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Divorce is never an easy decision. Even if the couple has agreed to separate amicably, the entire process can still turn out rather exhausting and frustrating. In addition to the emotional strain and unease it entails, divorce cost is going to become another reason for doubt and procrastination. Indeed, countless disputes concerning property division, alimony, or child custody can make the trial process much more expensive even in the most adequate and amicable cases.
The following infographic represents some important facts about divorce and its cost:
Luckily, there are options for low cost divorces that can ease the burden of this difficult decision at least to some extent. From settling the issues without the attorney’s interference to getting a divorce online will help to cut down the expenses for the benefit of both parties. So, here are some tips for people who wonder how to get divorced cheaply and relatively painlessly.
Divorce is not a cheap endeavor per se. And the longer the process lasts the more you pay since the resolution of each separate issue requires time while lawyers charge hourly fees. Therefore, one of the cheapest options for a couple is an uncontested divorce. In this case, they agree on all the main disputes (including property splitting, child custody, support, alimony, etc.) on their own and reach a marital settlement agreement before filing for divorce. First of all, the couple will not need two attorneys to represent each side, which saves a considerable part of the family budget (still mutual). Secondly, uncontested divorce makes the process much quicker and eliminates tiresome and frustrating court battles, preventing possible nervous breakdowns.
Perhaps, the cheapest way to get divorced is a do-it-yourself (DIY) divorce. That’s right; it means that everything will be done by yourself, without any interference from a single lawyer. Of course, this option is only possible in case of an uncontested divorce, when you and your spouse have settled all the issues and will not be engaged in any further disputes.
A DIY divorce would require you to prepare and file all the papers yourself. Nowadays, the first step is not really difficult since you can easily find all the forms necessary for a divorce online. Make sure to search for the instructions and papers relevant to your location since each state may have its own peculiarities, and the forms may differ in some ways. In case of the slightest doubt, you better visit the office of the local court clerk to make sure that you get all the necessary and proper forms.
The next step is filling in and filing all the paperwork, which may be a bit tricky. The good news is that very often, there is a family law facilitator in local courts. These specialists are there to help people who want to undergo the divorce process without the lawyer’s involvement. If you are lucky to meet one, then this process will get somewhat easier and quicker. When the paperwork is done, you will need to take the original documents along with two copies to the local court to start the case. In some cases, you may be allowed to submit all the papers electronically.
In the case of a DIY divorce, you will only pay court fees that generally vary in different states and even in different counties. However, even in the most expensive cases, that would be definitely much less than the attorney’s hourly service charges.
Perhaps not the cheapest but the quickest is online divorce. This service is not free and may cost somewhere between $150 and $900. Yes, it is more than in a DIY case, but undoubtedly cheaper than the traditional divorce with the lawyers and trials involved. Instead, it saves the time you could spend on searching the forms, getting help with their filling in, completing all the paperwork, and filing it on your own. In addition, the automated system guidance will prevent you from doing something wrong or missing some parts, which is another benefit you get.
Additional expenses may entail consultations with the lawyers, instructions on preparing some specific plans, and filing the papers with the court if you do not want to do it personally. However, sometimes it is even possible to get the money back if the court does not accept the paperwork. So, in case you opt for a cheap divorce online, you save money, time, and nerve.
If an uncontested divorce is not the case for you and your spouse and you still need to reach certain settlement agreements, you may choose divorce mediation. A mediator is a neutral third-party specialist who will help to negotiate all the disputes. They do not make any decisions but guide both parties through the process, assisting in settling all the disagreements they may have.
Attorneys are not necessarily required at divorce mediation, saving you money on their fees. A mediator also charges hourly, and the rates vary across the states. However, they are more affordable than lawyers, making this option much more beneficial in your situation.
Additional Options for a Cheap Divorce
States usually have a fee waiver procedure for people with low income or limited assets. However, be ready to provide the court with proof of your indigent status to qualify for waived fees. In this case, be sure to gather all the information on the sources of income, including the additional ones, assets, debts, and tax returns. Papers confirming supplemental payments from the government (social security, disability, child support, etc.), food stamps, or Medicaid will also be necessary. The trick is that all this information will still be needed at the final disclosure stage of the divorce process, so you do not need to make any extra steps in this regard.
The court may decide to defer the fees or you may file for such an option yourself. You will still need to cover all the expenses, but you will have a bit more time to do this. Such an option makes the divorce at least a little bit cheaper at this very moment.
Free Legal Aid
Nowadays, there are a number of legal aid organizations, local bar associations, and volunteer lawyers that can offer free services. Legal aid organizations are ready to provide help to people who cannot afford court expenses. Bar associations offer free legal programs for the needy. Some lawyers volunteer their services pro bono – for free – or may offer discounts or long-term payment plans. All these are a part of social services, and you may need to qualify for such assistance. But this is a very good option, especially in extreme cases.
So, What’s the Best Option?
Just like every family has its own story that has led to a divorce, each one will choose the best fitting option of a cheap divorce for themselves. It is important not to rush with the conclusion and consider all the possible opportunities and outcomes.
||Percentage of People Who Use
||60% – 70%
|DIY divorce using forms and guides
||10% – 15%
|Online divorce services
||10% – 15%
||10% – 15%
|Fee waivers and deferments
||5% – 10%
|Free legal aid
||1% – 5%
This table provides an overview of the different low-cost ways to divorce without an attorney and their approximate percentages of usage. Understanding these statistics can help individuals who are seeking a divorce to assess the available options and determine which method may be most suitable for their situation. By considering the various low-cost divorce methods, individuals can potentially save significant amounts of money and reduce the overall stress and complexity of the divorce process.
Of course, you will need to conduct considerable research on the costs involved in online divorce, mediation, or court fees while filing or consulting with specialists. Besides, you must be confident that you can successfully handle all the papers in case you opt for a DIY divorce, not to make the process even longer and more frustrating with a single simple mistake. And if you are sure that there is no way you can preserve your marriage, do your best to at least resolve and settle all the disputes with your spouse amicably; this will help to save at least on attorneys.