How Much Does It Cost To Get a Divorce in California?

What Does It Cost for a California Divorce?

How much does it cost to get a divorce in California? That depends on a few things. Let’s jump right into that question.

If your California divorce is contested, which means that you and your spouse are disputing some issue(s) in the divorce, and you can’t agree on mediation, it’s going to cost a LOT. It will cost less if you can agree to mediate, but it will still cost a LOT.

If your divorce is complex, it’s going to cost a LOT.  Complex can mean many things.  It can include the disposition of a closely held active business, the creation of trusts to handle the disposition of real estate holdings or an active business. It may be a special how much does a divorce cost in California?needs child who requires lifetime child support.  There are many possibilities and this is not a complete list. If you think you have a complex case, you do.

If your divorce has a high dollar net marital estate, it’s going to cost a LOT.  In fact, you want it to cost a lot because that means your marital estate is being protected by California-licensed professional lawyers and accountants.  It costs a lot because you’re wealthy. That’s how it works in many walks of life, including divorce. Don’t fight it with false economy. If you think you have a high value case, you do.

If  your divorce involves domestic violence or the threat of domestic violence, it MAY cost a LOT, though probably not as much as the other three types of cases in this group.  You’re going to need emergency court orders – stay-away, support, use and possession of property, debt payment, supervised child visitation, etc.

If your divorce is contested, complex, high value or involves domestic violence, refer to Group 7 of the Divorce Cost Table below.  Don’t mess around with any other option. Yes, you want to hold down the cost on your California divorce as much as you can, but false economy in divorce is not wise. Spend now, if your divorce is in this group, and you will be glad later.

How Much Does It Cost To Get a Divorce in California in Different Types of Divorces

Regardless of what type of divorce you have, the table below provides your likely price range, depending on the facts of your case.

Divorce Cost Table

Group 1Do-It-Yourself$0Low Quality; No Professional Guidance; No Complete Instructions Available; Time Consuming; Many Rejections of Your Documents by the Court; Frustrating; Very Difficult to Accomplish in 2019 and Beyond; NOT RECOMMENDED
Group 2NetDivorce$129High-Quality; No Fraud; Flat Fee; No Ups or Extras; 38+ Years Experience in California Divorce Only; Local Knowledge; Cost Effective; Great Client Testimonials
Group 3Low Quality Fraudulent Online Divorce Mill$139-$300 but these are not complete fees; these are mostly monthly subscriptions; they hit your credit card every monthUnlicensed; Unregulated; Low Quality Work; No Legal Advice Provided; No Accountability; Most Located Out-of-State or in India; Lots of Fraud, Trickery and Up-Selling; Lots of Mistakes That Affect Your Legal and Economic Rights for Many Years; No Local Knowledge; This Includes getdivorcepapers,com,,,, Referral Scam. Monthly Subscription Scam
Group 4High Quality Online Divorce Mill$750-$1000Unlicensed; Unregulated; High Quality Work; No Legal Advice Provided; No Accountability; Lots of Up-Selling; This Group is Relatively New. It Tries to Make You Think That if You Pay a LOT, You’ll Avoid the Low Quality of Group 3, and You Will, but You’ll Vastly Overpay; Referral Scam. Includes, wevorce/,
Group 5Local Legal Document Assistant$400-$700High Quality; No Fraud; Full Accountability; California-Licensed Professional; Local Knowledge; Cost Effective: Local; This Is the Way To Go If You’re Looking For Low-cost and Face-time.
Group 6Local Online Divorce Lawyer$400-$900High Quality; No Fraud; Full Accountability; California-Licensed Professional; Local Knowledge; Cost Effective: Uses Lawyer Only Where Needed; Scaleable As Needed; This is a Cross Between DIY and Full Legal Representation; This is the Best of Both Worlds.
Group 7Local Divorce Lawyer -Traditional Full Representation$2500-$5000+
(There really is no upper limit)
High Quality; No Fraud; Full Accountability; California-Licensed Professional; Local Knowledge; Convenient; At Least 2.5X Overpriced for an Uncontested Divorce; Definitely Needed For Contested, Complex, High Dollar Value and Domestic Violence Cases

However, also regardless of the type of divorce case you have, there are considerations you can use to recognize scams and tricks in divorce pricing.  Following are a few of those.

