Here's the truth you probably already know but needs repeating…
Divorce is one of the toughest life events you will go through.
It’s already such an emotional process why would you want to drag it out longer than it has to go?
Nobody wants to keep that much negative energy in their life because it is unhealthy and can cause serious problems for your mind and body.
Divorce is also expensive.
You don’t want to deplete your future financial security by paying high attorney fees, if you can avoid them.
Well, guess what? Divorce doesn't have to be a long drawn-out process that costs you a lot of money.
If you just want out of your marriage so you can end it as soon as possible without breaking the bank, there are options for you to pursue.
Generally speaking, there are 2 types of divorces.
- Contested Divorce – (typically long and expensive) this type of divorce is where you and your spouse can not agree on all the terms of your divorce (division of assets/debts, child custody & support, alimony, etc) and need the court systems to intervene.
- Uncontested Divorce – (quick and cheap) this type of divorce is where you and your spouse agree on ALL the terms of your divorce and just need the court system to finalize your divorce.
When people refer to cheap and quick divorces it is usually an uncontested divorce that falls into this category but in some cases a contested divorce can be relatively cheap and relatively quick.
But contested divorces are almost never as quick and cheap as an uncontested divorce.
3StepDivorce.com is highly regarded as the best online divorce option you can choose.
Overall, they are a legitimate online divorce business and you will find their website to be very easy to use, affordable and your divorce documents can be completed quickly.
Cheap Divorce Options
Thankfully, there are options that can make your divorce more affordable, especially if you do the proper research and can do some of the legwork.
Here are 5 options for a cheap and quick divorce:
- Do-It-Yourself Divorce
- Online Divorce Services
- Divorce Mediation
- Attorney Limited Representation
- Legal Aid or Pro Bono
Below is a table to show you how each of these options rate in terms of being “fast”, “cheap” and “easy”.
Here is what each “emoji” represents.
👎 = No
🤷 = Maybe
|Online Divorce Services||👍||👍||👍|
|Attorney Limited Representation||🤷||🤷||👍|
|Legal Aid or Pro Bono||🤷||👍||🤷|
We will dive into each of these options below.
1. Do-It-Yourself Divorce
In an uncontested divorce situation, you can often prepare and file all of the legal paperwork on your own.
You may need a notary, but you won’t need the help of an attorney.
This route can help you save a considerable chunk of change, as your only expenses will be any related court fees.
Pros and Cons
Make sure you weigh the pros and cons before committing to a DIY divorce.
The prime benefit of a DIY divorce option is the savings it could net you.
If money is a consideration, keeping the divorce as cost-effective as possible is beneficial for both you and your spouse.
Hiring an attorney can be extremely expensive; contracting attorneys for divorce cases can start in the thousands to tens of thousands.
By doing the paperwork yourself, you will avoid or at least reduce the upfront cost of legal fees.
Another benefit is the savings in time.
If everything is agreed upon by both you and your spouse, there’s no need to draw things out and worsen the emotional burden or even potentially sour the relationship between you.
A DIY divorce allows the paperwork to be done on your own timelines and lets the court handle the rest.
With a DIY divorce, however, there are a few drawbacks to consider.
If you’ve never gone through a divorce before, you won’t know if you’re missing anything or what part of your paperwork could create a legal holdup further down the line.
A divorce attorney can point out things that could become potential issues.
If you want an attorney to review your filings rather than having to contract with them outright, you may be able to just pay their hourly rate for them to review your documents.
Another potential issue is fairness.
If you and your spouse have reached an agreement, things may seem fair, but you could be entitled to more benefits than you realize.
Differences in income or the presence of children are just a couple of factors that can lead to inequity for one spouse.
But the emotions of a divorce can blind you to those inequities.
Enlisting the help of an attorney can help both parties get a fair outcome.
2. Online Divorce Services
If DIY-ing your divorce sounds too daunting, you can still save money by using an online divorce service.
Many online divorce services cost under $400, and you can take care of your paperwork from your computer or even your smartphone.
Online divorce services provide any state-specific forms you need and give you instructions on filling them out correctly.
For added fees, some online divorce services can even have a professional review your documents or file them with the court.
