How do I begin the process of filing for divorce at a reasonable cost? 20 Answers as of December 28, 2010

I need to file a divorce but do not have a lot of money to put out on it at this time. How do I begin the process in the first place and what is the easiest way to go about this that is not too costly also?

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Harris Law Firm
Harris Law Firm | Jennifer C. Robins
In the State of Oregon, most county courthouses have very helpful and supportive family law divisions that can get you started on the process. Try the county courthouse in the county in which you reside. If you need more assistance, the Oregon State Bar may be able to help you obtain a low-cost or modest means attorney.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 12/28/2010
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
That may depend on what you mean by "reasonable" and also upon what actually needs to be done. In Colorado you can attempt to handle the entire process yourself at virtually no cost other than the court filing fees (about $200 or less depending on the situation). However, doing it yourself might only postpone the expense if you don't get everything handled correctly; but only an attorney can help you conduct the necessary analysis needed to estimate the total cost. Paying an attorney for the time needed to examine your precise facts and making recommendations would be the least expensive way to start. That could result in a determination that you could handle everything yourself without incurring additional attorney fees. Or, it could result in a more realistic estimate of what it will cost for what you genuinely need an attorney to do. Many attorneys offer a free initial consultation that can help you make a better decision on how you should proceed.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 12/27/2010
Keri Burnstein, P.C.
Keri Burnstein, P.C. | Keri Burnstein
It is in your best interest to hire an attorney to help you with the divorce proceedings but if that is not an option then you need to go to the Clerk of the Court at the Circuit Courthouse in the County where you reside and ask then for the paperwork that you need to file a divorce. They will not give you any legal advice but they can point you in the right direction. Your other option is to check the Circuit court website for this information.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 12/23/2010
DiManna Law Office, LLC.
DiManna Law Office, LLC. | Dawn DiManna
The best way is to mediate through the court. You can file by completing the paperwork and paying the filing fee.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 12/21/2010
Law Office of Matt Potempa, PLLC
Law Office of Matt Potempa, PLLC | Matt Potempa
he first step in initiating a divorce is filing a complaint. State law dictates the form and information contained in your complaint, as well as how it must be served on your spouse. Drafting and filing necessary legal documents is not impossible to do on your own, but you must familiarize yourself with what is required by law
Answer Applies to: Tennessee
Replied: 12/20/2010
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
    File for a fee waiver.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/20/2010
    Froerer and Miles, P.C.
    Froerer and Miles, P.C. | Robert L Froerer
    Please contact our office for a free telephone discussion. We will try to answer all your questions at that time.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 12/20/2010
    441 Legal Group, Inc.
    441 Legal Group, Inc. | Gareth H. Bullock
    Go to the self help counter at the courthouse they will assist you by selling you the forms you need.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/19/2010
    Theiler & Mourtos Attorneys at Law
    Theiler & Mourtos Attorneys at Law | Devan J. Theiler, Esq.
    If you are concerned about the cost of representation in your divorce, you could represent yourself. This is known as appearing "pro se." While I strongly recommend that you at least meet with a few attorneys (many offer free or low cost consultations) to help you understand the process, and recommend that you at least consider retaining an attorney so that your rights are fully protected, you are not required to do so. There will still be costs involved, however. It costs $250.00 to file a Complaint for Divorce. Additional filings (such as Motions that may be necessary, etc.) will also cost money (Motions are $30, etc.). Although information is available online, if you decide to represent yourself pro se, I recommend going down to your local county courthouse to begin the process. When you arrive at your local superior court building, ask the officers at security where to find Family Case Management (note: in a few counties, family management/court is in a different building than the primary courthouse, but not usually). Then proceed to Family Case Management/Intake and ask them for the forms, etc. that you need to file a Complaint pro se. While they cannot give you legal advice, they can make sure you have the correct forms and understand how to fill them out.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/19/2010
    Naziri Hanassab LLP
    Naziri Hanassab LLP | Vahid Naziri
    You can file for a waiver of fees if you do not have much money. The filing fee is $395.00.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/18/2010
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    You can file a Petition for divorce without using an Attorney. There are still fees involved. The initial filing fee is about $340 and the fee to file an Order to Show Cause (to obtain a court date) is about $40. Costs vary depending upon in which County you are filing. Apply for a Fee Waiver (speak to the Clerk for the forms or download them for free on-line). If it is granted, you will not have to pay the fees. Your local court may offer a Court Facilitator who will assist you with the forms (but who will not appear with you in Court).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/18/2010
    Saddleback Law Center
    Saddleback Law Center | Paris Kalor
    Most courthouses have a self-help center that could help you do it yourself.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/18/2010
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    There is no simple solutions. How you proceed with a divorce often depends on the dynamic between the parties and the issues that re likely to be in dispute. If you have an agreement, you may either acquire forms from the court administrator's office and fill them out or have an attorney draft the documents necessary to conclude your divorce. If you do not have any agreement, you may wish to consider hiring a mediator and seeking to resolve your issues by agreement. If you are ultimately unable to reach an agreement, the divorce process can be long and drawn out and I would caution against proceeding without counsel. If, ultimately, that is how you elect to proceed, forms are available from the court administrator in your county or from the Minnesota Courts Website online.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/18/2010
    Kaczmarek Law Firm, LLC
    Kaczmarek Law Firm, LLC | Bridgette D. Kaczmarek
    You can go to the courthouse and request assistance. The clerks office in the courthouse has a resource center. You can meet with them and they will help you complete the documents and get those documents filed. If you speak to them about indigency, and if you qualify, you may have the filing fees waived. They will also set you for a court facilitator meeting to see if you and your ex can work together to reach a resolution. If you cannot agree, they will work with you to set for a hearing.

