If irreconcilable differences have you thinking about divorce but you’re worried about how much it’s going to cost, never fear, there are options available to you. Most states allow civilians to handle their own divorce and it can save you thousands of dollars.
Before getting divorced a couple might try to work things out through marital or family counseling. If the marriage cannot be saved, then you need to take a look at your personal situation and see which divorce preceding is best for you. Things to consider are your finances, what your joint assets are and how complex they are, if there are young children involved or if one party is ‘at fault” for the divorce.
Litigation is one of the most common, and most expensive, divorce proceeding. In litigation both sides get a divorce attorney and they go battle it out in court. If you want to keep the bickering lawyers but don’t want to see the inside of a court room you could agree to a collaborative divorce instead where both sides agree to come to terms without the court’s involvement. For an even more laid back approach, try mediation. In mediation a third party helps the separating couple through their divorce in a way that is fair for all parties without any litigation.
Most states allow you to file your own divorce paperwork at the county clerk’s office. Check online for the laws and proceedings for your individual state. You will most likely have to:
- File a petition for divorce
- Notify spouse of intent
- Spouse will have to acknowledge
- Schedule date to appear in court (per state laws, check with your state)
- File your official divorce decree (which will outline any agreement you make with each other)
The rules and proceedings will differ slightly from state to state. Before you begin make sure you have a complete understanding of the rules.
If you find that you need a little help along the way, there are legal hotlines, paralegal services, and pay-per-hour legal fee services you can turn to for advice. You might feel like you can DIY but want someone to look over your final products before making them official, and that’s perfectly alright!
Help with the legal paperwork can be found online with a DIY divorce kit. There is even software available to help guide you through a template process. Even so, you still might want to have a professional look over the documents when you are done.