The Ultimate Guide to a Quick & Cheap Divorce
Table of Contents
- Uncontested Divorce (Cheapest)
- Contested Divorce (Expensive)
- HELPFUL TIPS!
- STEP 1:
- Steps for Filing a Cheap Divorce Online
- STEP 2:
- Options to Save Money on Your Divorce Paperwork
- Three options to keep your divorce cheap:
- 1. Find Free Divorce forms on State Government sites (Free – Time to filing: 4+ Weeks)
- 2. Use of an Online Document Preparation Service ($159 – $299 – Time to Filing: 40 minutes )
- 3. Buy Divorce Forms Online ($60 or less – Time to filing: 3+ Weeks)
- 4. File Divorce Online Using E-Filing (limited)
- Get Information about the E-Filing Process
- STEP 2:
- Send a Legal Notice to Your Spouse
- STEP 3:
- Follow the Procedure of Divorce after Filing
- In the case of a contested divorce:
- Check Whether You Need to Attend a Trial or Hearing
- Be Prepared for Your Trial
- STEP 4:
- Finalizing Your Low Cost Divorce
If you and your spouse do not agree on the divorce or on dividing property, childcare/visitation, or alimony, you will NOT be able to file a quick and Cheap divorce!
Now that we have got that out the way, there are two types of divorce – uncontested and contested. You and your spouse want an Uncontested divorce (Cost $159 to $399) to avoid a high costing divorce ($7,000 – $15,000+). Whats the difference?
Uncontested Divorce (Cheapest)
If your spouse and you agree on the major terms of the divorce, uncontested divorces are the easiest kind and take the least amount of time. Most of the time, for uncontested divorces, you do not require to appear in court. All you need to do is prepare an agreement, fill out the necessary forms and send the completed forms to the court.
Typically, uncontested divorces are much quicker as you agree with your spouse on most of the major issues such as:
- Spouse support
- Property division
- Division of debt
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Health and life insurance
- Education, religion, etc.
Contested Divorce (Expensive)
A contested divorce is when your spouse and you do not agree on some or all the issues of the divorce such as property issues or child custody, etc. However, if your spouse and you disagree on certain issues, then via mediation and other alternative methods, you may be able to keep the divorce proceedings from going to the court.
So, if you’re looking for a fast divorce, then an uncontested divorce is the best way and this will also help to save on your legal fees, allow you to get through the entire process much faster than a contested divorce and also causes much lesser stress.
If you and your spouse agree on everything and the divorce is uncontested, the cheapest and fastest way to file a divorce is to use an online divorce service. Using an online divorce service for paperwork preparation can make the process easier and will save you a lot of money. Our favorite provider (MyDivorcePapers.com) charges $159 and offers many great features to help you complete the paperwork in minutes.
Instead of hiring a lawyer, use an online service like JustAnswer.com who has a very large list of divorce lawyers ready to answer all of your divorce questions for a low cost.
Steps for Filing a Cheap Divorce Online
- If your spouse and you decide on all the terms of the divorce then you can file for your divorce by making use of an online divorce service for document preparation, without an attorney. However, if you are unable to agree to the terms and conditions, you will need an attorney so that your interests are protected.
- The attorney you hire will prepare all the documents pertaining to your divorce.
- If you plan to file online without an attorney, your spouse and you must agree on the following:
- Division of property.
- Alimony and spousal support.
- Child custody, visitation rights and child support.
Options to Save Money on Your Divorce Paperwork
First, you need to decide on the state and the county to get a divorce in. The county depends on the place you live in. For instance, in Florida, you can file for a divorce in the county where your spouse or you live in, irrespective of the time you have lived there. Whereas, in California or Texas you should have lived in the county for 90 days before filing for divorce.
Today, many couples are opting to end their marriage and get a divorce online, which is becoming quite a popular method of getting a divorce. There are several companies which make available the divorce forms online and the websites prepare your forms on the basis of the information provided by you.
Some online companies have attorneys or paralegals who review your papers, whereas in other cases you have a DIY format, where you need to fill out the divorce forms on your own.
Three options to keep your divorce cheap:
1. Take a trip down to your local county court to get divorce forms or find a place to buy online
2. Use an online divorce service as suggested in the helpful section
3. If offered by your state, use e-filing
1. Find Free Divorce forms on State Government sites (Free – Time to filing: 4+ Weeks)
The main problem with this method is that its get pretty confusing fast as to what forms to use. To help with this, try visiting the website of the court where you plan to file your divorce for help. Most of the websites of the courts have the links to the forms required for the divorce but aren’t the best in explaining them in a simple to understand manner.
Every state requires forms including:
- Divorce petition
- Financial Affidavit: This includes a complete disclosure of your spouse’s and your financial situation and also the division of your assets and debts.
- Summons: The summons causes the sheriff or the process server to inform your spouse of your filing for divorce and that they must respond. This form is required even if your spouse and you fill out the forms together.
- Hearing Notice: When the court allocates the date for your divorce hearing, the notice of hearing is filed.
- Answer and Affidavit: If your spouse does not wish to attend the hearing, by sending in this document, he/she can agree to the terms of the divorce.
- Custody Agreement: In the case of a child or children, this form details out the custody arrangements.
- Settlement Agreement: This form gives all the details about your assets.
2. Use of an Online Document Preparation Service ($159 – $299 – Time to Filing: 40 minutes )
Using an online divorce service is a lot of the times the cheapest option if you add time to the equation. Using these services will allow for you complete your divorce paperwork in as little as 30 minutes! The process is simple, you answer questions based on your situation and the forms will be automatically filled out and reviewed by a person at the company you use.
