are able to successfully and satisfactorily negotiate the terms on their own, the less that their divorce will cost.

While some couples can formulate their own settlement, in most cases, there will be some need for mediation, negotiation, or outside consultation to address contested matters. These matters can include:

  • Determining the character of various assets (whether separate or community property, or a combination of both);
  • Valuation and allocation of various assets and debts (such as businesses and companies, houses and mortgages, vehicles, joint investments, personal property, pensions, retirements funds, credit card balances, etc.);
  • Working out child custody and visitation terms; and
  • Determining the amount and terms of spousal support.

The court fees and consulting fees for any of these services will all add to the cost of a divorce.

Even when both parties are able to work out all of the terms of their divorce, many opt to have an attorney review and draft their agreement. Most California family law attorneys charge by the hour, but rates differ from firm to firm.

When the parties are unable to negotiate many of their own terms, and the divorce becomes contentious or leads to litigation, the costs can escalate quite dramatically for both parties as court costs and legal fees accumulate.

Contact Doppelt & Forney to Pursue a Cost-Effective Divorce

Going through a divorce can be very chaotic, but one of the ways in which you can help yourself is by gaining a thorough understanding of what is involved in bringing your divorce to a satisfactory conclusion, including taking a measure of the costs that may need to be taken into account in your particular circumstances.

If you would like a free, no-obligation virtual consultation on your divorce, including the costs that you are likely to incur, contact one of the divorce lawyers at Doppelt & Forney at 800-769-4748 or online to set up an appointment.