Unfortunately, no one can get a stress-free and low-cost divorce just because they want to. It is difficult to save money or generally predict anything if you are going to sue your spouse or contest a divorce case. However, the simpler the divorce is the more opportunities to save money with no huge risks. “Simple” means relatively peaceful and no-fault. If this is your case – you should think twice before wasting all your money on a divorce attorney.
Here are the main conditions and options that can help you to make a divorce proceeding cheaper and more straightforward.
Want a Low-Cost Divorce? Refuse Litigation
Lengthy, and stressful litigation with numerous hearings, huge expenses on attorneys, and growing hostility – all these divorce stereotypes usually relate to the “traditional,” contested divorce process. Unlike the last century, nowadays, many Americans now prefer to watch such dramas on TV but not participate. As statistics show, the vast majority of divorce cases are uncontested, meaning that the spouses settle most of their disagreements out-of-court.
An uncontested divorce means that neither spouse tries to prove the other’s fault for the breakup of the marriage and win a case. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses typically act together. They should negotiate and decide on the essential terms of their divorce, like property distribution, child custody and support, alimony, and others by signing the agreement. This agreement must be submitted with the court, and the judge has the final say whether the arrangements meet the family law and whether they are fair in a particular divorce case.
Although the final hearing is still mandatory in most cases, and the judge must review the couple’s arrangements, an uncontested divorce usually takes much less time than a contested one. How quickly the couple will find common ground depends only on them. But they do not need to wait for each new court session to discuss each separate issue.
As for legal representation, in an uncontested divorce, the spouses may hire an attorney as well. The lawyer can help to prepare the needed divorce documents and create a settlement agreement. Usually, the lawyers charge so-called flat fees per uncontested case, in contrast to the hourly rate for a contested divorce. So, even considering the lawyer’s help, an uncontested divorce, typically, is significantly cheaper than a contested one.
However, if the case is simple enough, the spouses may try to proceed without legal assistance at all. In this case, this does not carry such risks as with a contested divorce (for example, when one hires a lawyer while the second does not, their chances to win the case are hard to call equal). The total cost of a divorce may be really affordable in such a situation.
Filing for Divorce Without a Lawyer
The perfect way to avoid extra expenses and arrange a genuinely low-cost divorce is to proceed without an attorney. Admittedly, it cannot be advised for those couples who have a complicated divorce situation or have a lot of marital assets to divide or have minor children, and it’s challenging for them to settle all the disputes on their own. For everyone else, especially for those whose marriage lasted less than five years, and there are no children of the marriage, a “do-it-yourself divorce” can turn out to be a real option.
In legal terms, it is called “pro se divorce,” which means that a person represents their interests before the court independently.
Thus, the spouses take on all the steps of the uncontested divorce process. Ideally, they have to gather the divorce forms required for their particular case, fill them out correctly, and file for divorce following the Family law of their state of residence. Also, they need to create and sign a marital settlement agreement and attend the final hearing to get the final divorce decree. Yet in fact, things are more complicated, and even the couple eligible for a DIY-divorce may face some difficulties in each phase of the process. Is that a cause to give up and abandon the idea of a cheap divorce? Definitely not!
Fortunately, for those willing to take on the responsibility of arranging an inexpensive divorce without a lawyer, there are many additional services designed to help out and still save money.
Divorce mediation, counseling, parenting classes, online divorce paperwork preparation, electronic filing, and so on – all these features do not assume legal advice but can make a divorce process much more comfortable for a self-represented litigant.
Online Divorce. Terms and Benefits
Being a way to complete divorce papers without a lawyer, online divorce is a perfect option for an uncontested and agreed divorce.
Online divorce allows preparing the document for divorce over the internet – you no longer have to go to the courthouse or clerk’s office to gather and fill out the required forms. Also, you do not need to learn divorce laws, trying to understand what forms are necessary in your case or sort out the tones of papers. And finally, though divorce lawyers assist with uncontested cases, charging not an hourly rate (like for contested divorce) but more affordable flat fees, these fees are still more costly than a service of online divorce papers preparation.
Thus online divorce helps everyone who hates bureaucracy issues to save both time and money and, no less important, to keep calm during this challenging period.
How online divorce works?
- You should choose one of the online divorce providers. Nowadays, there are plenty of similar websites. Please be careful and pay attention to the company’s reputation and customer reviews.
- Then, you should log into the website, make sure your case is qualified to be prepared online, and answer an online interview. This will allow the service to get the info concerning your divorce case, and gather the correct divorce forms following the state law and your circumstances.
- A couple of days after that, you will receive notification that the unique divorce paperwork kit is ready. You can download the documents, print them, complete, sign, and submit them with the court.
Be sure that you will probably spend less time in the courthouse than those who came there to fill out all the paperwork by themselves. Legal forms may be pretty tricky, and even a tiny mistake or misprint leads to the fact that you need to fill it all over again. A lot of people get stuck on this stage, but most reputable online divorce companies ensure that the court approves the paperwork at first try, and even offer refund otherwise.
And finally, the main advantage. The average cost of online divorce services (charged from a couple, not by each spouse) varies between $130 and $300, while attorneys’ fees for uncontested divorce usually start from $600.
After drafting divorce papers online, those who want trying to arrange an “web” divorce may resort to electronic filing.
Yes, you can apply for a divorce without leaving home. However, not all states yet recognize e-filing for divorce, so you should check this. E-filing for divorce assumes registering with one of the e-filing providers and sending your signed petition to the court online. Then, the court sends it back, but with an electronic seal on it. This means that divorce has officially started. Roughly speaking, the filing process is all the same as usual, but this can be a good option for the people with a busy schedule.
You can learn more about online divorce by following the site.
Divorce Mediation or Counseling
Divorce mediation is one more way how to go through the divorce challenges without spending a vast amount of money on an attorney.
Divorce mediation implies that the spouses meet with the neutral third part of the dispute – mediator or counselor – who helps them to compromise, to find mutually beneficial solutions, and to create a reasonable and working settlement agreement or parenting plan.
Mediation is a non-competitive process, and the spouses should try to negotiate and make decisions jointly. But since divorce is cheaper and easier when it is more friendly – the skill of negotiations is genuinely essential.
In some states, the court can even order the couple to attend the mediation sessions, especially if the spouses have underage children.
Go here to know more about divorce mediation.
Rarely divorce is an easy or enjoyable experience, even if it was your informed decision. But what you can definitely do now is to “compensate” for your complicated emotions and feelings by making the process as quick and affordable as possible. Good luck with that!