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Divorce Filing Fees In California

Breaking Down The Cost Of Divorce

2 Court Fees Required With Uncontested Divorce In California

You cant keep down the cost of your divorce without first knowing what the costs are. This is especially important, considering how widely the arc of our divorce cost pendulum can swing.

For example, in California, you can technically get a bare bones divorce for nothing more than a filing fee of $435 . Realistically, however, itll probably be a lot more, with some divorces easily racking up more than $50,000 for the same breakup.

The first step to curbing these numbers is knowing where the costs are coming from.

In general, there are four main areas that will keep you up sweating dollar signs at night:

  • Your attorneys initial retainer.
  • Your attorneys billable rate.
  • Paperwork filing fees.
  • Heres a quick peek at how each of these break down.

    S Of Obtaining A Divorce

    The court system allows couples a great deal of flexibility in selecting how to navigate through their divorce. The goal with each method is to create a settlement that accurately reflects their wishes. Each method comes with a different cost basis. Self-representation and summary dissolution are the least expensive, while methods involving legal professionals cost more.

    Methods available include:

    • Mediation or Arbitration

    Financial Aid During A Divorce In Orange County

    If you do not think you can afford to pay the filing fee for a divorce in Orange County, find out if you qualify for a fee waiver. The county courts might waive the $435 filing fee if your income is low enough. You might qualify if you are currently receiving CalFresh, Medi-Cal, CalWorks or another type of public benefit. If your household income before taxes is less than the amount in item 5b of Form FW-001 or if the courts agree that you do not have enough money to pay the filing fee and your households basic needs, you may also qualify for a fee waiver.

    Ask for a fee waiver by filling out and submitting Form FW-001 to the Orange County civil court. The California Courts website has instructions to help you properly fill out the form. Sign the form, make a copy for your records and turn it in to the county clerk. The courts will review your request and let you know whether you qualify for a fee waiver. If so, you will not have to pay the $435 filing fee. Note that it is against the law to lie on Form FW-001, under penalty of perjury. Fee waivers expire 60 days after the resolution of your case.

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    Work With The Court To Finalize Your Divorce

    After the paperwork is filed, you will have one or more court dates to finalize the divorce. It is important for you to attend these hearings. If you and your spouse agree on the terms of a divorce, you can expect a fast divorce in California.

    You and your spouse can write up the terms of your agreement, complete final divorce forms, and submit them to the court. On the other hand, if you disagree on divorce terms, your spouse may contest the divorce.

    You can try mediation services to try to reach an agreement, but if you cannot agree, the judge will decide the terms of your divorce in a trial.

    Is The Divorce Contested

    Forms To File For Legal Separation In California : This Is A California ...

    In a contested divorce, spouses do not agree on matters contained in their divorce and need the court to hear evidence and rule on some or all of the following:

    Contested divorces require more paperwork, more time in court and are more contentious than uncontested divorces. They are also more expensive.

    Uncontested divorces, which do not require court intervention, are faster and cost less than contested divorces. To have an uncontested divorce, the spouses must agree on every issue in their divorce.

    Some uncontested California divorces are eligible for a summary dissolution of marriage. This is the simplest means of filing a divorce in California. In a summary dissolution, the spouses file a joint petition and response for divorce.

    In a summary dissolution, all divorce matters must be agreed upon, and:

    • The spouses must be married less than five years
    • There can be no minor children of the marriage
    • There must be limited assets and debts and
    • The spouses must agree to and sign a spousal support waiver.

    Read Also: How To Get Divorce Papers

    Negotiation And Divorce Mediation

    The first step is for you and your spouse to negotiate the terms of the divorce. This can be done on your own or with the help of a mediator. If youre able to agree at this stage, you dont need to go to trial! This can save you a lot of money. Having only one party file also saves money compared to both parties filing the divorce petition.

    If youre going through mediation on your own, its best to know your legal rights in a divorce case. Grab a free copy of our book Divorce Essentials for answers to your divorce concerns.

    When Should I Pay An Attorney To Handle Something

    You are right to assume that divorce costs will increase if you hire a lawyer. However, sometimes paying for a lawyer’s help is more cost-effective than leaving money on the table during your divorce or making a costly mistake.

    Here are signs that you should seek an attorney’s help:

    • You don’t trust that your spouse will be honest and forthcoming about finances.
    • You have minor children and don’t agree on parenting time or child support.
    • You get confused by or don’t entirely understand the divorce self-help paperwork.
    • There is a history of domestic violence or substance abuse in your marriage.
    • You don’t have a clear understanding of your finances.
    • You are worried about being able to financially support yourself after the divorce.