How to Recognize and Avoid Price Anchoring

Price anchoring is a cheap trick.  It is when the appliance salesman shows you the most expensive washing machine first, even though he knows that no one needs or wants the most expensive model.  He just wants you to feel better about buying a less expensive model after he has anchored the big price in your mind.

How much does it cost to get a divorce in California?An example of price anchoring in uncontested divorce is when service providers in  Group 3 in the Divorce Cost Table above tell you that their $300 fee will save you “thousands of dollars” on attorney’s fees of $3000 or $5000 or $10000 or whatever. No, it won’t!  They’re anchoring that huge price in your mind by referring to Group 7 attorney’s fees for complex or contested divorces. It’s apples and oranges. If you have an uncontested divorce,  you can find a California lawyer in Group 6 to handle document prep only (on an unbundled basis)  for around $400-900. Doc prep is all that,,, and offers. Suddenly, that $300 fee doesn’t seem like such a great deal, huh?

Particularly when you also factor in that Group 3 provides no legal advice, no legal rights checkup, no case strategy and is not available to meet you on a face-to-face basis if needed.

Online Divorce services in Group 3 of the Divorce Cost Table only compare themselves to high-priced lawyers.  By contrast, my company, NetDivorce, the only company in Group 2, only compares itself to its competitors in Group 3 and 4. Avoid bogus comparisons by recognizing price anchoring and by simply avoiding online divorce providers in Group 3 that use this cheap trick against you.

Recognize and Avoid the Referral Scam

Service providers in Groups 3 and 4 have attorneys standing by to step into your divorce (at Group 7 rates) if things go wrong in your case. If that happens, they get paid a referral fee by the lawyer who has subscribed your zip code.

Think about that.  You’ve just paid $300-$1000 to get your simple uncontested divorce and the company that is supposed to be working in your interests has an interest in getting paid again.  They will keep your fee and get the lawyer’s referral fee too.  Jackpot! And this can only happen if your divorce gets screwed up in some way.  And Group 3 companies are located in Seattle, Delaware, India and Dubai. You can’t find them or touch them. This is what’s called a conflict of interest.  They have an economic interest in screwing up your case so that you’ll need a lawyer to repair the damage.

Service providers in Group 4 actually tell you about their conflict of interest upfront on their wicked-cool websites. They advertise that they have lawyers standing by. That causes you to think that the availability of lawyers must be a good thing.  They’re telling you about it.  So it must be a valuable feature. Right? Wrong! They’re telling you that their job, once you’ve hired them, is to get paid again by referring your screwed up case to their lawyers.

Avoid the referral scam by avoiding all divorce service providers in Groups 3 and 4.

Don’t Pay Any Online Divorce Provider’s High Costs of Doing Business

Some examples of this are obvious.  Others are not.

If you hire a Group 7 lawyer and the carpet is ankle-deep in the waiting room of his fancy office in a downtown high rise, you’re getting screwed. Your paying for that carpet and it doesn’t make the lawyer a better lawyer. It simply increases his fee to you.

A less obvious way to pay for a service provider’s poor business decisions is if you search for a divorce service provider on Google or Bing. You will find mostly Group 3 or Group 4 online divorce mills if you search online for “online divorce” or similar.

On the Google search engine results page, the top 4 search results and the bottom 3 search results on each page (at the time of this writing) are the paid ads.  They are indicated by this image:  The companies whose ads are marked by that image are paying Google for Pay Per Click. Those companies bid against each other for the top 7 ad spots on that first search results page because they know that uneducated divorce consumers are very likely going to hire someone on that top page. It’s expensive real estate and you, as a wise Glendale divorce consumer, need to know about it and avoid it. In other words, you will be educated on this topic after reading this article.

At this writing, the bid required to get onto the first page for the search phrase “online divorce” is about $6.  If an online divorce company using Google’s Pay Per Click bidding gets one paying client from every 20 clicks, they are doing well.  The results of most companies are not that good. So if you search for “online divorce” and then click on one of the ads indicated by  and then you hire one of those top 4 or bottom 3 online divorce companies on that first page, you just paid approximately  $6 X 20 clicks= $120 to Google, and Google doesn’t even handle divorce!!

