Getting a divorce can be an expensive process. Not only will you typically be hiring a lawyer, but you will also need to pay court fines, divide your assets, and potentially arrange for spousal maintenance if you were the breadwinner of the household. That can get expensive fast.
Because of this, some people are more interested in determining how to get a free divorce without legal advice. While a free divorce is a possibility, it can be difficult to obtain. It can also be a challenging time to get a fair divorce without an attorney. Below are a few details you may need to keep in mind as you go through the divorce process, especially if you are seeking out free divorce options.
When Am I Eligible for a Free Divorce?
Divorce can be expensive, and when you are living paycheck to paycheck and have credit card debt, you may not have the accessible funds to cover the filing fee and file divorce paperwork, hire a divorce attorney, and cover your day-to-day expenses on top of these extra expenses.
Fortunately, there are cases where you may be eligible for legal aid from a non-profit or through certain fee waivers through state aid. However, it can be difficult to qualify for these things so consider your options as you prepare for court.
Proving Your Income Level
If you are seeking state legal aid to get a free divorce, you may qualify for help offered to low-income households. These criteria vary from state to state, but part of the process is typically proving your income and being assessed for whether you qualify by the state.
This step may also require you to explain why you cannot afford the fees. For example, you may have a minimum-wage job that leaves you with no extra income after your bills are paid every month. If your state has certain separation requirements, or if you are unable to return to your home after separation, you may also have the extra expense of housing that you would not otherwise have.
Options for Waiving Court Fees
In some cases, you may be able to petition the court to waive your fees for a divorce. This is typically done through certain court fee waiver requests, which must be submitted when you file your divorce papers.
These requests are assessed similarly to other types of aid. You may need to prove that you have a total income for your household that is below a specific amount, that you are receiving public benefits, or that you cannot meet your basic needs while paying the court fees.
Keep in mind that your spouse’s income can impact this. Even if you are separated, they may or may not qualify as well for this waiver. That can impact your case, so you may need to speak with a divorce lawyer about your options.
Divorce Can Be Complex
You may have already found ways to get your court fees waived or to seek out aid that helps you with the financial aspects of filing for divorce. Unfortunately, filing by yourself, without an attorney’s guidance, can be a lot of difficulty.
While you may have gotten your fees and other costs waived, not seeking out a lawyer can still put you at a disadvantage. Divorce is a complex topic, so consider your options before you decide not to hire an attorney.
What If Your Divorce Is Uncontested?
An uncontested divorce is typically less expensive, with lower fees and minimal attorney involvement when your marriage is coming to an end.
In most cases, an uncontested divorce, in which both parties agree on all terms and there are no major conflicts, tends to be less expensive than a contested divorce.
What If Your Divorce Is Contested?
In cases of uncontested divorce, you and your spouse can simply make decisions through a mediator, getting a divorce does not have to be so expensive. However, that is not the reality for many couples. This is especially a problem if your spouse is suffering from addiction. Tensions may be especially high, which makes mediation both difficult and more complex.
In some cases, your spouse may not agree with the terms of the divorce, which can lead to them contesting part or all aspects of your divorce proceedings. Without an attorney on your side, it can be difficult to have your rights and needs represented. Worst, your spouse may still seek out a lawyer, leaving you on the defensive to protect your needs.
Fair Division of Assets
Fair division of your assets does not always mean splitting your expenses 50/50. You may have an inheritance that they do not have access to, for example. You may also have debts that need to be split fairly between the two of you, especially if some of that debt was not made as a couple.
Fairly dividing your assets according to state law can be difficult and complex. Worse, a mistake can leave you without the needed assets that you deserve, and it can even leave you with more debt than you should owe.
Child Support, Visitation, and Custody
If minor children are involved in your divorce, you may already be overwhelmed by the number of decisions that need to be made. One of the first is custody. If your spouse does not agree with your child custody arrangement, they may fight for custody rights in the courtroom. If they are also suffering from addiction, getting custody can be a necessity.
If you are not planning to fight for custody, you may need to work out a fair visitation plan. Outside of certain circumstances, you as a parent do have visitation rights, but these rights need to be set down in a specific plan. If they are not, it can be difficult to have your rights respected.
If you are a non-custodial parent, you may even need to worry about paying child support. This can turn into a huge expense, especially if you are not familiar with the state laws that govern child support. Without a lawyer to guide you through this process and accurately calculate what your child support payments should be, you may find yourself paying more for child support than you can afford.
Do I Need a Divorce Attorney?
All of these steps for a divorce can be overwhelming, and this already does not include issues like alimony, domestic violence, and more. Any of these factors can make the process even more overwhelming. Fortunately, you do not have to handle this alone.
While an Atlanta divorce attorney may not always be a free divorce option, it can be a vital one, and one that saves you money in the long term. Below are a few key ways a divorce attorney can help you face your divorce case and get the answers you need.
Experience on Your Side
First, keep in mind that your attorney is bringing decades of experience to the table. Our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with divorce law and cases like yours, which means they have the tools and resources built up over time to help you get results.
Handling a divorce case without a lawyer leaves you to rely on your own experience, which may be next to nothing. Rather than relying on free advice and what you have learned during your research, let an attorney bring their experience to the case and get you the results you need.
Specializing in Addiction-Related Divorce
When you are dealing with a spouse who is suffering from addiction, you have certain complications that other divorce cases do not have. That can have much more than an emotional impact on your case—It can also impact the outcome, especially if you do not have an attorney who is ready to deal with these issues.
Our team has personal experience dealing with addiction-related divorce cases, and we are ready to handle the complications that can arise in these cases. Whether you are concerned about helping your spouse with their addiction recovery, or whether you are simply trying to protect yourself and your family, your attorney is here to help.
Focus on Your Life
Even if you are able to handle your divorce case with attention to detail and strong evidence, you may feel like your life is falling apart behind you. It can be difficult to juggle the mental and financial hardship of a divorce with your everyday life.
This is one of the more important but understated parts of hiring a divorce attorney. Even if those services are not free, they can be a lifesaver when you are overwhelmed and struggling to recover from your case. With your licensed attorney handling the legal details of your divorce case, you can focus on your children, your career, and your life following a divorce.
Get the Legal Assistance You Need for Your Divorce Case
When you are facing a divorce, saving money may be one of your big priorities. A divorce can be expensive, not just because you may be going from two incomes to a one-income household, but also because the fines, child-related expenses, and attorney fees can add up fast.
However, avoiding legal expenses may not be best for the outcome of your divorce. For legal advice that gets results while treating you with dignity and respect, you can always reach out to the attorneys at Chambers Family Law. We are prepared to guide you through this difficult time. To learn more about our services, call or fill out our online contact form.