    Additionally, handling a divorce by yourself is no easy task. Many people find that they need an attorney’s help with divorce issues such as:

    • Working out a marital settlement agreement
    • Drafting and filing the necessary divorce paperwork
    • Following proper divorce procedure such as service and wait-time requirements
    • Figuring out the correct amount of child support that will be approved by the court
    • Agreeing on a parenting plan, including how much time the kids spend with each parent on a day-to-day basis as well as during the summer and on holidays

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    Watch Our Free Fee Waiver Video

    If you cant afford the $435 filing fee, you can apply for a fee waiver. A lot of people apply for and are granted fee waivers. To make a request to waive your filing fee, fill out the Request to Waive Court Fees . You should also fill out sections #1 and #2 on Order on Fee Waiver form. All of the fee waiver forms you will need are contained in our Court Forms Database below so you can fill out the forms and print them for free. Our Court Forms Database includes both a blank version of the FW-001 and a completed example of the FW-001. Click theCourt Forms buttons below to access the fee waiver forms. We also have a free video guide above that shows you how to fill out the FW-001 fee waiver form. Click the video above to watch our free fee waiver video guide.

    How Long Does A Divorce Take In California

    How To Prepare Divorce Fee Waiver In California

    One question people often wonder when determining how to get a divorce in California is how long the process will take. While it is difficult to determine the exact length of time the divorce process will take, what it is important to understand is that there is a six-month waiting period.

    California courts do not require a minimum separation period during a divorce, but there is a six-month waiting period before the court will grant a divorce.

    This means it will take at least six months from the time of filing to complete your divorce process in California. A divorce in which one party contests or the parties cannot come to an agreement, may result in a trial, which can lengthen the process.

    Related Reading: Divorce Timeline- What to Expect and How Long Is the Process?

    Read Also: How Does Alimony Work In California

    How Much Does It Cost To File For Divorce In California

    While overall divorce costs vary widely, filing feesone of the few universal costsare relatively straightforward. In California, it costs $435 to file a petition for dissolution of marriage, no matter the county. Unless its a joint petition for summary dissolution, a responding spouse also pays $435 to file a response to the petition. Californians who receive public benefits, have a low income or otherwise cannot afford filing fees can apply for a fee waiver.

    Cost Of A Contested Marriage Dissolution

    As getting a lawyer in a contested case would be the best course of action, a lot will depend on the:

    • Number of issues you and your ex disagree on.
    • How much assets and debts you have.
    • The number of underage children in a marriage.
    • Hourly rates of a lawyer and their retention fee.

    Note that even in the simplest scenario, you will spend around $10,000. If any issues arise, it is hard to put any upper limit on a sum you may potentially spend. Overall, a contested marriage dissolution not only costs a lot but is also way lengthier than an uncontested one. Therefore, if you want to get a cheap and quick divorce, reaching an agreement with your spouse is the best option.

    Recommended Reading: Who Pays Rent During Divorce

    How Much Does A Do

    You can receive ready-to-sign forms for a mere $139 if you use online tools. The California filing fee is $435. However, you can apply for a waiver and file for free if the court accepts your request. The cost of service depends on what option you choose.Sitemap

    Disclaimer: CaliforniaOnlineDivorce is not a law firm and its services, website, forms ortemplates are not a substitute for the advice or services of an attorney.CaliforniaOnlineDivorce provides access to computer-aided self-help services atyour specific direction. CaliforniaOnlineDivorces website and written instructions provide generalinformation about the divorce process only we cannot give you any specific advice, opinions or recommendationsas to your selection or completion of forms or your particular legal rights, remedies or options.CaliforniaOnlineDivorce is a website that provides access to self-guided online questionnaires.CaliforniaOnlineDivorce does not sell blank forms, and a user can download those on a court’s website.

    Your access to the website is subject to ourTerms Of Use.

    This website is not associated or affiliated with the state of California.

    Child Custody In California

    California Divorce And How To Avoid Paying Court Fees

    In California, matters of child custody are based on a legally binding parenting plan that determines where the child will live, when theyll see each parent and who has legal responsibility for decision-making. If both parties agree on a parenting plan, the judge usually approves it, but the judge will order a plan themselves in the event of any disagreement.

    In custody decisions, the court considers factors like the parents abilities to provide care and the childs existing ties to home, school and community. There are two types of custody the court may rule on separately:

    • Physical custody: Determines who the child lives with most of the time and how the other parent will spend time with the child.
    • Legal custody: Who can make important decisions for the child. Its common for both parents to retain joint legal custody regardless of physical custody. In California, parents typically must attend mediation with family court services before any court order is made.

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    Court Fee Schedule Summary

    Effective date: October 1, 2022

    Fees may be paid at the Clerks Office by check, money order, or credit card or online at Pay.gov. Checks and money orders must be made out to: CLERK, U.S. DISTRICT COURT.

