Divorce is a difficult time in anyone’s life and it can also be a very expensive time, especially if you don’t understand the process and can’t afford an attorney to represent you. “Divorce is a complex legal process. It’s best to know what the process entails and what to expect as it unfolds. The more informed you are, the fewer surprises there will be.” And of course, those surprises Fernandez mentioned can be what end up costing you more money. But, there are ways to save money and there are (believe it or not!) alternatives to hiring a lawyer to represent you in all aspects of a divorce.
Divorces tend to be expensive because spouses fight over every aspect of the split. Divorce will be much less expensive when spouses set aside their differences and agree to compromise. “A judge will refuse to sign off on a divorce until all issues including property division, alimony, and child custody are resolved. A contested divorce, where spouses disagree, will take longer to resolve and demand more resources.” “Spouses who can’t agree about how their divorce should unfold will have to look to others for help. This help isn’t always cheap. Expert witnesses, such as therapists and forensic accountants, can be expensive. Using arbitration or mediation is another added expense.” Negotiating the terms of the split privately before the divorce papers are filed is the number one way to cut down on costs. If you and your spouse can’t agree on anything else, maybe you can both agree you both want to spend as little as possible to split? It’s at least a good place to start. Hire a lawyer to consult and guide you through the case without having that lawyer represent you in court “Many states allow paralegals to draft documents for people representing themselves in a divorce. It is important to know the laws that apply to paralegals drafting court documents in your state to ensure the paralegal you hire is authorized to help with your divorce. However, paralegals are prohibited from giving you legal advice in all states.”
Finance your divorce
Although this may not be a wise approach for everyone, divorce finance companies provide financing for divorce and other legal matters. “This approach, however, presents the danger of accumulating a significant amount of debt at a time when finances are already stretched to their limits. Incurring more debt through financing your divorce, therefore, should only be considered if you are assured of receiving a sufficient amount of assets in the divorce to repay that loan and still have enough money to move on with your life after the divorce.”
Do not be shy to ask a divorce attorney if he or she will work for free or at a discounted hourly rate. “Although most attorneys expect to be paid their normal hourly rate, there are times when a case appears so compelling to a lawyer that he or she will agree to take the case pro bono or at a significantly reduced hourly rate.”
Consider Mediation Instead Of Litigation
“Mediation is preferable for many couples because it provides a way for parties to work out the financial and logistical aspects of their divorce without the stress and financial hardship of an adversarial approach,” attorney and mediators.“ It keeps the decision making in their hands, instead of a judge. In fact, mediation is about 70% cheaper than litigation, on average. Further, some mediators offer a pay-as-you-go process to couples. With this opportunity, parties can pace out their process in a way that works for their budget and schedule.” Pay-as-you-go sounds doable.
Uncontested Divorce in Utah
Divorce can be devastating; however, uncontested divorces are often less devastating to your finances and sanity than contested ones. Your divorce does not have to become a soap opera. Instead, Utah’s uncontested divorce process allows spouses to reach an agreement on their own and avoid the stress and anxiety associated with attending a trial before a judge. The uncontested process can be relatively quick, and certainly less expensive than taking a divorce to trial. Uncontested divorces are an option available to divorcing Utah couples with or without children. These types of divorces are generally less expensive and faster than traditional divorces because you avoid the expense of attorneys, custody evaluations and hiring experts for trial. If you and your spouse are able to agree on all issues regarding your divorce, including child custody, visitation and support, then an uncontested divorce is a real option. However, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on any issue in your divorce, then your divorce becomes contested and you will be required to attend a trial where a judge will decide the remaining issues in your divorce case.
The following is a list of some of the major issues that must be resolved between you and your spouse before filing an uncontested divorce action in Utah:
• division of real estate and personal property
• division of debts and assets
• child custody and visitation if you and your spouse have minor children
• child support, health and insurance coverage
• alimony or spousal support, and
• any other issues related to your marriage.
Beginning the Uncontested Divorce Process in Utah
To obtain an uncontested divorce in Utah you must meet the following criteria:
• you or your spouse have resided in Utah for at least 3 months, if minor children are involved, you must have resided in Utah for 6 months
• you and your spouse have agreed on all issues in your divorce, and
• child support and spousal support, custody and visitation are not requested, or there is a written agreement signed and notarized by both parties resolving those issues.
