There is so much to consider when getting divorced, from dividing marital assets, to spousal support, to child custody and support.
Divorce can also be an incredibly expensive process.This is especially true when it comes to hiring legal representation. In fact, divorce lawyers can take up the majority of the budget that you have set aside for divorce proceedings.
It is therefore not only important to find an attorney that is suitable and experienced for your particular case, but also to find legal representation that fits within your budget. This is why we have created a list of helpful tips for finding a cheap divorce lawyer.
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It is important not to be impulsive when choosing a divorce lawyer, so don’t just go for the first attorney that you meet. Remember that you are not obligated to retain an attorney when you meet with them, or do you have to pay them anything unless you have agreed to do so. When meeting with an attorney, be sure to ask them about their fees and billing structure. A reputable attorney will be able to provide you with their fee schedule or hourly rate before you hire them.
Some attorneys will offer flat-rate packages, particularly for “uncontested” divorces. With flat-rate packages, attorneys have an incentive to work more quickly and efficiently. However, this may not be the right move for everyone, particularly if your case could be dealt with at a lower cost on a per-hour basis.
With flat-rate packages, it is pretty straightforward to compare rates. Otherwise, it can be tricky to calculate the exact fee an attorney will charge (given that they are working on a per-hour basis).
Therefore, it is important to check online reviews and consider word-of-mouth to ascertain the general cost of a particular attorney. After doing so, you should arrange initial consultations with the attorney to determine both their suitability for your case, as well as their hour rate and retainer fee (this is an upfront sum).
Explore Legal Aid and Family Law Clinics
For matters such as divorce and child custody, some cities and states offer legal aid services for lower-income residents. Others work with non-profit programs to offer low-cost, or free, family law clinics.
If you do not qualify for these programs, city and state websites often offer lists of reputable and cheap divorce lawyers. Make sure to look at your city’s website, or the website of the court where you will file, to find resources like these.
Explore Law Schools and Paralegal Programs
If you are unable to find any public legal clinics, the next step is to contact a law school or paralegal program. Many of these will offer clinics to help students gain experience working on everyday legal issues.
These clinics are supervised by a licensed attorney who will review any legal documents that the students and paralegals prepare. Although these types of clinics will likely not be able to help you if your legal matters are highly complex, they can be a great alternative if you cannot find a divorce attorney that fits your budget.
Think About A DIY Divorce
Some people may be tempted to avoid looking for legal representation and handling the divorce themselves. However before thinking about this route, it’s worth considering the time that this will take, as well as how complicated your particular situation is.
If both parties agree on the most substantial issues involved in the case, then a DIY divorce from someone like 3Step, Divorce.com or Divorce Bob could be an affordable and relatively easy option. Some courts even offer simplified processes such as a “joint simplified” divorce. These can be quite quick and easy to accomplish, and will save both parties the cost of hiring an attorney.
If you are unable to use a simplified divorce process, then another option is using an online divorce service.
These services reduce the time spent figuring out which forms to file, how to file them, and in what order everything needs to be done. They guide you through the entire filing process and can save a lot of time. Many will also connect you with legal professionals who are able to answer your questions and review your forms for a reasonable per-hour or flat consultation fee.