How to Get a Divorce With No Money: Tips for Affording a Divorce

Chelsy Meyer  | 

With the cost of divorce being high, it can feel hopeless for those looking for a divorce without the funds to do so. This is especially true for those who know the possibility for an uncontested divorce is nearly impossible. It’s important for people to know that there are options when you don’t have the money to get a divorce. Knowing some tips and tricks for finding cheaper forms, fee waivers, and deals for representation can make getting a divorce with no money possible.

Get Divorce Forms Online for Free

Knowing where to start when you’re looking at how to get a divorce can be confusing, especially when your funds are limited. The first step is to look into the forms you need for your specific location. You can get those forms online for free by looking on your courthouse’s website. They will likely have forms you can download or print. You may be able to pick them up from the courthouse as well, and that way you’ll have someone there who can answer your questions if you have any.

While you’re there, look for an instruction booklet which can help guide you. Each state is different, but these forms will help you to grasp exactly what you’ll need as far as information and funds. If you can’t afford the fees that the forms outline, you know that it’s time to start planning for other avenues.

Request Fee Waivers

There are fees associated with many aspects of the divorce process. The cost of divorce will depend on a variety of different variables, and one of them is small but significant: filing and court fees. Fortunately, you can request fee waivers designed to help those with limited finances obtain a divorce. For those that are able to obtain an uncontested divorce where the only real financial hurdle standing in their way is the cost of filing fees and court fees, fee waivers can be exactly what they need.

Filing Fees

While you’re obtaining the forms to file for divorce, you’ll also want to obtain the forms to ask for a filing fee waiver. Check to see the process for this and availability in your county. In order to qualify, you’ll have to provide information on your lack of funds. This shouldn’t be a problem since you’ll need that information with your divorce paperwork already.

Court Fees

Not only can you get filing fees waived or deferred, you can also get your court fees waived as well. You’ll want to check to see if your state offers an indigent divorce or fee waiver procedure. This will allow you to file for divorce without the associated fees. It will also request that the court fees be waived as well.

How to Get a Divorce Lawyer for Free

Though fee waivers are perfect for people interested in uncontested divorces who just can’t afford the fees, that’s not the case for everyone. For those who know that an uncontested divorce isn’t possible with the dynamics of their marriage, they can feel trapped. Especially for those experiencing abuse, who have no control over their household funds, or who don’t have any financial resources or savings, a complicated divorce can seem impossible. This is where a free divorce lawyer can make all the difference.

Get a Free Divorce Lawyer Consultation

You should be able to get a free divorce lawyer consultation in your area. This will be a quick meeting, so it’s best to get your questions ready when you meet with them. The lawyer will have advice, an estimated quote for their service, and information on how this will work for your situation in your state. Even if you don’t use them or can’t afford them, it can be helpful for them to give you their insight into your situation.

Negotiate a Deal With Your Attorney

Even if you can’t afford an attorney for their normal rates, it might be worth a conversation with your attorney. They can offer discounted rates, installment payments, or another negotiated deal that works for you. If you’re struggling to make your finances work with attorney rates, it’s at least worth it to ask.

Find a Volunteer Lawyers Organization

Contact the bar association in your area and ask about volunteer lawyer organizations in your county. Ask about low cost or no cost legal services programs in your area. There are plenty of organizations that specialize in difficult cases such as people in abusive situations that are unable to obtain any financial means to get a divorce.

Hire a Paralegal

Hiring a paralegal isn’t the same as getting a lawyer, but it’s cheaper and provides access to legal help at a discounted rate. They can help you to represent yourself in a pro se divorce, assist you in looking over legal paperwork that is confusing, and tell you where and how to find the right paperwork to file throughout the process. Divorce can sometimes take a long time, so it can be helpful to have a legal pair of eyes on your proceedings.

Pro Se Representation: Do It Yourself

You are able to represent yourself in a pro se divorce, also known as a do-it-yourself divorce. Contact your courthouse and ask about a packet to help you through this process. Whether you do this with or without the help of a paralegal, it’s a cheaper alternative — though riskier. Not having a lawyer there to look over your paperwork and let you know what your rights are can lead to a settlement that isn’t in your favor. Unfortunately, it’s the only option for many in tight financial situations.

Some may feel cornered in their need for a divorce and the roadblocks that make a divorce seem impossible. Questioning the need for divorce isn’t uncommon, but you shouldn’t allow something like money to keep you from seeking a way out of your marriage. Especially in a troublesome situation, know that there are alternatives and options to help. A free divorce might be rare, but in extreme situations there are ways around the filing fees, court fees, and lawyer fees. Not only that, but uncontested divorces are the cheapest route if your situation makes sense for one. Lacking a financial backing may feel like divorce is an impossibility for you, but know that there are options available to make divorce affordable.


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Chelsy is a writer from Montana who now lives in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She enjoys talk radio, cold coffee, and playing Frisbee with her dog, Titan. Follow Chelsy on Twitter @Chelsy5

This post was updated March 29, 2018. It was originally published April 3, 2018.