How To Get A Cheap Divorce

We’re not saying you should get divorced, but if you’re going to get divorced… why not make it a cheap divorce? ABC News has an extensive article about cheap divorces and how to get them. The main message seems to be that you’ll need to put aside your differences and work it out… and if you were good at that you wouldn’t be getting divorced, right? From ABC News:

Greenberg said the most common mistake couples make is to assume that justice is an absolute.

Each party firmly believes that if it gets its day in court, it will be vindicated. But, according to Greenberg, going to court is a gamble. “Justice can be elusive,” said Greenberg. And, she adds, more than 95 percent of all divorce cases end up being settled out of court. “There’s a reason for that.”

Even though it’s tempting, resist the impulse to run out and hire that famous “attack-dog” divorce lawyer you’ve heard so much about. “They’re in pain and they’re hurting and they’re afraid of getting screwed and they feel powerless, so they reach out and get a lawyer … but getting a lawyer doesn’t always have to mean getting a warrior.”

Greenberg advocates trying to talk to your partner before you rush to the experts.

The moral of this article is that the meaner the divorce… the more expensive it’ll be.

How to Beat the High Cost of Divorce [ABC News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. banned says:

    I agree, divorce is just a scam to make lawyers money and make them feel like they have worth in society.

  2. axiomatic says:

    All I wish was that men could get divorced without gender bias in the south. (U.S. South) Stupid bible belt…

  3. wring says:

    I bought a $20 book, that’s all I paid for mine. Then again, I’m poor and ex and I have no properties to divide. Most courts have divorce clinics that will help you out with paperwork. If you’re lucky you only pay for the gas to get there (and maybe a few dollars to photocopy forms).

  4. Youthier says:

    Ugh, I hate that stupid cake topper. I can’t tell if they’re stereotyping a woman dragging a man to the altar or that men have to be totally wasted to get married. Whichever it is, I hate it.

  5. timmus says:

    I think if couples can convince one another to take a look at potential attorney fees in a messy divorce ($25,000) it is definitely a motivator to work things out. My wife and I are actually divorcing right now (not my wish, unfortunately) and have seen attorneys for advice. We’re only in the hole $300 and have agreed to all our terms. I doubt we’ll be paying much more beyond that, so the only remaining costs are the hidden costs of splitting up the household.

    Of course if one of the spouses is a psycho, then all bets are off.

  6. Thrust says:

    Thrust’s handy-dandy divorce law revision.

    “Til Death do you part”… Literally
    The initiator of the divorce has choice of location, which must be declared before the other involved party makes his/her choice of weapons. In the event of a divorce desired on grounds of physical abuse, the party accused of dealing the abuse will have his/her appendage used for said physical abuse removed prior to the duel.

  7. cattery says:

    My divorce only cost me a few dollars for the notary. I made the ex pay for the whole thing cause he’s a douche.

  8. Marce says:

    I know of an artist who is getting an amicable divorce. She blogs about it every so often, from her soon-to-be-ex holding on to furniture and things for her while she moves across the country for her career. It makes me a little sad that she should blog that with surprise and I should read it with surprise.

  9. JohnMc says:

    From a guy who has been divorced 3 times I have a suggestion. If you MUST get married, sign the divorce papers first. I am not talking prenup, but the real thing you would file at the court house. Prenups are guaranteed to drag you into court.

    Seems odd to do the spit before the union but it does work.

    Oh and AXIOMATIC, the South has nothing on PA. If I lived in PA and was told by the soon to be ex that she is filing, run, don’t walk to another state. Literally, quit your job and move. PA’s divorce system in the family law courts are a travesty. Then fight like hell for a change of venue other than PA.

  10. a_m_m_b says:

    be prepared in case the courts argue with your & your soon-to-be-ex about your arrangements: have’m written out & signed by both of you.

    that’s the only thing that got the state of our backs regarding visitation & child support when we filed for divorce + Ch7.

  11. FuturShoc says:

    This is an excellent and timely topic and I’m really glad to see you folks bring it up and foster discussion.

    I had one of the world’s easiest divorces despite the fact that I was married 10 years and have a daughter involved. The key here, as Timmus alluded to, is not having a psychotic spouse. In my situation, it was basically amicable – a mutual agreement on what was best for all. Luckily, we’re both very rational and logical people.

    Since I have more financial capacity to build a new household, I left most of the “stuff” for her without hesitation. In return, she paid the mortgage and bills while I saved to pay for a house in the final two months.