Pros and Cons
Online services are a valid option for a cheap divorce, but make sure you compare the potential benefits and drawbacks.
Although it does have some costs associated with it, using an online divorce service can still be very cost-effective.
You can ensure that you have all the correct forms to file, all while avoiding paying any expensive attorney fees.
Many services are a-la-carte, as well, so you can add on certain services based on your specific needs and finances.
Going back to having the correct forms, this is another perk.
You don’t have to spend valuable time searching for your state’s forms and worrying about whether you have the correct ones.
If you use an online service, all the proper documents are provided to you, so you can be confident you’re not wasting your time or money filing.
The good online divorce websites will provide instructions to help you file your forms in your local courts system and offer a money back guarantee if they are not accepted.
But while you won’t have to worry about vetting your forms, you may have to worry about vetting the website you choose to utilize.
There are always scams being run online, so it’s vital to ensure that the online divorce service you choose to use is legit.
There are many reputable online divorce services out there.
The best ones have a guarantee that the court will accept your paperwork or they will help you resolve or process a full refund.
Some of the Best Online Divorce Options Include:
$84 To Get Started
Guaranteed Court Approval or Money Back
Guaranteed Court Approval or Money Back
Guaranteed Court Approval or Money Back
Phone & Email
Phone & Email
Phone & Email
Free Negotiation & Divorce Tracker
Top Notch Customer Support
Premium White Glove Service Available
3. Divorce Mediation
If you and your spouse are struggling to reach an agreement that would allow your divorce to be uncontested, you may be able to use mediation rather than immediately jumping to an attorney.
Divorce mediation involves having a third-party mediator help you and your spouse reach an equitable decision.
After reaching a decision in mediation, your mediator or mediation service can help you create a formal contract and advance it to a judge.
Pros and Cons
Let’s look more closely at what mediation involves.
Although mediation can cost money, one of its benefits is that it does cost significantly less than using an attorney and courtroom hearings that come with contested divorces.
Many courts even require couples to attempt mediation before they hear a divorce case.
Using a private mediator can be expensive, but court-appointed mediators are relatively cheap or even free.
You can choose to pay an attorney to be present for mediation, but it isn’t necessary, making the process even more cost-effective.
Going to multiple hearings also takes up a lot of time, so a massive plus of mediation is that it can make things go much faster.
Mediation negotiations are less formal and take up less time than those in court, and it’s much easier to arrange a separate meeting than to try and schedule time in court.
Generally, if mediation goes smoothly, you’ll only need to attend one court hearing so that the divorce proceedings can be finalized.
Minimizing any time spent in court will save both time and money.
However, divorce mediation can have its drawbacks, and you’ll want to keep them in mind should you choose to go that route.
One issue is that mediation does not provide legal advice.
Mediators are simply meant to act as neutral third parties; this is a crucial distinction to keep in mind.
Any decisions reached through a mediator are only meant to be fair for both parties.
If you choose not to have professional legal guidance, you may unwittingly make decisions in mediation that have ramifications further down the road.
Another problem that you may not be able to avoid is an obvious one: mediation may not work for every couple.
Hopefully, the only reason you and your spouse can’t agree is because of something small.
But this isn’t always the case, and situations are not always ideal.
If your spouse is threatening, manipulative or even exhibits narcissistic warning signs, it may be best to consider an alternative route.
4. Attorney Limited Representation
It can be helpful to have an attorney represent you in a divorce case, but perhaps you don’t need them for every part of the ordeal.
Some lawyers offer “unbundled services” or limited representation to their clients.
This allows you to save a bit of money by working with your attorney only as you need to.
With limited representation, you may be able to avoid paying costly unending hourly rates to an attorney and instead only pay a flat fee.
This could be a good option if you file your own paperwork and want a professional to review it or if you want advice following mediation.
Pros and Cons
Full representation from a lawyer can be costly, but sometimes, there’s no replacement for expertise, so this option can be a cost-effective compromise.
As with most alternative legal options, the most significant benefit to limited representation is the benefit to your wallet.
While limited representation is not the cheapest route you could go, it is still much less expensive than contracting full representation with an attorney.