Once the forms are completed, the online document preparation service will either file the papers for you or you can do it on your own. Typically, for such services online document preparation services charge around $159-$299 to fill out the divorce forms according to the specific state. Look for an online document preparation company that has positive reviews on BBB (Better Business Bureau) to ensure that they are authentic or simply look at our in-dept reviews of the best services.
3. Buy Divorce Forms Online ($60 or less – Time to filing: 3+ Weeks)
There are sites online that will allow you to simply buy the divorce forms online for less than $60 dollars. These forms are somewhat standard but most of these companies offer a guarantee if the forms are not accepted at the local court house. Additionally, the cost is more than fair but the big issue is the time commitment you need to make to figure out what forms you need, what you should do in unique situations, how to put down debts and expense and so on. If you are a person that wants to try and navigate this without any help, jump right in and buy divorce papers online. A good company you can use is Findlegalforms.com and they offer divorce forms for spouses with or without children.
4. File Divorce Online Using E-Filing (limited)
Get Information about the E-Filing Process
Some state courts allow you to file your divorce form online instead of doing it at the courthouse. Check the court’s website to determine if the state allows you to file your papers electronically. Even if your state allows you to e-file your papers, you may have to use an attorney to file your forms, as several courts allow only attorneys to e-file who use the service by paying a fee.
If the state allows you to e-file your divorce papers without an attorney, you may have to pay a fee for the service. Whether you file your documents at the courthouse or file it online, you will need to pay a filing fee which varies according to each state. You may also require paying an extra fee to use the e-filing, which is usually around $20 in most states.
If the forms are available online in your state, you can fill them on your computer and the details required to fill the forms include your spouse’s and your:
- Complete address
- Social security number
- License number
- Names and ages of your children
- Date of marriage
- Date of separation
- Grounds for divorce
- If there is a protective order or not
- Property owned
If you have any doubts about filling the forms or need any clarification, you can call the court clerk where you plan to file for divorce and he/she will be able to help you regarding the forms or the process. You can also have the clerk to check your completed forms.
Send a Legal Notice to Your Spouse
Once you have filed for divorce either via a document preparation company or online, the copies of the papers must be given to your spouse as legal notice and this can done by:
- Serving your spouse the papers through certified or registered mail or in person via a process server.
- Serving the papers to your spouse by publication in a general newspaper if you cannot find your spouse.
- However, before you serve legal notice to your spouse, ensure the laws in your state to determine the kind of service that is allowed as the divorce could be dismissed by the court if the notice is not served in the manner authorized by the state.
Follow the Procedure of Divorce after Filing
If your divorce is uncontested, then you to need fill out some final forms to complete the divorce procedure such as the agreement form, declaration of divorce, etc. Every state has different forms required for this step, so ensure that you fill out the correct forms.
In the case of a contested divorce:
- You may agree on some issues with your spouse but not on others. In such cases, you would need to write the things you agree on and let the other disputed issues to be decided by the judge.
- Some states require mediation for contested divorces and if you are able to agree on the terms during mediation, you can save money, time and the stress.
- If there are issues that cannot be resolved by agreement, then either your spouse or you must file and serve a form to enable the trial date to be set.
Check the progress of your divorce as this can take many months. Ensure that you complete all the documents and attend any mediation sessions or hearings.
Check Whether You Need to Attend a Trial or Hearing
- This is not required by all states in the case of uncontested divorces. Check the state’s court website if your state requires a trial in the case of an uncontested divorce. In the case of a contested divorce, there will most definitely be a hearing.
- In the case that there is going to be a trial or hearing, ensure that your spouse and you have filled all the documents and met all the requirements for the trial.
- The date and time of your hearing will be intimated to you by mail.
Be Prepared for Your Trial
Have all the paperwork ready to bring to the court. Uncontested divorces, where you agree on all issues, can also take several months to go through. Not having all your paperwork can delay the process further. In the case that yours is an uncontested divorce, then you may be granted whatever you have agreed upon and asked for. However, a contested divorce may be a full hearing with witnesses, testimony, etc., in which you may require the help of an attorney to prepare for.
Finalizing Your Low Cost Divorce
- Once your hearing is complete, you will be granted your divorce by the judge and in the case that the divorce is contested, the judge will set the terms and the complete agreement between your spouse and you will be ordered in the divorce decree, which is the proof of your divorce.
- Ensure that you receive a copy of your divorce decree that has been certified, which you will require in the future if you want to get remarried, buy a house, etc.
Now that you have gone through our comprehensive step-by-step guide of how you can file for a divorce online quickly and cheaply without a huge chunk of your savings on legal fees, going through the process of divorce may not be such a painful and traumatic process after all.
Divorce can be a harrowing process and may have you very worried about how much time the entire process of divorce is going to take, how much money you will end up spending on the legal costs for the divorce and whether you are making the right decision at all. However, if you have decided to get a divorce, it need not necessarily be a long, expensive or a stressful process. A divorce can be very amicable.
If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage and your relations with your spouse is cordial even after this decision, your divorce can be a very easy and quick process, as it will not involve a trial. The divorce process need not be a stretched-out process that will drag on for years or months. If you can come to an amicable agreement with your spouse about the various things such as division of property, support, custody and visitation rights in case of a child or children, then the divorce proceedings can go through very quickly.