    Many people go this route in our tough times. If you do go this route, and your ex does not hire a lawyer, you could get through this entire process without putting out too much money. But at least I gave you a good place to start.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/18/2010
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    There are Do-It Yourself Divorce Kits available through the Judicial Branch website. You can review those and then determine whether you think you will need some level of assistance. Any divorce's ease or difficulty will depend on how much or how little there is in controversy. If this is a short marriage with no children, if you agree on how to divide everything and whether and to what extent there will be spousal support then you should be OK. But the longer the marriage, and if there are children and you have accumulated assets and liabilities that must be divided, the issues will be much more complex.

    If you have more specific questions please let me know. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 12/18/2010
    The Connelly Firm P.C.
    The Connelly Firm P.C. | Thomas Connelly
    My office handles certain divorce matters at a flat rate - i.e. divorce by agreement for $3,000 (meaning the parties do not fight it out in court). I am also willing to accept payment plans in certain cases where there is need. There are cheaper options, but I wouldn't recommend them. You can also try to proceed on your own as a pro se litigant, but I don't recommend that either. Divorce is a major life event with significant economic consequences, not to be treated lightly and/or in ignorance of the law. Please contact me if you wish to retain me, and good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 12/18/2010
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    Most courts have self-help clinics to assist self-represented parties prepare and file documents in divorce cases. Also, if you qualify financially, the Court might grant an application by you to waive filing fees. Those are your least expensive options. Depending on the issues in your divorce case,using the self-help clinic may or may not be your best option.

    Generally, the best option is to retain, or at least consult with, a knowledgeable family law attorney, so that you can be informed regarding of your rights and responsibilities and what needs to be done in a divorce case.

    Some Family Law Attorneys offer "unbundled services", i.e., consultation services where you represent yourself, but get information, guidance, advice, and preparation of documents (in your name) from the attorney. That option is less expensive than retaining the attorney to represent you, but then you will be the person who receives and has to respond to documents in the case, and if you receive documents, it would be a good idea to promptly schedule another consultation with the "unbundled services" consulting attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/17/2010
    Goldberg Jones
    Goldberg Jones | Zephyr Hill
    Go to the court house early in the morning and work with the facilitators.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/17/2010
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    Go to the legal self-help center at your local courthouse. Their services are free. You can look up their info and procedures on your local county courthouse webpage. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/17/2010
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