Limited representation can be an excellent option for some situations and can be used in a wide variety of circumstances.
You can use an attorney’s services for something as simple as reviewing an uncontested divorce or as complex as advising you on what you are entitled to when it comes to time with your children.
It’s a beneficial choice for someone who needs some legal advice but can handle a good deal of the rest of the case for themselves.
A downside to limited representation, however, is that it doesn’t work in all situations.
Some divorces present complicated issues, and one spouse may not be able to navigate it on their own or may not be able to emotionally separate themselves from the situation.
In cases like this, having full representation from an attorney may be the best decision, even if it costs more.
With limited representation, you also need to have realistic expectations as a client.
This can be an issue if you don’t; if you’re not fully clear on what limited representation entails, you may find yourself in a problem that your attorney can’t help you out of without full representation.
Carefully consider what you want your attorney to assist with and the scope of what they’re willing to do in a limited representation situation and go from there.
5. Legal Aid or Pro Bono
If finances are tight, you may qualify for legal aid from your state.
A legal aid service can help you by giving you necessary court forms, instructions, and other information.
You may even qualify for having a lawyer from a legal aid organization assist you in your divorce proceedings, especially in cases of abuse.
A legal aid service can also help you find an attorney who will take on your case “pro bono”—essentially, for free.
Your state bar association may also be able to point you toward lawyers who would offer this service.
Pros and Cons
Getting free legal assistance is an incredible benefit, especially during a time as tumultuous as a divorce.
Not having to worry about the burden of hefty legal fees can relieve a lot of stress and concern and save you a lot of money.
Both legal aid and pro bono offerings do not apply to everyone.
Only certain individuals and circumstances merit legal aid.
Seeking out a lawyer to do pro bono work may prove difficult because not all attorneys are willing to take on cases for free.
Another disadvantage of having a pro bono lawyer is that you’re not necessarily choosing your representation.
If you’re forced to go with the first attorney who offers free services, or you use one picked by legal aid, you won’t know their experience level or what they specialize in.
They may lack the competence to handle your specific issues or not even have enough time to devote to your case.
Having a lawyer on-hand free of charge is helpful, but it can also come with some unseen costs.
Why You Should Work Together If You Want To Divorce Quickly and Cheaply (If Possible)
It’s beneficial if you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to getting a cheap and quick divorce.
This certainly isn’t what everyone wants to hear, and it isn’t always possible, either.
But if there’s a chance that you and your spouse can come to a peaceful agreement, reaching that should be a priority.
Legally speaking, the ideal circumstance for a divorce would be an uncontested one.
In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on all the divorce-related decisions, such as how to split up assets and how to address parenting.
In contrast, a contested divorce is one in which the spouses cannot agree on these or other decisions.
In this case, going to court may be the only way to resolve the matter, although there are other options.
In the US, many states have a streamlined approach for handling uncontested divorces, usually without even requiring either spouse to see a courtroom.
If you and your spouse can come to an agreement and have an uncontested divorce, you could both save yourselves a whole lot of time, money, and heartache.
This is why it’s essential to work together as much as you can, even though you’re splitting up.
Now you know what options you have available to you for getting a fast and cheap divorce.
But you might have lingering questions about the process.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions.
- Social Security information
- proof of income
- any welfare or assistance you receive
- tax returns
- proof of outstanding debts
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
It’s easy to get a cheap and quick divorce if your marriage ended on amicable terms.
By working together and agreeing on the terms of your divorce, you’ll avoid a lot of extra costs, extra time and extra STRESS!
An uncontested divorce is quick because you don’t have to fight it out in court.
It’s cheap because you don’t have to pay for an attorney (unless you need one to help you).
Depending on your state’s specific requirements, the court could finalize your divorce in as little as a month, and you could only have to pay the filing fees.
Lauren Cook-McKay is the Vice President of Marketing at DivorceAnswers.com. She holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Diego and applies her training in private practice to helping couples struggling in their marriage. She believes there is hope in all marriages and strives to provide therapy to couples that will lead them back towards a loving marriage, or an amicable divorce that brings peace and closure.