    A couple of unheard-of stipulations of our settlement (we never saw court): I pay 50%+ of my daughter’s expenses. You could call that child support, but there is no official statement as such in our decree. Also, we have true “joint custody” of our daughter and she splits her time between our two households. (We live in the same town precisely to make this possible.) We were informed by my lawyer that Arkansas law would never award joint custody if we went to court. Someone would have to be primary and in all likelihood, I’d be relegated to “every other weekend dad”. Neither of us wanted that, so it was a real motivator to stay out of court.

    Long story short, sit down and have a rational discussion and leave emotion out of it. Its hard as hell to do, but its worth it. (She actually never hired a lawyer herself and we only had a couple of rounds of revisions to do when the decree was finalized.)

    It *is* possible to make it far, far easier than the greedy lawyers want you to think.

  12. tempfoot says:

    I had an amicable divorce in 2004. Total out of pocket was $1400 for court costs and attorney fees. Even though I am a lawyer I don’t do any domestic work (I’m in house for a company). We managed to agree on everything – even handling two kids – selling a house etc. As a result we used one lawyer of her choosing to paper up our agreement, help get us to court and get all the right papers filed. We had an unusual level of cooperation (she’s a realtor and helped sell my house when I couldn’t afford it – damned ARMs – for no commission) and we’ve otherwise gotten along very well – though it did take work.

    In talking to others considering a cooperative divorce – here are things that help – though they aren’t the kinds of things that you can run right out and do:

    1. Plenty of money. We both earn enough to comfortably maintain nice households and neither have particularly material appetites so there wasn’t a conflict about who would thrive and who would starve. Even though our child support is a court mandated formula we worked to make things equitable.

    2. No major conflicts over parenting. There was no disagreement about religion, medicine, education, nor most importantly the importance of both parents involvement. Neither of us is allowed to move further than 30 miles from the other period. When she decided to move in with someone – I voluntarily moved to a different part of the metro area so that the 30 mile rule was intact.

    3. Nobody did anything wrong. Obviously not everyone will be in this situation, but nobody cheated, lied, stole, got addicted to drugs or otherwise breached a trust.

    4. Willingness to do co-parenting therapy. Courts in our state require a Saturday session on parenting. We didn’t have to go because we spent a year in weekly therapy on co-parenting with a great therapist. We spent a long time on what went wrong – dealing with the past and feelings that came from that. Then we spent a month on what was happening right then daily kid issues and unraveling things. Then we spent some time on a framework for the future. It wasn’t easy (especially the time I pocket called my new girlfriend by accident from a therapy session…about her! note to self: lock your phone going into therapy) but it was invaluable.

    Best of luck if your reading this because you are heading there.

  13. AcidReign says:

    &nbsp &nbsp It’s the missing “reasonable” part that prevents amicable divorces. And as the post said, if both parties could communicate and work out differences, they probably wouldn’t be getting divorced in the first place.

    &nbsp &nbsp A disclaimer: I am male, so no, the following rant isn’t some hysterical feminist cry for attention! Although, it might be a “crude Bubba” cry for attention. Fair enough.

    &nbsp &nbsp First, more than half of the men I’m around regularly, are supreme turds towards their wives. Fact. I know one who “won’t let” his wife work, gives her $30 a week for groceries, then gripes at work that “th’ dayam beyotch cooked chicken agin!” Then you’ve got the ones who deer-hunt all weekend, and get pissed when they drag back in at 8:00 PM Sunday night and there’s no supper on the table. My favorite turds are the Bible-thumpers who brag about how they make their women submit to them, as per scripture. They conveniently forget about little quotes like Ephesians 5:25, ” Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

    &nbsp &nbsp Next sacred cow to kick is the one about long-suffering divorced men getting screwed regarding custody of the children. On the average, women generally display much more of a care-giver mentality than men. That’s been a long-observed tradition. Sure, there are instances otherwise. And in the past century, those lines are becoming more blurred. But admit it, guys. Your wife does a lot more of the child-care, and is better at it, in most cases. In most states, unless you can show that the mother is of diminished capacity, she’s going to get custody.

    &nbsp &nbsp Guys will usually get some sort of visitation rights spelled out in a divorce. What does this mean? In practice, it means that you, divorced father, are at the mercy of the Ex, as far as visitation goes. So, how are we taught? If you want something, you need to ask nicely. This goes doubly here. She’s not your punching bag anymore, either verbally or physically. Crab, piss and moan at your ex-wife, and she’s not going to be inclined to work with you. Being reasonable helps, too. Calling her up at midnight and asking if you can take the kid out of school for a week, to go on a trip, isn’t going to fly.

