If you have come to the conclusion that you and your spouse are heading towards the final decision to get divorced, this can feel like an extremely daunting and stressful time. The good news is that there are many options for getting through this experience in the quickest and cheapest way possible. Divorce does not need to cost an exorbitant amount or take up months of your time. This article will highlight and explain exactly how to go about this.
In order to execute your divorce in the cheapest and fastest way possible, it is important to note that you will need to handle a majority of the process yourself, from downloading your divorce documents to filing for divorce.
Complete and File a Summons
The first step in starting the divorce process is to complete a summons which essentially lets a court know that you would like to dissolve your marriage. The forms required for this may differ depending on your state and county. Visit your local county court website for more information. Be sure that you and your spouse are on the same page as to who will file the papers, as one of you will be the plaintiff and one of you will be the defendant. The spouse filing the papers is known as the plaintiff. The other spouse is known as the defendant.
Once you have completed the summons, it is advisable to get the forms reviewed by an attorney. These services can be free if you seek out certain legal practices which offer their first consultation at no cost. Once you are happy that the forms have been thoroughly reviewed and have no questions, the originals need to be filed with the court. You and your spouse should each have a copy. If the court determines that you have included all required information, your summons will be stamped as ‘filed’.
Serve your Spouse
Whether you and your spouse are on good terms or not, the court will need to know that your spouse has been ‘served’ by receiving a copy of the filed summons. These can be delivered by anyone over the age of 18, even a friend or family member, so long as it is not the other spouse. In certain states, you may be able to serve the divorce forms via registered mail, assuming your spouse is willing to receive them in this way. Regardless of the way in which you serve the papers, your spouse will need to provide you with a signature of receipt for you to issue to the court to show that the forms were delivered. Depending on your relationship with your spouse, this stage of the divorce can be quick and painless or it could drag out a bit longer should your spouse not want to accept or sign the forms.
Reaching Agreements with your Spouse
Once you have filed your summons and your spouse has provided proof of receipt, there will be a number of important decisions that have to be agreed upon with your spouse. Major decisions can include things like how to split assets and the maintenance of any children. If you and your spouse are not on amicable terms, this part of the divorce process could potentially be time consuming by requiring back and forth negotiations. This part of the process can make your ideally cheap divorce into a very costly experience. In order to avoid this from happening, if it is challenging for you and your spouse to reach a conclusion, use a mediator to save you time and money.
While a mediator cannot give you legal advice, they are skilled at facilitating discussions between spouses so as to avoid unnecessary conflict and delays. If all disputes are settled through mediation, your divorce can be an uncontested divorce. While you may still need to occasionally seek professional help, if your divorce is an uncontested divorce, you may be able to complete a majority of the process without an attorney saving you lots of money.
It is crucial to keep in mind that, in order for your divorce to be as cheap and quick as possible, you will need to be open to compromising with your spouse through the entire process. While this might be challenging, it is a sure way to ensure that your divorce process does not experience delays and unnecessary conflict between you and your spouse. Approach each part of the process with your spouse’s feelings and situation in mind. This will ensure that you and your spouse have a greater chance of completing a divorce as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Filing your Divorce Papers
Once you have reached agreements on all the elements of your divorce and recorded them, you will need to file the final divorce papers at the county court in which you or your spouse resides. Complete these forms in blue or black ink. Be sure that you do not skip any sections or questions as this could delay the process. If this part of the process feels daunting, it is worthwhile to enquire at your county court as to whether they offer free guidance sessions. Many courts offer this type of service for a small fee or completely free. Depending on your county, you may also be required to submit more than one copy of these forms. To save time, call ahead and find out exactly what the requirements are in terms of which forms you need and how many copies you will need to file of each. When filing these forms you will need to pay a filing fee at the county clerk.
Many states now make it possible to file for an online divorce and submit the forms through a website. Completing a divorce online is a great way to save money during the divorce process. Completing a divorce online may seem unusual, but this type of DIY divorce is becoming increasingly popular and is gradually being offered as an option in more states.
Attend Necessary Hearings and Classes
The rules and requirements differ greatly from state to state. Some states may require that you and your spouse attend a hearing in person before a divorce can be made final. Other counties may require that spouses with children attend parenting classes to ensure they are equipped to parent individually and address the divorce with their children in the most sensitive manner possible.
File any Remaining Documents
Once the above steps have been completed, the courts will issue you a final decree of divorce. While this is one of the final stages of the divorce process, it may be required that you still submit certain documents. Once you have satisfied any additional requirements, you will then need to file the decree as the final step in the process. You will save yourself a significant amount of time by being organized and submitting any outstanding documents as soon as you become aware they are needed. The faster you can deliver filings during the divorce process, the quicker and cheaper your divorce will be.
Wait for your final decree
The final step in the divorce process is for a judge to sign the final decree. The court will then make certified copies and provide both you and your spouse with one. It usually takes around 30 days to receive this final piece of documentation. Should you not receive it within this time frame, it is recommended that you follow up with the court.
The divorce process, from start to finish, does not need to be financially exhausting or drag out for months or even years. The final cost and length of time will vary with each case. We hope that the above information serves as your guide on how to complete the divorce process in the quickest and cheapest way possible.