Getting divorced can be expensive. Court fees can cost up to $500 and if you hire a lawyer, you can expect to pay $100 an hour at the very least. Follow these steps to find legal information about divorce as well as low-cost legal resources to help you with the process.
- Read all you can. Divorce can be a complicated process, especially if you own property with your spouse or if you have children and you have to address custody and child support.
- Find valuable information online. Read articles written by lawyers on sites such as Avvo on divorce and separation, child custody, and child support. Be careful with websites that sell products and services.
- Also, visit your local library and ask the librarian for help finding books and resources on divorce.
- Learn about the laws in your state. The divorce process and the way custody and child support work vary by state. Look up your state government’s website on USA.gov. Then do a search for “divorce,” “custody” or “child support” on your state’s fgovernment website to find specific information.
- Find a lawyer that specializes in family law/divorce. Start by asking for recommendations from friends and family. You can also search for a family law attorney on the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers website or contact your state or local Bar Association. Meet with at least two attorneys to explain your situation and make sure you feel comfortable working with that person. You can ask for a free consultation. After the consultation, you can expect to pay at least $100 an hour and the attorney will work on your case for many hours. Read these five tips before meeting with a lawyer to keep the costs down. If you can’t afford to pay an attorney per hour, you could subscribe to Pre-paid Legal Services. For $16 a month you can get unlimited hours of phone consultation and document reviews provided by a family law attorney. If you want to hire the attorney to handle your case, this service will give you 25 percent off their standard hourly rate.
- Prepare your own divorce documents online and have them reviewed by a family law attorney.
- Step 1: If you and your spouse agree on the basic terms of the divorce, you may be able to use an online service to prepare your divorce documents as an uncontested divorce. You fill out an online questionnaire which will be used to prepare your documents. LegalZoom offers this service for $299. You’ll have 30 days to review and make changes to the documents.
- Step 2 (IMPORTANT): Pay a family law attorney or use Pre-paid Legal Services to review the legal documents prepared online to make sure you are not agreeing to something that you may regret in the future.
- Work with a family mediator specializing in divorce. If you and your spouse are close to agreeing on the terms of the divorce, you could hire a mediator. The mediator meets with the husband and wife to help them resolve any issues that they can’t agree on. In states where mediation is not required, mediation can be a less expensive alternative to going to court. The mediator is neutral and doesn’t give legal advice. If your case is particularly difficult, you could hire a lawyer to come with you to the mediation sessions.
Other resources that may be helpful include:
Emotional Coping with Divorce:
- Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. & Kathryn Patricelli, MA and Mental Health America (MHA)
- Life After Divorce: 3 Survival Strategies from WebMD
Getting help for the kids: