Divorce can be expensive as it often involves expensive legal battles. But if you don’t have a lot of money, there are both low-cost and free options. For instance, city and state bar associations can provide legal assistance even if you don’t have much money. Here’s what you need to know about getting a divorce that costs you nothing.
A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your finances after divorce.
7 Ways to File for Divorce for Little to No Cost
There are many ways to file for divorce that are inexpensive or even free in some cases. Here are seven ways to keep your costs under control:
Make it amicable. Often known as an uncontested divorce, avoiding significant disagreements with your partner can help keep costs down. If you don’t need an attorney to help work through things like your finances, your costs should be much lower. It also means you’ll save time you would have otherwise spent in court, not to mention lost wages during the litigation process.
Pro bono lawyers. Pro bono lawyers take on many kinds of cases and divorces are one of them. In fact, pro bono organizations help low-income people find volunteer lawyers who will give free legal advice and help you make a plan. Typically, they will provide a consultation for free rather than taking on an entire case for no charge.
However, if your divorce is uncontested, this can be an excellent way to ensure that all your paperwork is in order. In some cases, a pro bono lawyer might be able to take on an entire case, but that isn’t something you should expect.
City and state bar associations. If you can’t avoid litigation, you must look for free and low-cost options. In this case, your city or state bar associations might be able to help. For instance, your city or state’s bar association might have information on resources in your area. The availability of that information will depend partly on where you live; some areas have more resources than others.
Non-profit organizations. In addition to government organizations, private groups such as non-profits can also help with free-and low-cost legal assistance. Non-profits in your area may be able to direct you to volunteer attorneys who are willing to help at no cost. Groups such as the Legal Services Corporation can help you find non-profits in your area.
Mediators. Mediation is a process in which parties meet to resolve a dispute. Hence, this may be necessary if your divorce is not entirely uncontested. Importantly, mediation is separate from going to court. It is also less costly, likely in terms of time and money. Thus, while it may not be free, it is a much cheaper alternative if you can settle any disagreements this way.
You can also hire a mediator for this process rather than relying on a divorce attorney. A mediator may not be free, but it will likely be much cheaper than hiring an attorney.
Law school legal clinics. If you live near a law school, you can sometimes ask for free legal help from students at the school. How much they can do for you varies by school. You will also work with a student, not a seasoned professional. Still, law schools sometimes offer free legal advice to help students gain experience. You might find that a simple Google search for “law school legal clinics” returns at least one law school in your area with this kind of clinic.
Find other free resources. There is no reason to think you can’t find good information on divorce without paying. In fact, there are many resources available for those in this situation. In addition to countless articles from law firms and law schools, you can find resources to help walk you through the process.
For instance, you might find free legal forms and worksheets that can help you get organized. It’s useful to be prepared whether you are about to meet for a consultation or mediation. While divorce can be messy, it doesn’t have to be if you are armed with the right information.
Divorce can be a costly process, both in terms of time and money. However, there are many ways to keep costs down or get a divorce for free. If your divorce is not contested, it may be easier to avoid much of the cost. However, if there are disagreements, you may still have options, such as local bar associations, pro bono lawyers, and non-profit organizations. In general, you may be more likely to get a free divorce if you have little to no income.
Tips for Managing Your Finances During Divorce
- Like everything in life, money can be hard after a separation or a divorce. However, a financial advisor can help you create financial plan for life after divorce. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Establishing a prenuptial agreement can help you to head off tricky financial arguments if the marriage doesn’t work out. But when you don’t have a prenup, it’s helpful to know how to protect assets from divorce should you and your spouse break up.
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