Like weddings, divorces can be costly. Litigated divorce, in which the case goes to trial before a judge, is the most expensive type of divorce. There are a variety of other ways to resolve a divorce at a lower cost. Divorces that go to trial are significantly more expensive because of the additional legal fees involved.
A dispute over alimony, or spousal support, also increases the price substantially, even more so than disputes involving children. If a DIY divorce is the right choice for your situation, there's no doubt that it will cost much less than hiring a full-fledged divorce lawyer. A do-it-yourself divorce where you don't hire an attorney can cost as little as the required state fees. Like the total cost of divorce itself, the cost of divorce mediation can vary widely, depending on the circumstances of your case and whether you use private mediation or court-sponsored mediation.
As a legal matter, the divorce still needs to be filed with the court and the judge must issue a judgment, and many people still hire lawyers to help with this process. The issues in your divorce will not only affect how much you will pay an attorney, but they will also affect whether you need an attorney in the first place. More complicated “contested” divorces can be significantly more expensive, while uncontested divorces can be significantly cheaper. While every divorce requires legal dissolution of marriage, those who have an uncontested divorce generally pay only a filing fee, while couples contesting issues may have to pay additional fees for motions, court reporting services, and other miscellaneous court expenses.
Mediation may not go without some tense moments, but divorcing parties are willing to communicate and work together to reach out of court settlements, this option can be a great way to help keep costs down in a divorce. Divorcing parties who are more amicable and cooperative may find that their divorce will cost less and take less time compared to those who are uncooperative and face several unresolved disputes. However, deciding how to handle a divorce is significantly affected by the level of cooperation or conflict that exists between the two people who are divorcing. In addition to the state in which the divorce occurs, common important factors affecting the cost include whether or not professional legal help is hired, whether the couple lives in an urban or rural area, the complexity of the couple's finances, and the involvement of child custody issues in the divorce.
The option to give up an attorney and represent yourself pro se is more feasible and more likely to reduce costs in no-fault, no-contest divorces. Remember that you don't always need a divorce lawyer; divorce mediation can help reduce costs if there are contested issues you need to resolve.