A divorce can be emotionally and financially exhausting for everyone involved. While some couples are unable to agree on the terms of a divorce, others come to an agreement that settles all the issues in the divorce quickly and easily. In a straightforward divorce such as this, when the couple can agree on all the terms, a divorce does not have to be expensive. In fact, a divorce can be completed at no cost in some circumstances.
State law will determine the exact procedures required in the state where the divorce is filed, however the basic process is the same in each state. A complaint or petition is filed to begin the divorce proceeding. The respondent (other spouse) then has the option to file and answer. The parties may then reach an agreement resolving all issues in the divorce or they may elect to have a judge or jury decide the contested issues. Once the issues are settled a decree is entered, legally ending the marriage.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
A lawyer is never legally required to represent the parties in a divorce. Each individual involved in a divorce must decide whether she feels a lawyer is necessary. Common examples of when a lawyer may be needed are when custody of minor children is contested, when the marital estate includes extensive assets or debts or when one party is opposed to the divorce. If a lawyer is retained, then the cost of the divorce will depend on the fees charged by the lawyer or lawyers.
Filing fees are required in all civil case filings, including a divorce. Filing fees are determined by the legislature of the state where the divorce is filed. The filing fee alone can prohibit one from filing a divorce if he is living on a low or fixed income. As a result, most states allow the petitioner (person filing the divorce) to apply for a fee waiver. If approved, the fee waiver allows the divorce to be filed without paying the filing fee.
A straightforward divorce where the parties prepare their own paperwork, agree to all the terms of the divorce and are able to file the divorce without paying the filing fee can be completed at no cost to either party. If a fee waiver is not an option then the divorce can still be accomplished for just the cost of the filing fee which typically runs around $200.