We’ve all heard about a difficult and expensive divorce that a relative, colleague or friend had to go through. We sympathize in these situations, and deep down inside we are afraid that this could happen to us. Divorce is an unpleasant affair, but it doesn’t have to be super scary. Many factors affect divorces; they can last from a few months to a year. Depending on the circumstances, it may cost a significant amount of money. Divorcing couples are often asked a simple question: “Is there a cheap way to get a divorce?” And the answer is yes. The dissolution of marriage can indeed be quick and cheap.
The fewer disputes there are between the spouses, the faster their divorce will be granted. It also reduces the cost of divorce. An uncontested divorce means that the spouses do not need to participate in court hearings to resolve issues regarding the divorce. As a result, they do not need lawyers to represent them in the court, which greatly reduces the cost of the dissolution. According to statistics, the average contested divorce with a lawyer is around $20,000. The more contentious issues a couple has, the higher the cost will be. For comparison, the cost of an uncontested divorce is about $500.
Uncontested divorce also referred to as “amicable”, can be obtained within 3-6 months, depending on the state. An amicable divorce is thus the quickest and cheapest way to end a marriage.
In order to streamline the divorce process, the spouses must be willing to cooperate. Various reasons may lead to a desire for divorce – if possible, however, insults and quarrels are best left behind. For uncontested divorces, the couple must discuss all the controversial issues of their termination – the division of property, child custody, alimony, the grounds for divorce, and other issues that may arise in the process of termination – and find a solution that will be good for all. Spouses must come to a general agreement and vision on how they want to end the marriage. This discussion should result in a Settlement Agreement, which indicates that the couple has settled all their disputes. Based on this agreement, the judge will make the final decision. If the agreement is clear and understandable, the judge will grant the divorce even before the first hearing and the spouses will not have to visit the courtroom.
So, you have decided that your divorce will be uncontested and quite possibly have resolved all your differences. Now it is time to prepare all the necessary papers for the court. The cheapest way to do this (but not the easiest one) is to fill everything out by yourself. DIY divorce means that you find and fill out all the forms yourself, and file them with the court. This is completely legal and does not require a legal license on your part. With DIY divorce you only pay for court fees.
Before you start filling out the papers, you need to carefully study the legislation. Forms will vary depending on the circumstances of your divorce, as well as your state of residence. All the necessary papers can be obtained from the court clerk, or they can be downloaded on the Supreme Court website.
Be extremely careful when filling out papers, as any inaccuracies or errors can lead to a slowdown or rejection of your case. The website of the Supreme Court has all the information for those filing for divorce on their own, and you need to carefully read it before filling out documents. You will also need to make several copies of all the papers you’ve prepared. When all the documents are ready, they must be brought to the court of the county where you or your spouse reside. Some states provide the opportunity to submit forms online through a special e-filing system but clarify if this function exists in your state and county before submitting anything.
This is the best way to terminate a marriage quickly and cheaply. All the spouses have to do is use an online form preparation system and answer a host of questions regarding their marriage. You do not need to understand the legislation or fill out the paper yourself. The system will do everything itself, adjusting to the circumstances of the termination and conditions in the relevant state. On average, papers will be ready within 2 business days.
The cost of online divorce varies depending on the platform but typically amounts to $150-400 – excluding legal fees, which are paid directly in the process of filing papers with the court.
Online divorce is a great alternative to filling out forms yourself. Cases are numerous in which a spouse fills out forms and makes several mistakes or inaccuracies, because of which the court ends up rejecting the papers. With online divorce, the probability of this outcome is reduced drastically. On practically all platforms that provide this service, there are lawyers who check the completed papers before they are sent to the client. In addition, these services provide instructions regarding the steps that should be taken in order to obtain a divorce, which is also useful.
Carefully study the companies that provide services for the preparation of online divorce papers. Many of them will make quality forms, but they are not all as diligent as you would like them to be. Sometimes you can get on a service, and they will provide incorrect papers. It’s therefore important to read all the reviews and critiques of the service you’ve chosen. Also, make a note of sites that guarantee a refund in the event that the papers are rejected by the court.
This is another good alternative to litigation. The price of a divorce with mediators is several times higher than a DIY or online divorce, typically hovering around $2000, but is nevertheless a great opportunity to settle differences.
Mediators are not psychologists and do not give legal advice – their task is to find a compromise. The price is not pocket money, but compared to a contested divorce, with its lengthy court sessions, mediation is a good way to solve problems.
Mediation makes sense if the spouses want to complete the divorce peacefully, but they cannot independently resolve some of their issues. Instead of solving everything in the courtroom, spouses can quietly and peacefully discuss controversial and sticky issues at sessions with intermediaries. Mediators are a third party in the divorce process, and it is their job to remain neutral. The mediators never take the side of a given spouse; they always try to find a solution that will satisfy both spouses.
Sessions with intermediaries are usually voluntary; no one can force the spouses to participate or agree to conditions that do not satisfy them. However, if the couple cannot resolve the issue of child custody, the court will direct these parents to use the services of a mediator. This is also good because spouses can set a schedule of sessions that is convenient for them.
Tips to save money during the divorce process
Divorce can be financially destructive. With that in mind, let’s go through some basic tips that will help save money in the process of marriage dissolution.
- Find a compromise regarding all differences. As we said before, the fewer controversial issues that exist between spouses, the faster and easier their divorce will be granted. If the spouses have no disputes, they do not need lawyers to represent them in court. This reduces the cost of a marriage dissolution by a factor of ten.
- Make a budget. Be realistic about the cost of divorce. Calculate how much you can spend on the dissolution and based on that, choose the type of divorce that suits you best.
- Be careful. Doublecheck all the forms that you are going to submit several times. Any mistakes can lead to an increase in the cost of divorce. Make sure that you have the full complement of documents; if there are missing papers, you will have to go to court again and file your case.
- Waive fees. The court can cancel fees if you prove that you do not have the ability to pay them. Consult with the clerk about what papers are needed for this, and fill out the appropriate form.
- Separate your bank accounts. If you and your spouse have joint bank accounts, it’s time to close or divide them. The money you use to pay your bills should not be involved in the expenses of your spouse.
- Read the information on the Supreme Court website. Of course, consulting with lawyers is very helpful. If you want to save money, however, read all the necessary information from the website of the court. The Supreme Court provides everything you need to file for divorce yourself; you can also consult with your county’s court clerk, as he may clarify the basic steps you need to take.
- Sign up for free advice. Try to find any volunteer programs that provide legal assistance for free.
- Use social media. On Youtube or Instagram, you can find lots of bloggers who talk about divorce. Some of them have gone through this process themselves, and some of them have experience in legal practice. In any case, each blogger gives free tips, referencing pitfalls that they themselves met, which can help put you on the right path.
Divorce has long been a part of our lives, and couples get divorced for a plethora of different reasons. But through all the pressure, it is important to remain calm and balanced. Wrong and thoughtless actions can lead to disastrous consequences, including financial ones. A competent approach to the process is the key to a quick, simple and cheap divorce.