Going through a divorce is never easy. Unfortunately, fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. This can involve a lot of emotions, and the more contentious and emotional the split, the more difficult and costlier it will become. Most of the money will be legal fees, and attorneys charge by the hour. Since divorce proceedings can drag out for a year, billable hours accumulate very rapidly.
Unless there is a great deal of acrimony or money involved, there are ways of lowering the expense of splitting up. Needless to say, if there are children involved, both parties should consider having a legal representative. Otherwise, there may be different and cheaper options available.
The Cost of an Average Divorce
A standard divorce can cost up to $30,000. The exact amount can vary, but it still will be a great deal of money at a time when two people are starting over and find themselves at a low point financially. If both parties can come to an agreement, there are ways of avoiding those high attorney fees. In some cases, a non-contested divorce can be arranged for under $500.
When both parties agree on the division of assets and support, the divorce is uncontested. This makes the divorce process easier, cheaper, and considerably faster. By removing the complications of an expensive and bitter trial, everyone can emerge happier.
Using Online Divorce Forms
Finding all necessary required forms for a divorce online is easy and inexpensive. They can be found by clicking on your local family law or divorce court site. These forms should come with clear instructions on how to fill in all pertinent information required by the court. While any divorce process can be overwhelming, following easy instructions can alleviate much of the burden and headache. All you need to do is fill out the forms and take them to the clerk of your local divorce or family court. This works extremely well when both of you are in agreement about most or all issues. With the cost of using online divorce forms under $200, the procedure can be relatively cost-efficient.
Online Divorce with Children
Divorce can be made much more complicated when children are involved. If you are using online forms and have minor children, you need to fill out the necessary custody forms.
There are several types of custody. One parent can have sole custody, with visitations agreed upon by both parents. Some parents opt for shared custody, where the child shifts equally between both parents.
These custody agreements must be filed along with the divorce papers. Using online custody agreement forms when both parents are in agreement about all arrangements can work. However, it might be a good idea to have an attorney review the custody agreements prior to filing. The issue is too important to risk any errors.
Obtaining a Waiver for Court Fees
If you can prove financial hardship, there are ways to obtain a waiver for all of the court fees pertaining to a divorce. This can be extremely helpful if you are struggling financially.
Fee waiver forms are available from the same websites as standard divorce forms. Print them out along with the other forms. You can also get fee waiver forms from the clerk at the courthouse. A clerk can answer questions you have when filling out the forms.
To obtain a waiver of filing fees, you will be required to provide proof of indigence and financial hardship. That includes income statements from employment, Social Security, disability, or any other source. You should have a list of assets, including home, automobile, and any bank accounts. You will also be required to show debts, such as outstanding loans, credit card bills, or other financial obligations. The clerk may request a copy of your tax returns as well.
This may appear to be a lot of paperwork, but the information would need to be provided during any type of divorce proceedings, including those involving attorneys. Providing this information is simply customary procedure.
The court can waive your fee or delay payment for another time. A delay can happen if one party will be receiving assets as part of a settlement agreement and the court includes the fees in the settlement.
Once the matter of fees has been settled, both parties can appear before a judge and discuss the agreed-upon settlement. If there is no contest, the divorce can move forward with only one party appearing in court.
Filing with the Clerk
The clerk’s office will be located in your county. You may want to call before going to the courthouse to find out how many copies of the divorce forms are required. Be sure to retain a copy for your own records. The clerk can answer questions regarding your forms, but he or she cannot provide legal advice.
While you are there, the clerk will collect the necessary fees (unless waived). You will receive a notice in the mail with the date of the divorce hearing. While the procedure can vary, you may be able to obtain a divorce at the initial hearing if there are no issues that need to be resolved.
Using an Online Divorce Attorney
If you want to make sure all your rights are protected, you can find a divorce attorney online. This service will have you provide all relevant information to your situation. You will be able to ask questions online and receive answers. The online attorney can also help you fill out the necessary divorce forms.
The cost of an online divorce attorney is around $500.00, which is considerably less than hiring an actual attorney.
Be aware that not all online divorce services are provided by actual attorneys. Some may be paralegals. To assure that you get the best advice from an online attorney, choose a local online law firm that is familiar with local procedures. An online attorney can provide guidance through the divorce process and prevent you from making any mistakes.
Using a Mediator
You and your spouse may be agreeable on most issues and thus able to control your own divorce without the presence of any attorneys. Still, you may find yourselves unable to come to terms on everything, such as a visitation schedule for the children or support issues.
If everything else is flowing smoothly, you may still resolve the matter through the use of a mediator. A mediator may not always be an attorney, but he or she will be a qualified professional. The mediator represents neither you nor your spouse, but functions as a neutral entity to help both of you arrive at an agreement. He or she will help facilitate communication, introduce suggestions, and help you see both sides of the issue. This isn’t always easy during the divorce process when bitterness and anger can run high. The presence of a mediator can be invaluable under those circumstances.
The number of mediating sessions depends on how willing you and your spouse are to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
The average cost for a mediator can be over $3,000, which is still less expensive than a divorce attorney and possibly a great deal more helpful. A successful mediation should leave both parties with a satisfactory feeling.
The Advantages of Using an Attorney
Besides the high cost involved, a distinct advantage of controlling your own divorce is that it makes it easier to deal with each other instead of communicating through attorneys. However, there are times you may need an attorney to proceed with your divorce, even if it is uncontested.
This is the case when custody and visitation issues become overly complicated, which can happen especially if one of the parties is moving or has moved out-of-state. In addition, the division of property and distribution of pension plans may require the input of a professional.
Also, when parties have reached a high state of animosity and actions are taken merely to hurt the other party, the rational voice of an attorney may be needed – especially if children are being used as revenge pawns during or after a divorce.
Divorce can be expensive, but there are ways to make it more affordable. The more you can work together with your soon-to-be-ex toward a resolution, the more money you can save and the more quickly you can move through the process and ahead with your lives.