How to save your time and money in a divorce
Saving both time and money in a divorce is quite a difficult thing to pull off. For one, time is saved when tasks are delegated to other people, so saving time costs a pretty penny. Therefore, money can only be saved if tasks are done without any help. Applying this piece of wisdom to divorce, spouses can have an affordable and not very long dissolution of marriage by striking a delicate balance between filing for divorce without an attorney and buying online divorce services. Here are the components of an inexpensive and quick divorce.
The best way to get divorced quickly and cheaply is to pursue a blame-free uncontested divorce. Legal fees make up the bulk of all divorce-related expenses. Billed hourly, legal fees are considerable in contested divorces because (1) both spouses need individual legal counsel, and (2) each issue of contention requires evidence production and court hearings. Each U.S. state has its own set of fault-based grounds for divorce, which require proof of fault. Plus, in a contested divorce, spouses typically struggle to settle one or more issues, such as child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. If a case goes to trial, the cost of divorce will be incrementally higher.
Do-It-Yourself divorce is a self-explanatory term. The filing spouse (petitioner) files the divorce paperwork with the court without a lawyer’s assistance. As long as the divorce papers are completed correctly, DIY divorce is legitimate and doable.
State court websites offer downloadable divorce forms and assistance through self-help centers. Online divorce companies provide service in the divorce process by completing the court forms for couples. All that’s left is for both spouses to sign the divorce documents.
But only a no-fault uncontested case can be a DIY divorce. Therefore, if spouses cannot settle some of the divorce-related issues, they should use mediation.
Filing fees and divorce proceedings vary from state to state, the lowest being Mississippi ($50 to $75) and the highest being California ($435 to $450). Some families can try to trim down this expense by qualifying for a fee waiver. For example, the court will waive the court fees if a low-income family can prove that their income is below the federal poverty level with food bank checks, bank statements, and other financial documents. In many states, it is enough to submit a motion and an affidavit explaining your financial hardship.
Web divorce, or divorce over the Internet, implies that divorcing spouses can get assistance in completing an application for divorce online. Many documents preparation services are available to help prepare the forms and provide information on court filing procedures. Then, spouses answer questions on the website, and the system automatically completes the forms and (e)mails them within days.
Internet divorce document assistance can be a real help as it doesn’t disrupt the clients’ life and ensures error-free completed divorce forms. This can be a great option if the client meets the residency requirements and their divorce is uncontested.
Whether divorcing couples prepare the DIY forms on their own or with the help of web-based services, spouses may find themselves disagreeing on some issues. Given the emotional nature of these issues, family attorneys are of little use. Meanwhile, mediators can handle family disputes with ease at a much more reasonable price than typical hourly legal fees. Each case is unique, but on average, it takes a skillful mediator one or two 2-hour sessions to handle most divorce-related issues.
Although legal representation remains the most expensive way of getting a divorce, many family law firms have an option of a flat-fee divorce where divorcing spouses pay a one-time fee to a lawyer to take on their uncontested divorce.
This option is possible only if spouses agree to a no-fault divorce and have already sorted out custody, visitation, property, taxes, etc. Then, the attorney takes care of completing and filing the paperwork. This is the easiest and most trouble-free way to handle a divorce, but it costs a penny.
How long a divorce takes largely depends on the court procedures. Some states have a 30-day to a 90-day waiting period. Others have a separation requirement when spouses must live separately and apart for a year before filing for divorce. These waiting periods aim to protect spouses from ending their marriage unreasonably quickly. For example, a U.S. divorce cannot be granted faster than 20 days after filing in West Virginia or 20 days after serving the respondent in Wyoming.
Massachusetts and Michigan have the longest mandatory waiting periods without considering the length of contested divorce going to trial. For example, in Michigan, couples with children must wait for 180 days before their divorce is finalized, unlike the 60-day waiting period for a child-free couple. In Massachusetts, the court procedure is complicated by a Nisi divorce judgment entered 30 days after a court hearing, but it takes 90 more days for the official divorce to be granted.
Saving time or money?
Before spouses decide what they want to save more, time or money, they need to factor in their financial situation and mental and emotional state. Having a DIY divorce requires time and patience from the petitioner to become familiar with the intricacies of Family Law and local court procedures. Those who have high-pressure job duties may feel more inclined to pay for qualified legal counsel rather than deal with self-representation.
On the other hand, some spouses can put aside their negative emotions and have an amicable divorce for the sake of their children and family finances. After all, splitting marital assets does not sever their ties entirely if minor children are involved. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to compromise and have a DIY divorce with the assistance of a web-based documents preparation company. Therefore, a reasonable hybrid of suitable and available options is advisable at all times.