    Filing Fees

    $402.00
    Notice of appeal
    Miscellaneous action $49.00
    Note: If you are currently unable to afford any of the above fees, you may complete and submit an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis when you present your complaint to the Clerks Office for filing.
    Attorney Admission Fees

    Attorney Admission Pro Hac Vice $317.00
    Power of Attorney $49.00
    Letter of Verification of Naturalization $43.00
    Records search * $32.00
    Electronic copy of a record that is not stored in CM/ECF $32.00
    Reproducing fee* $0.50/page
    Printing fee* $0.10/page
    Audio recording reproduction fee.* $32.00
    Fee to download an audio recording that is available through PACER $2.40
    Record Retrieval First Box $64.00
    Each additional box $39.00
    Electronic Record Retrieval $19.00

    Divorce Without A Lawyer

    Divorce without a lawyer can be a good idea if both spouses are willing to negotiate and achieve an amicable divorce. Instead of hiring separate lawyers, they still may use alternative dispute resolution methods , unbundled legal services, or online divorce services to reduce divorce costs.

    Generally, the simpler the divorce case, the less assistance may be needed. For example, as Summary Dissolution is the easiest way to dissolve the marriage in California, many couples filing for Summary Dissolution prefer to take full responsibility for completing the divorce paperwork and thus save money.

    They can use a self-help guide provided by the California Judicial Branch website to get all the necessary information for Pro Se litigants.

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    Pricing Flat Fee Uncontested Divorce Packages

    OnlineDivorceCalifornia is one of the cheapest options on the market. We provide spouses with all the forms necessary for their individual uncontested case and fill the documents out for them for as little as $199. While lawyers charge more for assets, debts, and the involvement of children, with us, the price remains the same no matter the family or financial situation.

    Want to get divorced cheap? With OnlineDivorceCalifornia, it is a real possibility. Ordering filled out legal forms from us, you will be able to divorce in California without a lawyer, and thus, save an average of $13,000!

    Is It Possible To File For Divorce In California Without Using A Lawyer

    Why Pay Your Spouses Divorce Response Filing Fees In California

    Yes. If you can agree on all of the issues with your spouse, then you can complete the paperwork yourself and have the judge review for fairness before he or she signs off on the final decree.

    However, if there are sticking points such as with child custody, support or alimony issues, you may need some degree of legal help.

    Read Also: Do You Have To Pay Taxes On Alimony

    How To File For Divorce In California

    To begin a divorce in California, one spouse must file a petition for dissolution, which asks basic questions about the marriage and about what court orders will be sought for issues like alimony or property division. This Find My Court tool helps petitioners in California figure out where to file.

    The petitioning spouse must then provide, or serve, the other spouse with copies of the divorce paperwork, including a summons. This officially informs the other spouse, called the respondent, of the case and provides notice of 30 days to submit a response form.

    In California, a six-month waiting period must be observed after filing before dissolution can be made final.

    You must also complete a if children are involved in the divorce. The California Courts offers an excellent self-help guide for divorce with an overview of the steps and links for all necessary paperwork. The complete text of Californias procedural provisions for dissolution of marriage can be found here.

    How Do You File Your Forms In California For Divorce

    You have the choice to file with an attorney. Filing for divorce in California without a lawyer is not a choice we would ever advise.

    If you are working with an attorney, they will make sure all the forms are correct, but if you are not, then many county courthouses have staff who will review the forms for you to make sure that they are acceptable.

    Once the review has been completed, you can officially file them with the court. In most cases, unless you can get the fee waived, be prepared to pay a filing fee which can be up to several hundred dollars.

    Recommended Reading: Who Pays Alimony In Divorce

    How Much Does A Divorce Cost In California Without A Lawyer

    Even without legal representation, divorce is still expensive. There is a $435$450 initial court filing charge to get things started. Couples can request a fee waiver if they are unable to pay the filing fee. Depending on the specifics of your case, your county court may impose extra costs.

    In addition to the typical costs, you might need to pay accountants, real estate agents, or child specialists to assist you in negotiating the terms of your divorce. You might need to have an asset evaluation and a real estate valuation. To assist you and your children deal with the stress and emotional turbulence of the divorce process, you might also wish to consult a mental health specialist.

    It is feasible to finish the procedure on your own, provided you avoid mediation and litigation. The most economical option is to do it yourself if you and your spouse are ready to collaborate. You dont want to be dependent and act according to the court clerk, even though a DIY divorce is enticing. There are many other reasons why divorce petitions are refused, including grammatical and arithmetic faults.

    How To Save Money On A Divorce

    Do It Yourself Divorce Papers California / Additional Information Here ...

    The greatest way to save money on divorce is to do it yourself if you and your partner are ready to cooperate.

    Couples occasionally discover that divorce is a greater undertaking than they anticipated, which frequently prompts them to give up and seek solicitors.

    Secondly, your best option is to file for an online divorce, which costs around $160. With this service, you may go on with your life more quickly than you anticipated since it finds the right mix between simplicity and affordability.

    Recommended Reading: How Do I Find Divorce Records In Louisiana

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