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The Cheapest Way to Get Divorced
By Divorce.com staff
Updated Jan 03, 2023
Deciding to get a divorce is a difficult decision. However, in the divorce process, it is one of many that the couple will make. Next, the couple has to decide how to get divorced.
Couples who have decided to end their marriages often want to divorce in the quickest and most affordable way possible. However, the cheapest way to get divorced may not be the easiest. Instead, it may be the most challenging way.
Let's get down to the details.
What is the Cheapest Way to Get a Divorce?
The cheapest way to get a divorce is to do it yourself called a DIY divorce. That means finding and filling out the forms, filing them, paying the (correct) fees, and hoping it works. The second least expensive way is to get a divorce online.
The most expensive item on the list starts with your attorney. Why? Because most divorce attorneys charge hourly, meaning if you and your spouse want to continue to fight it out in court, “cha-ching” for the attorney.
For example, each spouse will likely pay an average of $11,300 in legal fees when a divorce attorney handles it. However, that could vary based on where you live. For example, New York attorneys estimate that divorce costs anywhere from $13,000 to $16,000.
As we said, attorney charges by the hour, sometimes as much as $1,500 and as low as $75. The national average is around $250 per hour for a divorce attorney.
Again, the state where you live will dictate the attorney rate. For example, California divorce attorneys earn $300 to $365 per hour.
Sometimes lawyers that do a large volume of divorces might charge you a flat fee, which means you pay one amount for the end-to-end process. However, if your divorce gets complicated, e.g., child custody, property division, or spousal support issues, you can expect to pay extra.
Mediation is more affordable than attorneys working out the details of a divorce agreement in court.
The mediator is a neutral third party that helps you and your ex work out the details of any parts of ending your marriage that you do not agree with 100 percent. Mediators don’t make decisions but instead provide solutions to these sticking points.
Asking a neutral third party to help you meet in the middle for some parts of your divorce agreement can help you end your marriage with less friction. But it does cost money, charged by the hour. Like lawyers, a divorce mediator’s hourly rate varies.
The national average comes to around $100 to $300 per hour, with the average session taking two hours each. However, private mediators in California have a range of $200 to $1,000 an hour.
When you compare mediator rates across the country, you can see that different areas have different rates.
For example, a mediation in Indiana costs an average of $1,500 for three to five two-hour sessions. In Oregon, if you have a simple divorce, you can expect to pay around $1,700 for two sessions and up to $3,300 to $4,900 for four or six sessions for more complicated divorces.
The cheapest way to get divorced is the DIY. Like it sounds, a DIY divorce means that you prepare and file all the legal documents and marital agreement yourself, sans attorney.
Since you are doing all the work, you don’t have legal fees. It means you pay only the court filing fees, which vary by state. The most expensive state to file for divorce is California, at $435. The least expensive state is Mississippi, at $63.
When you consider the average divorce cost, that’s quite a savings. However, it also means that you have to find all the forms, work out all the details, fill out the forms correctly and file them. Plus, you and your spouse have to agree on everything, which, let’s face it, could be a deal breaker.
There are other drawbacks to DIY divorce, too. First, no one is there to ask questions unless you count Google. Moreover, it’s hard to overlook that you will be hammering out the details of dividing property and contentious issues like child custody and spousal support (if applicable) by yourselves.
So, is a DIY divorce the cheapest way to get a divorce? Yes, but it is also the most complicated for you. It costs a lot of stress, anxiety, and headaches, too.
Then, what should you do if you don’t love the attorney and mediation route and DIY doesn’t sound good?
The good news is there is another option: online divorce. While it’s not the cheapest, it’s the quickest way to get a divorce.
Online Divorce with Divorce.com
An online divorce means much of the divorce process happens digitally. However, the entire divorce process does not occur online.
The process is similar for the various sites. For example, online divorce starts with creating an account, answering preliminary questions, and then getting through the more in-depth questionnaire. Once you complete the questionnaire, the provider sends you the forms to download and file with the court.
Like a DIY divorce, you have some requirements for an online divorce. First, you must have an uncontested divorce, meaning you aren’t accusing your spouse of cheating, abandonment, or a “no-fault” divorce.
Plus, you should agree on the terms of the agreement for the most part. Finally, an online divorce may not be the best if there are children or property division issues.
If you meet these criteria, there are benefits to online divorce:
- - it costs much less than a traditional divorce.
- - it’s unlikely something will be missing from the agreement since the system guides you to get all the necessary forms.
- - it’s fast; online systems like Divorce.com get you the required paperwork in as little as two days.
Unlike other online sites, Divorce.com guarantees the court will accept the forms in all 50 states (and Washington D.C., of course). In addition, Divorce.com provides resources for mediation or attorneys should they be necessary.
So, are online divorce solutions as cheap as doing it yourself?
They are not, but they are close.
However, for the money, online divorces are an excellent bargain compared to a traditional divorce or even a mediated one. Plus, they generate far fewer headaches than a DIY option.
So, while not the cheapest way to get a divorce, some couples might find online divorce the fastest and easiest solution.
What is the quickest way to get a divorce?
Filing a no-fault, uncontested divorce with the help of a service like Divorce.com is the quickest way to get a divorce. In addition, when divorce is fast, you save on legal fees.
What are the filing fees?
Not only do you have to pay your attorney for their time spent on your case, but both spouses have to pay court-required filing fees and costs to get divorced. However, in the case of an uncontested divorce, there may only be one filing fee. These state filing fees are required for all divorces, whether online, DIY, or traditional.
Filing fees vary by state. For example, in California, each spouse pays $435 to open their case.
Can the filing fees be waived?
The state can waive court costs by granting a fee waiver. Fees are waived for low-income individuals. There are specific requirements for fee waivers in different states, which you can find online.
Usually, the court issues them to people on public benefits with lower household incomes or if the court finds that you cannot afford to pay for basic needs in addition to the court fees. Your state will have forms online (and guides to help you fill them out) that you can file with the court clerk handling your case.