Search Mediators Near You:

The True Cost Of A Divorce in California

From Erica Becks’ Cure for the Common Conflict.

Whether fueled by desperation, fear or just plain old vengeance, too many well-intentioned (okay maybe not so well-intentioned) people end up in a litigated divorce. And while I could spend the next year discussing the benefits of mediation over litigation, I won’t. I’ll just give you the numbers. And for those of you with a rudimentary knowledge of arithmetic, the numbers should speak for themselves. So without further ado:

The Cost of A Mediated Divorce in California (Estimate)

10 hours of Mediation @ $150/hr-$1,500
Legal Expenses & Filing Fees
Independent Legal Consult for both parties-$1,000
Real Estate Appraisal-$450
Tax Consultation-$500
Drafting of Marital Settlement Agreement-$500
Filing Fees-$500
TOTAL: $4,450 (or $2,225 per party)

The Cost of A Litigated Divorce in California (Estimate)
Two attorneys @ $250/hr
Pre-filing Analysis & Preparation-$5,000
Filing Fees-$550
Prepare & Attend Initial Hearing (12 hours)-$3,000
Formal Discovery (80 hours)-$20,000
Misc Costs (expert witnesses, appraisals, etc)-$20,000
Pre-trial preparation & Meetings (40 hours)-$10,000
Settlement (40 hours)-$10,000
Marital Settlement Agreement Preparation(20 hours)-$5,000
TOTAL: $73,550 (or $36,775 per party)

Given this, there is no reason that any one should ever end up in a litigated divorce, unless you thrive off of drama, enjoy the thought of draining your entire savings and handing it over to your humble and ever loyal attorney, are at a SERIOUS disadvantage by being unrepresented by an attorney (i.e. you have little access to money because your spouse controls all of your finances, or there is a significant threat of physical or psychological harm from your spouse), or you have tried every other possible means to resolve your dispute, including mediation, and have failed. And if you are beginning to feel yourself being pulled into the dark side, there’s this thing called a child’s best interest, that you might want to consider before bringing out the guns. And definitely before hiring any sharks.


Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


Where Does Marital Mediation Fit In?

During the past quarter century, academics and others writing about mediation have characterized styles of mediation as belonging to one of three categories: “facilitative”, “evaluative” and “transformative”.   The categories are...

By Laurie Israel

12 Dispute Mediation Techniques for Managers

When different people work together there are high chances that there will be differences in opinion. These differences sometimes lead to disputes among teams which a manager has to handle...

By Arslan Hassan

Some New Thoughts about Mediation Confidentiality

Jeff Kichaven writes on mediation for the International Risk Management Institute. First published on These thoughts are tentative. My goal is to have this column be the first, not...

By Jeff Kichaven

Find a Mediator