Seeking an uncontested or mutually consenting divorce in Pennsylvania without hiring an attorney is the cheapest route. A divorce lawyer can help you with child custody arrangements to ensure that your parental rights are protected. A low hourly rate will not automatically translate into a low-cost divorce if an unscrupulous and inexperienced lawyer pays his bill with unnecessary trips to court or unproductive phone calls and letters to the opposing lawyer. It will also take time for your lawyer to negotiate a settlement agreement and, if that doesn't work, even more time to prepare and represent you in a divorce trial.
When all the issues raised in the divorce petition have been resolved by agreement or court order, a judgment of divorce will be issued. However, the amount your divorce will end up costing could be much higher or much lower than those averages depending on a variety of factors, including how many contested issues are involved in your case, as well as the divorce route you take. Fault divorces tend to be more expensive, due to the time it takes lawyers to present evidence to support or counter misconduct claims; lawyers may also need to hire outside experts, such as private investigators. It's also possible to ask an attorney to help you with only parts of your case, such as reviewing your divorce agreement, drafting divorce papers, or attending a hearing with you.
It's also important to realize that divorce can end up affecting your wallet long after your divorce decree is issued. If you are concerned about being able to afford a divorce lawyer, it may help to know that Pennsylvania law authorizes judges to order one spouse to pay the other's attorney's reasonable fees and expenses while the divorce is still ongoing. After 90 days have elapsed since the original divorce papers were filed, both spouses can file affidavits stating that they consent to the divorce. However, it's almost always preferable to have an attorney involved, even if it's just to review your divorce agreement for mistakes you might be making or problems you might be overlooking.
The low-cost divorce option in PA is called a “no-fault and mutually consented divorce, also known as a no-contest divorce. A Pennsylvania divorce lawyer can guide you through the options available to you so that you can choose the right route for your situation and reduce legal costs, if that is your goal. A good family lawyer can help you navigate the many questions and uncertainties that arise with filing for divorce in Pennsylvania. The best advice for choosing the right divorce lawyer in Pennsylvania is to seek character, education and reputation.
A no-fault divorce means that the spouses do not accuse each other of any misconduct, such as adultery, desertion, cruel or other treatment, and only want their divorce to be finalized based on an irretrievable breakup.