How Much Does it Cost to File a Divorce in California?

Divorce is not free in California. You and your spouse may have to pay certain fees for the court to process your petition. You could also incur additional costs related to hiring a private investigator and divorce attorney, as well as the expenses of a divorce trial in Orange County. Understanding how much it might cost to file for divorce in California could help you know what to expect. You may qualify for financial assistance if you cannot afford the price of filing for divorce.

Typical Court Costs and Filing Fees for a Divorce

The amount of money it will take to file your divorce petition changes from state to state. Call your County Clerk’s office to ask exactly how much it will take to file in your county. As of January 1, 2014, the filing fee in California is $435. This is the price to file the initial divorce petition. It is also $435 to file a response to your spouse’s divorce petition. Depending on your county, you may also have to pay additional filing fees (this is true in San Bernardino, Riverside and San Francisco Counties). Using online divorce services instead of going through the court could also cost a few hundred dollars.

Save Money On Your Divorce Case

Once you pay the filing fee, the other costs associated with your divorce will depend on how easily you resolve the case. You may be able to save money on filing fees by working out a divorce agreement with your spouse. In this case, only one person will need to file papers in court. This can cut the filing fees in half and spare you from paying them as a respondent (if your spouse agrees to be the petitioner). It can also save you money on the potential costs of a lawyer and a full divorce trial. Try working out an agreement to save time and money on your divorce. Working with a mediator could help you compromise with your spouse.

Ask a lawyer if you are eligible to receive temporary alimony during your divorce proceeding. This is a temporary order requiring your spouse to pay you a certain amount each month to maintain your typical standard of living. This could help you pay for the costs of a divorce. It may also be possible to obtain reimbursement for your court costs and attorney’s fees as part of your divorce settlement. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate this agreement as part of a settlement or convince a judge to make it part of your divorce order. Work with an Orange County divorce lawyer for assistance requesting fee reimbursement.

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 household’s 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.