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How to get a cheap divorce

It’s possible to consciously uncouple for less than $600 — or even for free.

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 2 cheapest ways to get divorced

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.

Cheap uncontested divorce: DIY online divorce service

  • Who qualifies: Couples who agree on the terms of the divorce
  • Average cost: $150 to $1,500 + your state filing fee

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.

Cheap contested divorce: Mediation + DIY online divorce service

  • Who qualifies: Couples trying to negotiate terms of their settlement agreement
  • Average cost: $1,500 for mediation + $150 to $1,500 for the DIY online divorce service + your state filing fee

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.

How divorce mediation works

Is it possible to get divorced for free?

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.

How to get a cheap divorce in 8 steps

Here’s how to keep your divorce costs as low as possible:

  1. See if you qualify for a DIY divorce online. Most providers have a short questionnaire you can complete online to see if you’re eligible for its services. You’ll generally need to meet state residency requirements and have an uncontested divorce to be eligible.
  2. If the divorce is contested over a few issues, hire a divorce mediator first. But if you and your spouse agree on all points, skip to step 4.
  3. Participate in mediation to come up with a resolution for all contested issues. You and your spouse will work with a professional mediator to help resolve disputes.
  4. Compare cheap DIY online divorce services. Find a provider that fits your budget, offers the services you need and guarantees your paperwork will be accepted by the courts.
  5. Get the forms and fill out the paperwork. Answer a few questions, and the service will complete all the legal documents you need.
  6. File the paperwork with the courts. Take your documents to your local county clerk to submit your divorce packet. Some states allow you to file for divorce on its website electronically.
  7. Pay the court fees. You’ll need to pay the court filing fee or request a fee waiver.
  8. Wait to hear back about whether your paperwork is accepted. The court will finalize your divorce or contact you if there’s a problem with your documents.

4 cheapest online divorce services

These are the most affordable online divorce preparation services available:

Online divorce serviceCost and feesServices and features offeredState availabilityMore info
  • Prepares your legal documents for you
  • Unlimited revisions for 2 years
  • Print or have your forms mailed to you
  • Detailed state-specific filing instructions
  • Guarantees court approval of documents or your money back
Not available in Missouri$139
  • Price match if you find a cheaper option
  • Prepares your legal documents for you
  • Free name change and revisions
  • Detailed state-specific filing instructions
  • Guarantees court approval of documents or your money back
  • Option to have your spouse served and documents filed with the courts for an extra fee
All 50 statesReview
  • Prepares your legal forms for you
  • Legal staff will verify your documents
  • Print or have your forms mailed to you
  • Detailed filing instructions
  • Guarantees court approval of documents or your money back
Available in all 50 statesReview
3 Step Divorce$299 — with monthly payments as low as $84
  • Generates your legal documents for you
  • Free revisions
  • Print or have your forms mailed to you
  • Step-by-step filing instructions
  • Guarantees court approval of documents or your money back
Available in all 50 statesReviewGo to Site

Compare online divorce services

Name Product Cost Includes filing papers with court? File without spouse Legal assistance available Customer service
3 Step Divorce
$299 - $336
No - you must file and pay court fees
Phone, Email
File within one business day of your start date with 3StepDivorce and qualify for a $50 cash rebate. Payment plans available.
No - you must file and pay court fees
Phone, Email
Ready-to-file divorce forms for one flat fee. Step-by-step directions to help simplify uncontested divorces.
LegalZoom online divorce
No - you must file and pay court fees
Phone, Email, Live chat
File for an uncontested divorce online or find legal resources to help guide you through the divorce process.
$3,450 – $5,850
Yes - included in price
Phone, Email, Live chat
A self-guided collaborative divorce process that helps you and your spouse work out the terms of your divorce.
No - you must file and pay court fees
Phone, Email, Live chat
A dedicated case manager can help you complete the forms online and file the documents — all services have a 100% money back guarantee.

Compare up to 4 providers

5 ways to keep legal costs low during a divorce

If you don’t qualify for an online divorce, here are a few resources and tips to help keep legal costs down:

  • Organize your financial records before meeting with your attorney. If you must hire an attorney, have all of your financial documents together. The less time a lawyer needs to find missing documents and make sense of your files, the more you’ll save.
  • Send emails, don’t call. Most lawyers charge for phone calls. You can minimize communication by sending concise emails. Writing emails can help you avoid over-communicating on the phone and running up your bill before you have your thoughts together.
  • Reach out to your local legal aid society. You might be eligible for low-cost or free assistance from your local legal aid society — a federally funded, nonprofit organization that serves low-income families.
  • Look into pro bono programs through the ABA. Check the American Bar Association (ABA) for pro bono programs that match low-income families with volunteer lawyers that’ll take your case for free. You can also get answers to legal questions for free through the ABA’s virtual legal advice clinic.
  • Research legal assistance programs in your state. Your state may also offer legal aid services that can give you free legal advice. Find out what programs are available where you live by visiting your state’s department of human services website.

Look into your state’s indigent divorce fee waivers

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.

Bottom line

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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