The court requires that the filing party have the other party served. Options include process service or service by publication.

Predicting the cost of a divorce is nearly impossible as each case turns on its own specific facts and circumstances. The following factors can help minimize the costs in certain cases:

  • If there is an agreement between the parties to part, the costs can be dramatically reduced.
  • If the parties participate in a mediation, either private or through the Mandatory Settlement Conference, costs can also be reduced.
  • In general, the more contested issues there are – children, support, division of property – the more costs will be incurred.

Pursuant to Family Code Section 2104, each party is required to exchange their preliminary declaration of disclosures, which includes the disclosure of all financial information including assets, debts and expenses. Each party also owes the other party a fiduciary duty. However, final disclosures can be waived by both parties prior to entry of judgment.

If you choose to reconcile, any unused retainer funds will be refunded to you.

A retainer agreement is a contract that you sign with our firm. This agreement outlines the work that will be done on your case. It will include your initial retainer amount and the hourly rates charged by each staff member of the firm. It must be signed before the firm can do any work on your case.

A retainer is an amount that is required in order for our firm to take your case. This amount is put into a trust account and is not taken from the trust account until the money is earned. For example, if your retainer was $3,500, it is deposited into the trust account and as the firm bills for things related to you and your case, then the funds are disbursed to the firm as earned money. If in the first month, you are only billed $1,000, then only $1,000 is disbursed from the trust account to the firm. Therefore, you would then have $2,500 left in your trust account. A retainer is not the full price of any case but merely is an estimate of cost and depending on what is going on in your case, at most times, will need to be replenished once depleted.

As of 2019, the standard filing fee for each party is $435, which the court must receive. In certain circumstances, fee waivers can be granted, so it is important to disclose your financial condition both to your attorney and the court.

To file for divorce in California, at least one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for at least six months and must be a resident of San Diego County for at least three months.

Under California law, a divorce is called a “dissolution of marriage.”

FCS is the Family Court Services branch of the San Diego Superior Court. FCS conducts mediation appointments for the parties as their case relates to child custody and visitation.

DCSS is the Department of Child Support Services. DCSS has its main location at the downtown courthouse and a large branch location in Vista.

The California Legislative Information website has the family code for your reference.

Your case will be located in one of the four districts based on your zip code. The court has a zip code list for your reference.

There are four locations for the superior courts in San Diego: Vista (North), El Cajon (East), Chula Vista (South) and downtown San Diego (Central).