You thought Google search was free, right? Nothing’s free at Google Pay Per Click. You just hired a company that has to charge you $120How much does it cost to get a divorce in California? just to pay Google for your business before they even make $1 in profit.  How smart is that – for them and you? And the company didn’t pay that money. YOU DID!! You paid it in higher fees. That’s why the large nationwide divorce website,, charges $300 when smaller California-specific online divorce website, NetDivorce, charges $129 for the exact same service in the exact same case. How can we do that?  By not being dumb enough to bid up our cost of case acquisition with Pay Per Click ads.

$129 or $300 for the same service is a fairly easy choice for most divorce consumers.

NetDivorce’s case acquisition cost is ZERO.  NetDivorce pays nothing to get cases.  NetDivorce uses ONLY what is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – a wide range of fairly complex and time-consuming organic practices that enhances NetDivorce’s ability to get its unpaid ad on that top search results page somewhere in between the top 4 and the bottom 3. In other words, by spending a lot of time to make good videos and write high-quality interesting articles, like this one, containing information divorce consumers want to know and will spend time reading, NetDivorce EARNS its position on page 1. NetDivorce doesn’t buy its position.  NetDivorce earns it. And it costs nothing if you handle your SEO in-house, which NetDivorce does. And NetDivorce is very good at SEO. You will never see our ads in the top 4 or the bottom 3.  You will usually see our ad somewhere in the middle of the first or second search engine results pages.

So don’t hire a company dumb enough and lazy enough to play the Pay Per Click game. They play.  You pay. Hire someone from that middle section on the Google search engine page – below the top 4 and above the bottom 3. They earned that position, and they’ve earned your business.

NetDivorce and make about the same net profit per case – about $120. NetDivorce charges $129. Completecase,com charges $300. Same profit.  Hire someone smarter from the SEO section of the search results page and don’t pay for anyone’s dumb-ass case-acquisition cost!!

Watch For This New California Divorce Price Fraud

The Group 3 online divorce services featured in the following video quote their fees as “complete,” but they are not.  Their fees are actually monthly subscriptions.  That is buried deep in their Terms of Use, where they know you will not likely look. Their “complete fee” is for the first 30 days only.  California divorce takes 6 months minimum. They will hit your credit card every single month until you tell them to stop.

Play Video

3 of the 5 Group 3 online divorce mills featured in our divorce price fraud video disclose SOMEWHERE on their websites that their fee is not a complete fee, even though elsewhere on their websites and in their paid ads they state that their quoted fee is a complete fee.

They will argue that such disclosure prevents their price quotes from being fraudulent. However, of those three, discloses only in their terms of use, specifically states, “single flat fee,” which contradicts their terms of use and, discloses their extra fees as a positive “feature” of their service.  They state, “Offer extended subscription based access (as needed), continued service, changes and unlimited storage for only $19/month.” In other words, they do not state, except in their terms of use, that their high fee of $299 is for one month only.  This is a germane fact people want to know, and it is hidden in their terms of use only.

These companies know that the vast majority of reasonable consumers considering their services won’t read their terms of use and will look ONLY to a pricing page ( and/or other clear statements of cost on the main pages of their websites.  If a full and clear disclosure of all limitations regarding a fee is not made directly adjacent to the website location where that fee is quoted, that is a purposeful omission of a germane fact that ought to be understood by the online divorce mill as being misleading in a substantial way.  That is fraud.

Conclusions on How Much Does It Cost to Get a Divorce in California?:

  1. Use Group 7 lawyers (and no one else) if you have a contested, complex, high value or domestic violence divorce in California. A good start would be to call or visit 1-800-DIVORCE.
  2. Completely avoid Group 3 and 4 online divorce mills due to price fraud, referral fee scams, numerous instances of up-selling and (in Group 3) incompetence and poor client support.
  3. Use NetDivorce from Group 2 if you simply want to keep your fee the lowest possible for a COMPLETE service by experts with 38+ years of experience in California divorce only. Visit NetDivorce.
  4. Use Group 5 California-Licensed Legal Document Assistants if local face-time is important to you.  A good start would be to visit Online Divorce PRO.
  5. Use Group 6 California-Licensed Online Divorce Lawyers if you want the Best of Both Worlds – online divorce by a local lawyer at an unbundled fee. This service provides the security of a local lawyer on your team and can be scaled up should your divorce blow up. A good start would be to visit Online Divorce Lawyer.

Thanks for reading “How much does it cost to get a divorce in California?” and I hope this has helped you along the best path for you.

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