    &nbsp &nbsp Advice goes to the women: if he treats you like garbage while you’re dating, DON’T marry him! It’s only going to get worse! At the risk of offending the moralists, I think couples should move in for a few weeks and have a trial period as roommates. If you can’t agree about housekeeping and simple stuff, you sure don’t need to have kids together! And a couple must, must, MUST be of like minds about household finance.

    &nbsp &nbsp As far as getting a “fair” divorce in court, from the cases I’ve seen, the Judge doesn’t care who did what to whom. Unless one or the other parent is shown to be a danger to the children, the court is going to try to wash its hands of the case, issue a result that pleases no one, and move on to the next. More than ever, it’s to both parties’ best interests to work it all out beforehand, reasonably.

    &nbsp &nbsp Let the backlash of flames begin.

  14. othium says:

    @AcidReign: I don’t agree with your opinion that the woman should get sole custody. There are reports that show shared custody works better. I personally believe that there should be a presumed assumption of shared custody in all divorce situations (when no abuse is involved) by law. A child needs BOTH parents an equal amount of time. The view that “moms automatically get full custody” need to go. Men are just as capable of taking care of their children as women.

    My state recently changed it’s child support statute to take into account the income of BOTH parents (the way it should be IMHO). It was a long battle that was fought by the Social Service and Lawyer’s lobbies all the way, but finally passed. (Seems to be the same two groups that fight any reform that gets proposed. When it may take money from them, they suddenly find a reason to object to the new reform. How odd..)

  15. FeralKoala says:

    @rocknrule: “I agree, divorce is just a scam to make lawyers money…” These days, so is marriage itself.

  16. Thrust says:

    The whole custody of children thing is really fucked up right now, which is odd because it is so simple.

    If one of the parents cannot financially provide for the child/children he or she should only receive visitation rights until such time that he/she can support the child. In the case where the one with financial stability does not want the child, the other parent would have sole custody of the child while the financially stable parent must pay appropriate levels of child support.

    If/once you have a situation where both parents could support the child/children there are three options.
    A: If one parent is willing to forgo custody, the other parent will have full custody but is not entitled to any child support.
    B: If both parents desire custody, they can either agree to full 50/50 time with the child with no support payments, or they can go to the courts to fight for full custody. The one awarded custody will receive no child support payments.
    C: If neither parent wants custody of the child (meaning they are real bastards), the child would be assigned to the parent with the most financial stability. In the case of multiple children, they would be distributed evenly between the parents.

  17. @Thrust: “In the case of multiple children, they would be distributed evenly between the parents.”

    As one of four children, I think this is a f*cking terrible idea. In many ways your siblings are closer to you than your parents (and, in the end, they’ll be the only people who’ve known you your whole life who are with you your whole life, since parents typically die before their children and spouses enter the picture late). Separating siblings in some bizarre misguided attempt to “distribute them evenly” between the parents has got to be substantially more damaging than the divorce itself or even tricky shared custody situations. Even DCFS tries not to separate siblings!


    @all — More and more states require mandatory divorce arbitration before you’re ALLOWED to go to court. In most cases this works fairly well and keeps costs down.

    As a lawyer I don’t do divorces — much too ugly and upsetting far too much of the time. You can’t pay me enough to get in the middle of someone else’s family squabble.

  18. nevin says:

    What a co-incidence. I found out today that my wife has been having an affair with her best friend’s husband. Could someone tell me at what point I started living on Wisteria Drive?

  19. AcidReign says:

    &nbsp &nbsp @othium: I didn’t say women should, absolutely, definitively get full custody. My statement was more of the “this is what’s going to happen” variety. IF the parents can get along, I don’t think joint custody’s necessarily a bad thing. If one party uses their time to bad-mouth the other parent, then that puts the kid under a LOT of stress.

    &nbsp &nbsp Also, I think anyone with a brain and a little empathy IS capable of being a good parent. As I see it, though, there are a higher percentage of men who are jackasses, than women. And that’s my totally unscientific, seat-of-the-pants judgement call. The scumbag whose hunting club or drinking nights takes precedence over the family is also going to be the parent who serves up junk meals (if he serves up meals at all), fails to change diapers/sends the kid home with a burnt-up bottom, and/or dumps the kid at grandmaw’s for most of his visitation weekend.

    &nbsp &nbsp Or the guy is a brain-trust who, on the 4th of July, lights magnum artillery shells un-braced, on a freaking table, with the kid less than flight distance away! Guys like that ruin it for us all.


  20. ZonzoMaster says:

    @nevin: I don’t know, but you should probably talk about it, there’s a reason for that kind of things happening (AND IM NOT SAYING IT’S YOUR FAULT). Good luck.

