Low Income Divorce Help

By Lainie Petersen
A divided heart.

cœur brisé image by Ellsing from Fotolia.com

If you want to get a divorce, or you have been served with divorce papers, you should be aware that assistance is available even if you can't afford a lawyer. Online document preparation services, low-cost legal services, and court fee waivers can all help to reduce your legal costs.

Divorce

When a couple divorces, they ask a judge to legally dissolve their marriage. As part of the divorce process, a couple needs to make decisions about how they want to divide their property and share custody of their children: If the couple cannot do this, a judge will have to make these decisions for them. This will increase the cost of the divorce.

Court Fees

Many county courts offer fee waivers for low-income people. Ask at the courthouse for the forms that you need to complete in order to qualify for the waiver. Some courthouses make these forms available on their website: Download the form, fill it in, and bring it to the courthouse. Just be sure you do this in advance of any court dates at which you are scheduled to appear.

Low Cost Legal Help

Your city or state's bar association may have a legal referral service that can connect you with a lawyer who will charge you reduced fees. You can also ask your local Legal Aid Society for guidance or referrals. Even if the Legal Aid Society cannot help you get a lawyer, they can often show you how to complete and file divorce forms on your own.

Document Preparation Services

If you decide to represent yourself in court, you can hire a legal document preparation company to prepare your forms for you. In some cases these services have lawyers on staff who will review your forms to make sure that they are complete and accurate.

Warning

If you are served with divorce papers, do not ignore them. Your spouse can get a default judgment against you in court which could have serious financial ramifications for you. If you don't have money to hire a lawyer, but your spouse does, you can ask the judge to award you temporary maintenance that can include lawyers fees.

About the Author

Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.

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