The average California divorce costs $14,000. In cases with contentious child support disputes or complicated joint property to divide, costs can get even higher. 

It makes sense that individuals worried about the cost of starting a divorce in California would search for low-cost solutions to their legal problems. What’s the problem with cheap divorce lawyers?

Hiring an inexpensive or inexperienced attorney can actually cost you more in the long run. Mistakes, delays, and other errors can add up to lots of extra legal fees. Any attorney you hire to fix the mess may have to take additional steps to correct the errors that further increase the costs of litigation. 

What Should You Pay for a California Family Lawyer?

It is important to understand that the average cost of divorce may bear little relationship to the cost of your particular divorce. Many attorneys will not even be able to give you a typical price for a divorce process, because the amount of total attorney’s fees range broadly from case-to-case. 

Here are some factors that go into the determination of California attorney’s fees:

  • The experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer
  • The time and labor required in the case
  • The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill required to perform the legal service properly
  • Any time limitations imposed by the circumstances or by the client

Of course, the bottom-line consideration for many people hiring an attorney: the results. If you search for an attorney with a good reputation and solid recommendations, you may be paying a little more, but you will be getting much more for your money. 

How Can I Reduce My Legal Fees?

A considerate family law attorney should understand cost-consciousness. In many divorce cases, and in all child custody cases, your attorney will see your pay stubs and tax returns. They will know the affordability of their hourly rate in comparison to your means. 

However, you will agree to the attorney’s hourly rate in the contract you sign at the outset of the representation. So what can you do to reduce your legal fees? Here are a few things:

  • Respond promptly to your attorney’s requests for documents needed to answer subpoenas
  • Provide any relevant new information to your attorney in a timely manner, especially if you are getting remarried–remarriage can impact child support in California
  • Review your billing statements as you receive them for any errors

In some cases, it may be beneficial to discuss with your attorney why you might choose mediation for your divorce. Mediation can help some divorcing spouses reach agreements and save time, costs, and stress. 

How To Find a Good Divorce Lawyer? 

One common way to learn about divorce lawyers who have done good work is to ask around. 

Colleagues at work, your friends, even your neighbors might have suggestions. These references will be able to answer questions you had about the attorney’s communication styles and how compassionate the attorney is towards individuals in difficult situations. 

When you get a referral, check the lawyer’s reviews online. Keep in mind that no singular review can capture the full reality of an attorney’s legal services. Look for trends among the reviews. 

For example, if multiple reviewers complain that the attorney is slow to respond to client concerns, you may have a similar experience with this attorney. 

You may also wish to search the California attorney discipline database. If the attorney has a history of financial troubles or client ethics complaints, you probably want to steer clear. Remember that you usually get what you pay for!