Our top pick: 3 Step Divorce
- For uncontested divorces
- Pay a flat-fee of $299
- Ready-to-file divorce forms
- Court approved forms or your money back
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The average cost of divorce with an attorney is over $10,000, according to Martindale-Nolo Research’s 2019 divorce survey. For couples who go to court, the average cost doubles to $20,000. But not all divorces need to cost thousands of dollars. Opting for an online divorce service and going through mediation rather than litigation are two ways to cut down on costs.
The most inexpensive way to get divorced is by filing yourself. An online divorce service can help you fill out the legal forms if you have an uncontested divorce. If you have a contested divorce, consider mediation first before filing.
Do-it-yourself online divorce services help you prepare the legal forms you’ll need to file for divorce. You and your spouse must agree to four major issues — including division of debt, property, alimony and child custody — to fill in your legal documents. You’ll answer a series of questions, and the online divorce service will populate the relevant fields of your forms.
Once you’ve completed your forms, you’ll sign them, serve your spouse and then take all the documents to your local county clerk to officially file for divorce. Some online divorce services will help serve your spouse and file the divorce packet with the courts on your behalf.
Keep in mind that many online divorce services don’t include the state filing fee in their cost, so you’ll need to factor in anywhere from $50 to $450 to file your papers with the courts.
Mediation uses a neutral party to help facilitate negotiations between you and your spouse. Mediators don’t give legal advice, but help couples resolve disputes in a private meeting. In most cases, mediation helps avoid court costs.
One mediation session generally lasts two hours. Depending on the number of issues you and your spouse need to resolve and how flexible both parties are, you could have multiple sessions spread out over a few months.
Ideally, by the end of mediation, you and your spouse will agree on the terms and walk out with a fully enforceable divorce settlement for an uncontested divorce. You’ll then be able to gather the rest of your divorce forms using an online divorce service to officially file for divorce.
Yes, some states have divorce forms available for free download on their county clerk website. If your state law doesn’t require a notarized signature, you and your spouse can fill out the forms and submit them to the courts.
You’ll also need to submit a fee waiver form to request that the court waives your divorce filing fee. While each state has different procedures and criteria for its fee waiver, you’ll typically need to show proof of financial hardship to qualify.
Here’s how to keep your divorce costs as low as possible:
These are the most affordable online divorce preparation services available:
|Online divorce service||Cost and fees||Services and features offered||State availability||More info|
|DivorceWriter||$137||Not available in Missouri|
|OnlineDivorce.com||$139||All 50 states|
|MyDivorcePapers||$139||Available in all 50 states|
|3 Step Divorce||$299 — with monthly payments as low as $84||Available in all 50 states|
If you don’t qualify for an online divorce, here are a few resources and tips to help keep legal costs down:
A divorce is a civil case that falls under family law. When you file a civil case, you’ll need to pay a state filing fee that ranges anywhere from $50 to $450. Fortunately, each state allows you to apply for a fee waiver.
Speak to the county clerk at your local courthouse to get a fee waiver application. Each state has a different process, but you’ll generally need to submit income documentation — such as pay stubs and tax returns — that prove the filing fee would be a financial hardship.
If a judge approves your fee waiver, the clerk will process your divorce case. If your application is denied, you may appeal the decision or choose to pay the fee to proceed with your divorce case.
A divorce doesn’t need to cost thousands of dollars. The cheapest way to get un-hitched is to skip the attorney and file the paperwork yourself.
Find an online divorce service to guide you through the process and handle the legal jargon for you.
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