Legal Separation

How Much Does It Cost to File for Legal Separation?

When I sit down with my legal separation clients, one of the first questions they ask me is how much does it cost to file for legal separation? Unfortunately, there isn’t really an easy answer to this question, as the overall cost of filing for legal separation will vary depending on the unique circumstances of your case and where you live. In this article, I’ll explain some of the main factors that go into determining how much it costs to file for legal separation and provide some rough estimates based on average fees in different regions around the country.

Asking how much does it cost to file for legal separation may seem like an easy question, but the truth is that there are many factors involved in answering it properly, including your state’s laws, whether you and your spouse have children, and more. If you and your spouse would like to legally separate, you should first talk with a lawyer who specializes in this area of the law. 

Legal separation can be complex and confusing, especially if you’re not sure what to expect or who will be responsible for what costs while you’re separating. Fortunately, you can speak with a legal separation attorney to guide you through the process and answer any questions you have about how much it will cost to file for legal separation in your area. 

Keep reading to learn more about how much legal separation costs and the expenses associated with this process.


How Much It Cost to File for Legal Separation in California?

Hiring a lawyer is often one of your options when you’re deciding whether or not to legally separate from your spouse. Filing for legal separation in California costs $435. This includes filing with the court and service of process on your spouse. 

Additional fees may apply depending on what exactly you need help with. For example, if you need someone who can represent you in court during a hearing, that will cost more than just filing with a standard petition and declaration of disclosure form.

That said, legal separation doesn’t include actual divorce proceedings. Those must be started separately as a new case within six months of starting a legal separation action. In order to file for divorce, expect to pay anywhere between $675-$1,200 plus additional support services as needed. 

While it’s certainly possible to manage your legal separation on your own, hiring a legal separation attorney could save time and reduce stress overall by ensuring that everything goes smoothly—and quickly—from start to finish. When considering how much it costs to file for legal separation or even how much it costs to hire a legal separation attorney for something like child custody issues, keep in mind that hiring someone through LegalZoom will still save you money over hiring an individual law firm directly.


How Legal Separation Is Different from Divorce

Before we start looking at cost, it’s important to note that legal separation and divorce are two separate processes. Both will end your marriage, but they differ in a couple of ways. Most importantly: 

A legal separation won’t alter your spouse’s rights or obligations toward you or any children; in other words, both spouses will still be responsible for alimony and child support. And any prenuptial agreement is still enforceable in a legal separation. Divorce, on the other hand… not so much.


What Are Some Things to Consider When Filing for Legal Separation?

There are some factors you need to consider when filing for legal separation. When is it right for you and your spouse (if you are married) to file for legal separation? You should also consult with a professional that can help you navigate through all of these factors. A legal separation attorney can talk through these options with you. 

This will be very important as there are many different factors that must be considered before moving forward with filing for legal separation. If they feel like it is not in your best interest or your family’s best interest then they will advise against it if they feel like it would not benefit your situation at all.


What are Some Common Misconceptions About Legal Separation?

While some may think that legal separation is just a precursor to divorce, legally separating from a spouse doesn’t necessarily mean you’re planning on breaking up. 

You can be legally separated and still want your marriage to last. However, many people don’t realize that they aren’t eligible for legal separation if they don’t meet certain requirements set forth by their state. 

For example, in Florida and Texas only couples who have been married 10 years or longer can legally separate; in California, you must have been married at least four years before you can get a legal separation; and Washington state residents must live separately from their spouses for at least five months before applying.

Do I Need to See a Lawyer if I’m Considering Filing for Legal Separation?

One of the most common questions I get from people who are thinking about filing for legal separation is whether or not they should hire a lawyer. Some people want a lawyer because they believe it will help ensure that everything goes smoothly during their case and allow them to protect their rights while going through a divorce or legal separation. 

Others don’t want a lawyer because they’re worried that going through a legal separation will be extremely costly and hiring one will only add to their financial troubles. In reality, there’s no one size fits all answer when it comes to whether or not you need a lawyer if you’re considering filing for legal separation.


A legal separation can be a financially draining process as well as emotionally trying. The last thing you want is added financial stress on top of that. An experienced legal separation attorney will work with you to formalize an agreement that lets you stay together while still protecting your rights and those of your partner. 

Depending on what arrangements are put in place, it may actually be less expensive than divorce and lead to a quicker conclusion than if one or both partners decide to contest things further through litigation. 

If you’re considering legal separation rather than divorce, please contact an experienced legal separation attorney today so we can help protect your interests and keep costs down by avoiding costly litigation where possible.

Hope this article helps you to know how much it cost to file legal separation in California!