When couples decide to divorce, not everyone needs to spend a lot of money on legal fees. When money is tight or a great disparity exists between the parties' income, there are still ways to legally part ways without causing a financial struggle. Read on to find out more about the cost of divorce and how to handle the fees.
Simple Marriage Simple Costs
Some couples can get away with paying little to no money to part ways. A simplified divorce can be accomplished in most states by filling out some forms and paying the filing fee at the courthouse. To qualify for this type of divorce, the couple should have no minor-aged children and no disputed property or debts. Filing fees vary by the county and state but are usually under $500. As a bonus, these types of divorces often take a lot less time to become final. One word of caution: the county clerk's staff will refuse to assist you in filling out the forms. It might be a good idea to have an attorney at least review the forms before you file them.
Agreeing on Major Issues
The next inexpensive way to save money when divorcing depends on how well you still get along with your soon-to-be ex. If you can agree on most or all of the major divorce issues, the path to a final decree should be shorter, less stressful, and a lot less costly. This is known as an uncontested divorce and is best for those who understand and agree on the following issues:
- Child Custody, visitation, and child support.
- Who receives what marital property.
- Who pays what marital debts.
When Income Disparity Exists
If your income is quite a bit less than your spouse's, you might be able to get some assistance with paying your attorney and court costs. If the higher-earning spouse wants to pay for the divorce, there is no legal bar to keep them from them doing so. A word of caution, however: never use the same divorce lawyer as your spouse unless you have no property, debt, or minor children, and the divorce is entirely uncontested.
Making Your Spouse Pay
The law endeavors to be fair to both sides in any legal action, and divorce is no different. Most judges would view a spouse that is too destitute to pay for their own divorce attorney as being at the mercy of the spouse and their attorney. If a party cannot afford to pay an attorney, the higher income spouse may be ordered to pay some or all of the cost of the divorce. In most cases, this order must be accomplished at the very beginning of the process and included in the initial petition or answer to the petition.
Speak to a divorce attorney in your area to learn more.