Divorce can be very expensive – especially if you live in California.
The cost of an average California divorce is the highest in the country. California has some of the highest court filing fees, attorney’s fees, and other costs in the US. The best way to minimize those costs is to avoid litigation and settle outside of court.
Uncontested divorces are among the most cost-effective divorces because the parties save money that they would otherwise spend in court litigation if they were unable to reach an agreement. There are several types, but generally an uncontested divorce is where there are no issues that need to be resolved. A divorce is considered uncontested if the couple has created a written agreement addressing all important issues.
Contested cases are ones where the parties cannot reach an agreement on one or more major issues of the divorce. The average cost of a contested divorce with children in California is $26,300, including attorney’s fees, filing fees, and court costs. Divorces tend to take longer when the couple goes to trial, and the longest cases tend to be ones with children.
An attorney’s hourly rate largely depends on their experience level, but it usually falls between $100 and $500 per hour. It also depends on geographic location, with rates higher in metropolitan areas compared to more rural ones.
It is also important to consider the time and expense involved with going to court, like preparation and travel. In addition, consider the lost wages due to taking time off from work.
The total cost for mediation depends on how many issues need to be resolved, and the complexity of those issues. It also depends on whether the couple has children, and the level of cooperation between the spouses. Mediation services are usually billed on an hourly basis, with most mediators charging $100-$500 per hour. Add to that the hourly fees for your individual consulting mediation attorney’s services. Mediation centers may also charge case management fees. Typically, the final cost falls in the range of $2,500 to $10,000.
Typically, the collaborative law process is less expensive and shorter than litigation. Even if everything cannot be resolved during the collaborative sessions, the parties can go to court (albeit with new attorneys) with many issues already settled by agreement, leaving just the remaining issues to be determined in court.