If my wife and I have agreed to divorce terms, will our divorce cost us less? We live in California. 10 Answers as of March 28, 2011

My wife and I have been married less than 10 years. We do not have children, and have separate property. In addition, we have no joint bank accounts. Does this equate to a less expensive divorce? Also, is this a straight forward process?

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Goodman, Dicus, and Teinert, LLP
Goodman, Dicus, and Teinert, LLP | Paul M. Teinert
If both parties agree to an uncontested divorce then it can be much cheaper. Many attorneys, including our firm, will offer a flat rate fee in these instances.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/28/2011
Michael Rose Attorney at Law
Michael Rose Attorney at Law | Michael Rose
In California all property is community even if it is in separate accounts (with a few exceptions).The property or cash was earned during the marriage. Both can agree on how to split property and it needs to be revealed and agreed in writing so there will be no coming back.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/18/2011
Goldberg Jones
Goldberg Jones | Zephyr Hill
It is not a straight forward process but it can be made much easier and less expensive when you have a settlement ready to go. Many attorneys will be happy to flat fee an uncontested Dissolution like this.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/17/2011
Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
Absolutely! You can process your divorce yourselves, without Attorneys, using a packet of forms provided by the Clerk's Office at your local Courthouse. That is, many, if not most, courts offer such forms, and sometimes even how-to clinics on the divorce process.Some Courts have an Attorney available, called a Facilitator, to advise you and possibly help you to fill out the forms. The Facilitator will not represent you in Court. The paperwork is not necessarily straightforward, but it can definitely be done on a 'pro per' (representing yourself) basis. Clearly, all of the above would save you money. Where it is not practical, is if you need even one court date or are going to fight over (litigate) any issue.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/16/2011
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
What you propose may be less expensive, but may also be less fair.

Merely because a bank account is in one party's name doesn't make the funds in that account the separate property of that party. Income earned by each party during the marriage is community property (unless a valid and enforceable Prenuptial Agreement states otherwise).

Merely because you don't have joint bank accounts doesn't mean that funds in your or your wife's bank accounts are separate property. Separate property is property owned before the marriage or acquired by way of gift, inheritance or distribution from a 3rd party trust.

To the extent you or your wife had separate property, and kept separate property separate, i.e., did not commingle it with community property (such as earnings), it can be confirmed as separate property. If commingled, it becomes problematic, requiring tracing to determine whether the monies that remain in the account are separate property or community property based on what was used, when and for what, and if can't be adequately demonstrated that the funds that remain are separate property, those funds could be held to be community property.

Unfortunately, few divorces involve straightforward processes. Each of you is required to provide to the other a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure and a Final Declaration of Disclosure, updating the information to ensure that when the case is resolved, each party has current updated information to enable the case to be resolved on the real facts. A divorce can be set aside (within certain time limits) if it can be demonstrated that a party defrauded the other or committed perjury in his or her Declaration of Disclosure.

You didn't address whether both parties earn substantially the same income. If they don't, one party may be entitled to receive Spoual Support (alimony) from the other.

The best way to resolve a case where the parties don't know or understand California law regarding Dissolution of Marriage is for each party to retain an experienced Family Law Attorney, to advise and represent the party to seek and obtain a fair result in the case.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/16/2011
    Maclean Chung Law Firm
    Maclean Chung Law Firm | G. Thomas MacLean Jr.
    If you agree on everything, then yes, it will likely cost you a lot less, and also be a much less stressful process. You can do either a regular uncontested divorce with both of you making appearances, or a quasi-default divorce with a marital settlement agreement signed by both of you.

    If you have an agreement, the advantages of a quasi-default is that only one spouse has to file and pay the court filing fees, but it is still in essence an uncontested divorce also. The process is fairly straightforward, but there are required forms and disclosures that have to be made and filed for the divorce to proceed. For an uncontested divorce, many attorneys offer a flat fixed fee to handle the whole divorce matter.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/16/2011
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    If you agree, yes the divorce can be much cheaper. Our firm offers flat rate in cases where couples have an agreement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/16/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    If you are talking about the cost of having a legal professional prepare the judgment packet, then yes, it will reduce the cost. If you are talking about court fees, the answer is no. If you and your wife are looking for legal assistance, please contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/16/2011
    Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law
    Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law | Edwin Fahlen
    When the parties agree to settle all issues in a divorce case, the process is rather easy, and yes it will save a lot of money. There are certain procedures that must be followed. However, it will never be necessary to make a court appearance, as the case can be completed start to finish with only "paperwork."
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/16/2011
    Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP
    Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP | Hal D. Bartholomew
    The out of pocket court costs are the same in each county. It is $395 for the petitioner and $395 for the respondent. The marital settlement agreement containing your details should be simpler to have prepared. I suggest that the two of you together see an attorney with experience in divorce mediation to assist you in resolving any minor items and in preparing the agreement. It is important that all issues are resolved between the two of you as part of the process. The mediator, acting as a facilitator, will meet with both of you. This lessens the opportunity of miscommunication about the details of your agreement. The mediator also may have ideas and suggestions that might improve your agreement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/16/2011
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