5 Ways to Get a Divorce

How will you choose to divorce?

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Think hiring an attorney is the only way to get divorced? Think again. There are five ways to get divorced, from economical to most expensive. Which one is right for you?


1. Do-It-Yourself Divorce:


You and your spouse have resolved all financial, tax and parenting issues. You have the time to read through lengthy instructions, draft the paperwork and file papers in court. Most states or bar associations sell handbooks (often called a "Friendly Divorce Handbook") on how to manage your own divorce and fill out the paperwork.

You can also search on-line for your state's website on uncontested divorces for a brief version of the information.

Cost: $200 - $500 for filing fees.

Speed: Takes a couple weeks to do the paperwork and obtain notarized signatures, but you'll still have to wait for a final divorce order from the court, which could take 2 weeks to 6 months, depending on the court.


2. On-line Do-It-Yourself Divorce:


This is similar to the Do-It-Yourself Divorce, except that you don't have to obtain the blank court documents. Instead, the on-line software program asks you questions, you type in your answers and the program will fill out the paperwork for you. Then you print out the final documents, get them notarized and file them in court.

Cost: $400-$1000 (includes the on-line program and filing fees).

Speed: Slightly faster than the typical Do-It-Yourself Divorce because the on-line program simplifies the paperwork.


3. Mediated Divorce:


If you and your spouse have not resolved on all financial, tax and parenting issues, but you are able to sit down in the same room together, then a neutral mediator who guides you both through the issues might be right for you. The goal of mediation is to help you reach a settlement without going to court.

Not all mediators are attorneys. If he/she is also an attorney, then the mediator-attorney will prepare the legal documents and file them in court for you. Mediation is voluntary but becomes binding when a signed agreement is reached.

Cost: In 2005 the average cost of a mediated divorce was $3,000.

Speed: Settlement and final divorce can normally be reached within 90 days.


4. Collaborative Divorce:


In a collaborative divorce, each party has their own attorney and other divorce professionals as a "team" in the hope of avoiding divorce court. Collaborative divorce lawyers are trained to approach divorce in a non-adversarial way that promotes negotiation instead of litigation.

Cost: Collaborative divorce is more costly than mediation at between $19,000 and $20,000. 

Speed: The time it takes to obtain a collaborative divorce will depend on the willingness of both parties to negotiate a settlement. 


5. Litigated Divorce:


In a litigated divorce, each party hires their own attorney to advocate for them during the divorce process. Due to its very nature, litigated divorce is more adversarial, doesn't promote conflict resolution and as a result, costs more money. 

Cost: Can cost over $25,000 depending on the degree of conflict.

Speed: Litigated divorce can be a slow process and should be avoided if possible.