Many couples faced with divorce are dealing with numerous stresses and concerns. One of them almost always is money. New issues arise in transitioning from a two income family to a one income individual; and then there’s the financial burden that actually getting a legal divorce brings with it.
Divorce doesn’t have to be costly; there are options for almost every couple faced with divorce making it affordable – or at least not as costly as commonly assumed. Most couples assume that using a lawyer is the only way to divorce and while there are numerous benefits to this, it’s not the only alternative, especially if your divorce is relatively uncomplicated.
7 Ways to Divorce on a Shoestring Budget
1. Do it Yourself: Online Services, Classes, and Books
The internet has made once hard to find services available to virtually anyone who can get online. This is true with divorces too. A simple online divorce search will result in hundreds of online divorce services. Many of these services offer ‘divorce kits’ guaranteed to help you file and complete a simple divorce. If you live in California and you and your spouse agree to the terms of your divorce settlement agreement, you can use our Fast and Friendly Divorce system, which includes step-by-step instructions, sample forms, and all the blank legal forms you need to get divorced in California without going to court or hiring attorneys. You can instantly download the Fast and Friendly divorce system by clicking on this link.
Although many of these services deliver just what they promise you must be sure to choose a reputable company who meets your specific divorce needs. State divorce laws vary by each state and a kit that claims to work for all states should be avoided. You’ll want information pertaining to your exact situation; children, property, income, etc.
Books are another great way to guide you in the divorce process. From understanding what will happen in court to actually representing yourself from the filing stage to completion; books are available to provide you with the information and resources you need.
If your divorce is uncontested and you’re on relatively amicable terms with your soon to be ex, using a mediator is a great choice. Mediators often charge considerably less money than attorneys and basically facilitate an agreement that you and your former partner work out.
The mediator doesn’t take sides nor do they provide legal advice. They help both parties to openly and honestly work towards a common goal: divorce. Mediators are trained to help couples work through issues such as child custody, property division, alimony, and other common divorce topics.
3. Legal Aid
Most states offer legal aid services for individuals that qualify. Qualifications are usually based on income, disability, age, evidence of abuse in marriage, etc.
4. Pro Bono
There are lawyers and family law practices that do pro bono work. Pro bono means ‘for the public good.’ Depending on your situation you may be able to find a lawyer who will represent you for free or significantly reduced rates.
Your state and local bar associations may also help you find free legal services or lawyers who will answer questions on the phone (for a fee) through their lawyer referral services.
5. Law Students/ Law Schools
Check your local colleges or universities with law schools and legal “clinic” programs. Many law departments allow law students (who’ve reached a certain level of training) to represent clients in divorce cases or advise them under the guidance of their professor, who is usually a licensed attorney. These are free services and there are usually qualifying guidelines for this representation.
A few notable legal clinics include, Harvard Law School’s Family Law Clinic (617–390–2586), The Dickinson School of Law’s Family Law Clinic (717–240–5204) and Pepperdine University Union Rescue Mission Family Law Clinic (213–347–6300 ext. 4413) in Los Angeles, California. To find a law school clinic, contact the administrative office of law schools in or near your city.
Also if you’re a college graduate your school may offer free legal advice to you, their alumni. Check the school you graduated from to see if you can get free or low cost legal advice this way. You may also locate fellow alumni who will represent you for reduced costs.
6. Paralegal Services
If you’re divorce is relatively simple and uncontested you can often use paralegals for significantly lower costs than lawyers who will help you to fill out and file forms for your divorce. Paralegals often can provide you with referrals to mediators, lawyers, and other sources you may need in the course of your divorce.
7. Unbundled Lawyer’s Services
Another option is to find a lawyer who will work with you; answering questions over the phone or in person for a nominal fee. With this approach you can do most of the paperwork on your own and then call the lawyer with specific questions or when you’re ready to have your divorce papers and decisions reviewed. These services are often called unbundled or limited legal services and are becoming more readily available across the nation with lawyers charging by hourly or per task and without asking for huge retainers. Using unbundled legal services can drastically cut down on the money spent with a lawyer.
Divorce doesn’t have to break the bank for you; if you’re financial situation is strained try one of the seven tips above for divorcing for a low cost.
Remember there are many resources out there and if you spend some time doing research you’ll undoubtedly find an option for divorce that will work for you. Stay positive and focused on your journey!