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Guide to getting divorced

Learn how to protect your finances when filing for divorce.

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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By the time you or your partner has come to the difficult decision to divorce, the last thing you want to think about is navigating a potentially complicated and expensive process. Learn more about what to expect and what can help you can gain control and begin moving on.

Types of divorce

There are two types of divorce in the US: contested and uncontested.

When filing for a divorce, first assess your personal situation to determine whether you and your spouse can come to an agreement on how you’d like the process to unfold.

No matter what type of divorce you pursue, the emotional effects of a marital breakup can be severe. Sorting your affairs and merely adjusting to your new reality can be exhausting and daunting, so set aside time for self-care and reflection when you can.

What is uncontested divorce?

Your divorce is uncontested if you and your spouse agree on the full terms of your divorce. For most uncontested divorces, you will not have to appear in court. Instead, you can draft an agreement, complete the appropriate forms, and then send those forms to the court.

You do not need an attorney for an uncontested divorce. As long as you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all matters related to your divorce, it’s considered a more straightforward dissolution of marriage.

Because every state is different, confirm with your state its procedures for pursuing an uncontested divorce — you may even be able to get an online divorce.

Compare the best online divorce services

An online divorce service offers a fast option for marital separation if the divorce is uncontested and the couple can agree on the terms of the divorce. You can find an in-depth breakdown of the pros and cons of each of these platforms with our guide to the best 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
Yes
No
Phone, Email
File within one business day of your start date with 3StepDivorce and qualify for a $50 cash rebate. Payment plans available.
OnlineDivorce.com
$139
No - you must file and pay court fees
Yes
No
Phone, Email
Ready-to-file divorce forms for one flat fee. Step-by-step directions to help simplify uncontested divorces.
LegalZoom online divorce
$499
No - you must file and pay court fees
Yes
Yes
Phone, Email, Live chat
File for an uncontested divorce online or find legal resources to help guide you through the divorce process.
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What is contested divorce?

If you and your spouse cannot agree on the full terms of your divorce, your divorce is considered contested. This type of divorce is more complicated, requiring numerous steps — serving the divorce petition, attorney negotiations and more — before your divorce is considered finalized.

You may need to hire a divorce lawyer if you can’t agree on property or custody. However, even with a lawyer, you may be able to work out your divorce settlement out of court. A major drawback to lawyers is that they’re expensive — expect to pay at least $15,000, with higher costs if you can’t avoid court or have especially complicated circumstances.

Signing up for an attorney payment plan or taking out a personal loan are two ways to help pay for the high costs of divorce.

Ask an expert

Debra Opri
  • Debra Opri
  • Litigation attorney
  • Founder and partner of Opri & Associates

Watch our full interview with Debra Opri below:

How much does divorce cost?

Every divorce is going to have different issues arise, so you can’t really know exactly how much a divorce will cost until it’s happening. Here are some of the most common costs:

  • Filing fee (minimum of $100). Once you file the papers with the court, you pay a filing fee, usually a minimum of $100. If you can’t afford the fee, you may be able to get the court to waive it for you by filling out additional paperwork, provided by the court clerk’s office.
  • Uncontested divorce ($300 to $500). The cost varies by your state’s required forms and filing procedures. Compare that cost to an attorney, which could charge from $5,000 to $10,000 or more for the same forms and similar services.
  • Private professionals ($100 to $1000). Even if you and your spouse disagree on some issues, you may be able to avoid going to court through mediation. A divorce mediator remains neutral throughout the process while helping you hammer out the details of your divorce agreement. Private professionals can charge by the hour or by session with costs that vary widely — from $100 to $1,000 or more per hour.

Cheap online divorce services under $150

Divorce and children

Although both you and your spouse will suffer some emotional and financial stress in the face of a divorce, it’s often children who are most affected. If you have children, make sure their needs are met as you and your spouse work out the details of your divorce.

If possible, keep your kids on a regular routine to ensure they can be successful in school, socialize with peers and participate in the activities they enjoy. By striving to keep your home as warm and routine as possible, you can minimize the confusion children will inevitably feel with such a life change.

Legal requirements

In some states, parents are required to attend co-parenting classes as part of the divorce process. These classes are intended to help parents learn how to cooperate in their separate lives for the overall well-being of their kids, maintaining stability within the family even as the parents live apart. These classes can help you focus on a loving way to lead your children through this big change.

Get guidance from a professional service to help manage your divorce.

Name Product Pros Cons
Rocket Lawyer
  • Instant access to a library of user friendly legal documents
  • Fast access to a network of certified lawyers
  • Free 30-minute consultations
  • Reduced rates in select services
  • Services can get expensive
Rocket Lawyer gives you access to legal documents, legal advice and representation seamlessly — plus, they offer a seven-day free trial.
LegalShield
  • Coverage for you, your spouse, partner and dependent children
  • Legal advice and representation
  • Letters and phone calls on your behalf
  • Legal document review
  • Add ons can get expensive
LegalShield aims to make comprehensive legal coverage simple.
Nolo
  • Legal information all in one place
  • Free searches for attorneys
  • Software and documents to streamline legal operations
  • Advice for do-it-yourself legal work
  • It may be difficult to know where to start
Legal forms and online documents, books, & software.
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Bottom line

The decision to end a marriage can be fraught with worry and confusion of the unknown. It can take a lot of time and you may not know where to start. But by thinking about your situation clearly and taking conscious actions throughout the process, you can come through it with your finances unscathed.

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    CheyenneApril 26, 2018

    I am getting divorced online and am paying the $299 for them to processs the divorce and serve the papers themselves. I was wondering if I upgraded to the premium and have them serve and file the paper work, if I’ll still have to pay a filing fee with the court.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniApril 26, 2018Staff

      Hi Cheyenne.

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      As a friendly reminder, while we do not represent any company we feature on our pages, we can offer you general advice.

      If you upgrade to premium online divorce solution that helps you prepare your own state and county specific divorce forms addressing your property, debt, children, and any other relevant issues. You will easily complete your divorce forms and follow the step-by-step filing procedures to file your own divorce in a timely and professional fashion.

      I suggest that you contact these experts that you seek help with and they would confirm if you need to pay a filing fee with the court or is it included when you upgrade.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

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