To get a divorce in California, you must file your case with the court.  Nearly any case you can file with the court requires a filing fee and other potential fees to have the court take your case.  These filing fees are generally higher than the fees for a marriage license, which makes it harder to get divorced than it does to get married.  The Santa Barbara divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth discuss how much it costs to file for divorce in California and what other costs you might face in your divorce case.

How Much is the Divorce Filing Fee in California?

The fee to file for divorce in California is $435 as of the writing of this article.  Generally, this means that you will pay $435 at the time that you file your paperwork with the court.  To respond to a divorce case, you also have to file $435, which means that the court gets a total of $870 from you and your spouse.

In some counties, this fee might be higher because of local rules and requirements.  For instance, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Francisco’s courthouses are under construction according to the fee schedule, so court filing fees have been increased a bit to help support that project.  From time to time other circumstances may allow a county to increase its filing fees, or additional local filing fees might mean the filing fee is slightly higher.

Who Pays the Filing Fee for a Divorce Case in California?

As mentioned above, the party who files the initial divorce petition pays the $435 fee when they file the case.  If you are responding to a divorce petition, you will pay another $435 when you file your response.  However, whether you are the petitioner or respondent, you might ultimately get reimbursed for the cost of filing.

In many divorce cases, the court fees and attorneys fees become a part of the case.  If spouses share their finances, it may make sense to take the total cost of hiring a lawyer and filing the case out of those joint finances.  If one spouse has more money than the other, you may try to have them pay the total cost of the divorce as part of your case.

What Do Filing Fees Cover?

Courts charge filing fees to help support the courthouse and its functions.  Operating a court is expensive and requires a lot of courthouse workers and staff.  While taxes help support these workers and operating costs, court fees also help keep the lights on.

Courts also use filing fees as a way of making sure that filings are serious.  People are less likely to file a divorce case they aren’t sure about if it costs $435 to file.  This helps weed-out cases that might be withdrawn so that they don’t unnecessarily take up time on the court schedule.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

Aside from the filing fees, there are other costs and expenses associated with a divorce case.  Not only will you need to pay to have the court take up your divorce case, but you will also have to divide assets and potentially make payments to your spouse as part of the divorce case.

In a divorce in California, the couple typically splits all shared assets 50/50.  Rather than dividing each asset 50/50, the court will have you list your financial assets, savings, investments, and other property so that they can look at the sum-total of what you own.  The court will then divide these items so that each spouse takes an equal portion.  Assets you owned before the marriage or after the separation should not be included in this split.  Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements may allow you to alter the split so you can take more assets.

As part of a divorce case, one spouse may be asked to make spousal support or child support payments.  If one spouse does not have a job or cannot work to support themselves because of a physical disability or because they spend too much time caring for shared children, the court may order one spouse to pay the other temporary or ongoing spousal support payments.  After child custody is divided in a divorce case, the court may also ask either parent to contribute to the child’s support costs while they are staying with the other parent, resulting in additional support payments.

Many of these issues have complex legal repercussions, and you should always work with a divorce attorney on your divorce case.  Attorneys may be somewhat expensive, but hiring an attorney may be better than losing additional funds because of mistakes or hurried decisions made without an attorney in your corner.  Ultimately, you may be able to include your attorney’s fees as part of the divorce case as well.  Similarly to how you may be able to claim spousal support or include the filing fees as part of the divorce settlement, you may also be able to have your spouse cover the cost of your attorney’s fees.  Talk to a lawyer about your options for reducing the burden of paying for your divorce case.

Call Our Ventura and Santa Barbara Divorce Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation

If you are considering filing for divorce in California, call the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today to discuss your case.  Our Ventura family lawyers represent clients in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and many of the surrounding areas.  We may be able to review your case and help you through the divorce process to work toward an outcome that helps you and protects your finances.  For a free legal consultation on your divorce case, call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.