  21. bleacheddecay says:

    Custody of children should be given to the person who can afford to raise them? Default custody should be joint if both people have the money to pay for the kids? Please tell me I didn’t read that right. That kind of thinking really makes me mad.

    I’ll tell you what I think. I’ve been a child of divorce. I’ve also been divorced. That sort of thinking is what is wrong with child custody in the court system currently. It presumes that kids are like property.

    The law actually supports that assumption which is unfortunate. Marriage also support the assumption that women are property too or rather it did in it’s inception. Let no one believe that marriage is something created for women and by women. It was done just the opposite for men and by men. The benefits to them are numerous though societal grousing might lead us all to assume otherwise.

    The law generally and shockingly does not take into account what is in the child’s best interest. Money alone does not a good parent make. Why people keep thinking that is the main thing in raising children I will never understand. The government only cares about money in such situation so as to make sure government incurs at little financial responsibility for the kids at possible. That is the sole reason that a pregnant lady can’t get a divorce in my state. They want the father on the hook for support so government doesn’t have to be.

    Children in joint custody situations are often treated more like luggage rather than people. Kids need one solid non chaotic home base with clear rules. They need one parent to absolutely rely on. They do not enjoy being shuttled around for the parent’s convenience. I’m serious here. Talk to a child in this situation who can trust you and be honest sometime. It would be great if both parties could get along and do what is best for the children, rather than what they want. That’s far too rare an occurrence though.

    Rarely are both parties able to act in a calm and reasonable fashion in a divorce situation with each other. Yes, again with the, if they could do that would they really be getting a divorce in the first place. This unfortunately leads to all kinds of unpleasant situations for a child.

    Often the kids are used as weapons and pawns between the two “adults”. Men tend, when they are hurt, even if they instigated the sequence that lead to the divorce, to strike back anyway they can. They feel horribly attacked if “their” money is to be used for the child at all.

    Women on average, tend to be most worried about the kids. They may be angry and act out about that in myriad creative ways but the kids are usually the main thing they care about.

    Granted I’ve seen women who did not deserve to be parents and were horrible at it. In those cases I hope the men get custody. I’ve seen a far greater percentage of men that don’t deserve to be parents. I’ve seen too many cases where they literally brought about the death of their kids through their own bone headed
    stupidity. Far more common is the damage is never seen though. It’s emotional damage that is difficult to measure.

    Sure society is changing. Some women are becoming perhaps more callous. Some men are becoming perhaps more nurturing. Yet the stereotypes are there for a reason folks. Women do tend to be the most willing to actually parent in a concrete moment to moment way.

    If you do research about joint custody I think you will find there is currently a backlash against it because it does not work well for the kids. It took a decade or two for the “authorities” to figure that out.

    It’s a shame that kids can’t have two well adjusted adults for parents most of the time. That would be ideal. However spending time with someone who is damaging to a child just because of DNA is quite a nightmare for that child. That goes for joint custody or standard visitation.

    Let me tell you how divorce really works in the South. If you care about what is best for your child and you are being deserted by a man, you get an attorney who is preferably good in both criminal and divorce law. He or She doesn’t have to cost anywhere near $25,000.

    Unless you are going to do a lot of research and gamble about that child’s future being properly and legally provided for you get that attorney. In my opinion you have a fiduciary mandate to do what you can to secure that money from the father for the child.

    A lot of women are still stay at home parents. Men often discount how valuable the services of his wife, the mother of his kids are. These women are usually not making money outside the home at all. That doesn’t mean the primary caregiver of the children should be ripped away from them. No child will thank you for that unless there are other problems with that parent.

    Back to divorce in the south, you make your agreement with your soon to be ex through an attorney. The papers get signed. There is usually no court date at all that you attend. If you are so blind and stupid as to think you should have your date in course, you will be told that you should settle things outside in the corridor that day. Very, few actually end up in front of a judge. You have to be a complete bozo to “need” that. Judges just sign your agreements. His clerk puts a seal on it. You get a copy about a month later.

    The more people who can be healthily involved the kids without trying to own them or undermine the primary parent the better for the kids. Of course two parents(who can deal fairly with the kids in a non damaging way) are best. Who decides that though? Anytime the government gets involved in judge who is good and who is bad gross mistakes will be made.

    In the best of all possible worlds everyone would play fair and be respectful, not just of one another, but of the children as well. However humans are rarely able to achieve the best of all possible worlds.

    When we don’t, the kids need one person, not a committee, not one parent with “enough” money but simply one to be in charge instead of two fighting ‘rents to keep things in chaos