The least expensive way to get a divorce is for both parties to come to an agreement on all of the issues, fill out the court forms, sign them, and file a joint petition for divorce. The court’s filing fee is $314. After waiting 90 days, you can have a court commissioner sign your agreed orders. Congratulations – you have just been divorced for $314.
However, a court commissioner can refuse to sign your proposed orders. That could happen for a number of reasons: forms that are improperly filled out; child support that has not been calculated properly; a parenting plan which is harmful to the children; or failure to follow court rules.
Mediation As An Option
If you and your spouse are unable to come to agreement, or if you are concerned that you might not be following the proper procedures, the least expensive way to get a divorce is by meeting with an experienced mediator. The cost of a good mediator will depend on the complexity of your situation but is often around $1,000 each.
By comparison, collaborative lawyers will often exceed that amount by three or four times The cost of litigated divorce without children averages around $13,000. A litigated case with children is likely to exceed $25,000. A complicated and highly litigated case that goes to trial can cost more than $100,000.
If you are unable to negotiate an agreed divorce, mediation is the best solution. An experienced mediator can often help both parties agree on all of the issues, and can answer your questions about how to prepare the mandatory forms. Successful mediation can save the parties tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses.
The bottom line: if things deteriorate, mediate.