The more cooperation there is between two spouses who are filing for divorce, the less expensive such a procedure can be. It is impossible to say exactly how much a divorce in the United States will generally be, since the fee to file a petition for divorce varies not just from state to state but county by county. Here is a broad overview of the potential expenses to consider when figuring out how much does a divorce cost in your case.
Filing for divorce
All states have different laws regarding how long the person filing a petition for divorce must have been a resident of their state or county. However, the procedure is generally the same. While some states allow couples to file a joint petition for divorce, this is not possible in many steps. In the standard divorce process:
• A petition for divorce is filed with the appropriate family court in the district. A fee must be paid at this time, which can range from $100 to $400 depending on what state and county you are in.
• Your spouse must be officially served with a copy of the complaint against them. There may be a small fee that must be paid to the sheriff’s office or other process server for this process if you cannot do it yourself or are prohibited to by the laws of your state.
• If your spouse contests any aspect of the divorce complaint, they can file an official response. There will be an additional fee for this. It may be necessary for both spouses to prepare separate estimates to plan for how much does a divorce cost.
If you are filing a petition for divorce but cannot afford to pay the fee, in all states there is some kind of waiver that can be obtained as long as you can prove you are indigent and unable to make the payment.
Divorce without lawyers
The best-case scenario for an inexpensive divorce is one in which two spouses can draft a written agreement by themselves coming to agreement over such potential areas of dispute as:
• Alimony payments
• Paying off joint debts
• Child support payments
• Child custody arrangements
• Visitation rights
If two partners can come to agreement on how to handle all such issues, the court system can generally provide them with the appropriate forms and instructions to complete. In this case, a lawyer’s help is not necessary unless you are especially concerned with making sure the legal language in the settlement is correct. When estimating how much does a divorce cost, this is the most desirable and least expensive option.
Divorce with lawyers
If no agreement can be reached at any point before trial, one or both spouses may choose to retain private legal counsel to represent them in court. These attorneys generally charge by the hour and can be very expensive. This will be the largest estimate for budget for when figuring out how much does a divorce cost in your particular type of case.