If you meet all of the above criteria, you may proceed with your uncontested divorce by filing the required forms set forth below. If you plan to file for divorce without the help of an attorney, you will be responsible for filing the right documents with the right court. Utah’s district courts oversee divorce cases and trials. Utah has approximately 70 judges serving in the state’s eight judicial districts. Where you live will determine where you file for divorce because generally, you will file your divorce paperwork in the county in which you live. If you and your spouse have separated but still reside in Utah, either the county in which you lived, or where your spouse has lived for the last three months is proper to file your paperwork.
Preparing Divorce Forms
The Utah Courts site offers online forms for completing an uncontested divorce available here and or in hard copy at your local courthouse. The following documents must be filed with your divorce paperwork:
• Civil Coversheet
• Petition for Divorce
• Vital Statistics Form/Certificate of Dissolution
• Acceptance of Service
• Affidavit of Jurisdiction and Grounds
• Military Service Declaration and Order
• Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law
• Decree of Divorce
If you and your spouse have children together under the age of 18, then the following forms must be filed as well:
• Child Support Worksheet
• Affidavit of Income and Compliance with Child Support Guidelines
• Financial Declarations, and
• Child Support Locator.
The required paperwork to complete a divorce in Utah may vary in your particular county, and thus, forms in addition to those listed above may be required to complete your divorce. Check with your local court clerk for more information and to determine whether you need to file additional forms.
Completing Your Divorce
Utah has a mandatory 90-day waiting period to complete a divorce. Under extraordinary circumstances, the 90-day waiting period may be waived. However, before a divorce will be granted to parents of minor children, both spouses must complete the Divorce Education Course. Utah does not require that you attend a court hearing before a judge will finalize your uncontested divorce. Instead, if all your paperwork is filed correctly and the judge finds that your agreement is reasonable and/or in the best interests of your children, then the judge will sign the Findings and Decree of Divorce. Note that the date the judge signs your Decree, is when your divorce becomes final. Getting a quick divorce can save you and your partner both emotional and financial anguish. However, when children are involved, it can be difficult since there will be the issues of child support and custody battles to work out. To succeed in dissolving the marriage quickly, these details must be solved in the fairest way for both parties. The cheapest way to get a divorce with a child involves both you and your spouse to remain cordial, and be ready to compromise on several issues. Property division and child custody, which are the main battle fronts in most divorce proceedings. To get a cheap divorce, you can start the process online and minimize the number of professional services you contract. In order to get the cheapest divorce possible, you must make sure that both you and your spouse are willing to work together and your divorce is uncontested.
• Use an online divorce paper preparation service to help you fill out your paperwork in as little as 30 minutes at a budget friendly cost ($149 – $399). Additionally, there are some states that allow for e-filing but the majority of states don’t have this option. From the courts website, you can prepare the forms right from your computer without any legal assistance. From here you can save the prepared files in a PDF format and print several copies.
• Ensure the divorce is uncontested (you and your spouse agree to everything) and that your spouse agrees to the terms stated in the papers. These include child support, custody, visitation, asset and debt division among other critical issues.
• Ensure all the divorce details are in the papers you have prepared. These include your vital details like names, social security numbers, addresses, marriage date and location, children names and the property you are dividing. Remember to include the reason for divorce. Be careful when getting forms from the local state court site, each state has different requirements and it can be easy to miss one form required in your county.
• Check the court site if it has adequate information, or ask the court clerk how to file the divorce paperwork. Then proceed to pay any of the required fees in your county and state in addition to the document preparation fee. You can then file these papers online or submit them to the court clerk in case you cannot complete an online filing. If you’re using an online divorce service, you can speak with someone over the phone to get help on filing out the paperwork.
• If required, you will have your spouse served with the papers. This must be done by someone older than 18 years or use a professional process server service. You are not allowed to serve the papers yourself.
• Prepare divorce papers that are a favorable compromise between the two parties, something both of you can live with. When you do this, there are fewer chances of either of you going to court to make motions later.
• Add all the necessary supplemental forms to your original documents. Alternatively, ask your attorney to help complete the papers. An online divorce is a cheaper alternative to the traditional uncontested divorce. It helps prevent the emotional turmoil associated with divorce proceedings and removes many of the court process formalities.
Even if you plan on representing yourself, divorce can be expensive. However, there are ways to make it cheaper or even divorce with no money. Here are some tips to go about it:
Divorce fee waiver
Each state has an indigent fee waiver that allows you to file for your divorce without paying the filing costs. When you go into your local court, ask the court’s clerk what forms you need inorder to waive the fees. This option is only available and designed for those with limited finances while filing for divorce.
Utah Divorce Lawyer
When you need a Utah Divorce Attorney for Help with Divorce or Child Custody in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506