Less Expensive Divorce Options?

Updated on December 12, 2008
J.L. asks from Streamwood, IL
23 answers

My husband and I have been planning our divorce for about a year, and just cannot come up with much money to afford an attorney. It's a very friendly situation with very little property/assest to divide, and we have agreed on custody, visitation and child support already. Do you know of any alternatives to get this filed? I would like to know that I have someone to ask questions to, etc., rather than go the online divorce route. We really cannot spend more than $1,000 though. Any contact names or advice is greatly appreciated, as my head is spinning with "what to do"!

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D.N.

answers from Chicago on

I can recommend a good family law attorney in Tinley Park ###-###-####. He charges $1,500.00 for an uncontested divorce - which includes all expenses including filing fees (he only practices in Cook and Will County.)

K.P.

answers from Decatur on

I would highly recommend Land of Lincoln. They helped me with my divorce when I was in the middle of lawschool and very broke. I did not have to pay the attorney anything, and I was happy with the result.

Best of luck to you

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M.G.

answers from Chicago on

Are you getting at least 20% of his net income (minimum in Illinois for one child), as well as half of child care expenses, uninsured medical and/or tuition? If you didn't agree to receive at least that, you need to get some legal help... Sounds like a joint custody case and hopefully you have a clear visitation plan until yur child is 18. Feel free to write me if you have further questions. I do have lawyers to recommend... Lilac Tree (online women's divorce resource) might have something helpful. Also, if you're low-income, you could qualify for free legal help.

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

I am trying to remember my family law class. I received a paralegal certificate but am not working in family law. But I think if you call the courthouse (are you in DuPage county?) they could direct you where to download some papers to file on your own. There is some very simple documentation in these types of divorces. I don't have numbers on me, but the State of IL website might give you numbers. Sorry to hear you are getting divorced, and I hope it stays peaceful.

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D.C.

answers from Chicago on

J.,

The first question is wherer do you live? If it is in IL you could try and find a lawyer who will represent the both of you in an Uncontested Divorce. This person would write up the Martial Settlement Agreement, the Custody Agreement and appear in court for the Prove Up. Try to negotiate the price, based on the fact that it is harmonious and you all ready know how you want the assets divided and what the custody agreement will be. Realize that child support is statutorily defined (at least in Illinois) Let them know that you both have come to all the terms, but realize that if something comes up and one or both of you contest something that they may want to charge you more.

Also depending on where you live there may be somet ime of aid office with Lawyers who work with those who don't make much money. In many counties in Illinois (north and central, I believe) there is Prairie Legal Services. Look for something like that. They may be able to help you at a lower rate.

I hope this helps.

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T.O.

answers from Chicago on

my friend Eleanora is a lawyer who can help you with this, her number is ###-###-####.

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N.M.

answers from Chicago on

My husband and I used Vera Mitrovich in New Lenox for counseling. She is a Social worker and divorce mediator. After counseling with her we were able to save our marriage (some of the lucky few). I'm not sure what her fees are, but if things are amicable, the mediator is a cheaper route. Good luck with this process, I understand the difficulty in coming to it.

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S.B.

answers from Chicago on

I want to respond to Paulette for your sake J.. I had written another response because I've just completed a divorce on a budget, but when I went to post it something happened and the information was lost, maybe I was meant to answer this instead.

Yes, you should always make sure divorce is the only option left, and when you know it is, also know that though it may not be easy, whatever the situation that caused you to divorce is gone and for some - like me - that has been worth all the uneasy parts of doing this.

My kids have had a hard time adjusting. I've had to take on a second job to make ends meet. My ex is in their lives but he's still #1 in his own life because some things never change. He does what he has to, and phones in the rest.

I'm a lifelong, devout Christian who took 12 years to make the decision to divorce and by the time it was over, we had been married 26 years. This was not a decision I went into lightly. I waged spiritual battle over it and what it finally came down to is that God wants us to be happy. In my personal situation I was being abused and that was not a life God would want me to have. So I left. With God's blessings? Well you know on that one, only He will be able to tell me. What I do know is that my children are happier, though there have been adjustment issues, there's more laughter in my house, and we're far more relaxed because the walking timebomb is no longer living with us.

Not all marriages can be saved, and those who have not walked a mile in your shoes need to be more sensitive to what can happen in a marriage that makes someone walk away. Only you know if you're doing the right thing by you and your daughter. Don't let those who think they know what's best for you, without living your life, tell you what you should be doing.

I have been greatly hurt by well meaning Christians, much less those who want to spout vitriole. We are commanded to not judge and I would hope anyone else who feels they want to use your question as a sounding board for their personal opinions, will remember the second half of the verse in Matthew 7 that states "judge not or you will be judged" - that part that says "and the measure of your judgement will be used against you." As harshly as we judge another on this earth, will we be judged.

I do wish you well J. and I hope this works out the way you need it to.

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R.R.

answers from Chicago on

I found a lawyer for my divorce on legalmatch.com. You type a description of your circumstance and your price range. Lawyers in your area bid for your business. I spent $1500, not too bad for Dupage County.

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B.A.

answers from Chicago on

Due to the economy, you may want to call around to some area attorneys. I mean older ones, really older ones. Since it seems you have everything all settled and just need someone to type it up, file it so a judge can say okey doky. Alot of the older attorneys are looking for easy going ways to make money. They will tell you they have to "represent one of you", but as long as you both agree and don't pull any last minute stunts(that is what all attorney's fear and why most don't do this). Check particularly Dekalb County. You would need to show up the the county where you file to complete your divorce.

Good luck. Make sure the attorneys you contact know this is already decided and a quick easy delivery on money.

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R.H.

answers from Chicago on

My ex and I actually did a disallusion which may be cheaper for you - good option when there aren't a lot of assets and you agree on how everything will be split up. Still each need a lawyer though. I agree that you need to make sure that his name is off of everything as my ex still had a credit card with my name on it and it caused me problems as far as credit

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P.D.

answers from Chicago on

I want to pose a question,who are you thinking will benefit from this tearing apart of your family,you your husband,certainly NOT your daughter??? Divorce is not the end to your troubles but the beginning of a whole different set of trouble.Please,please don't think this will solve all what you are going through IT WILL NOT.Whatever you are "feeling" right now is not fact.Please contact someone who has alerady been through divorce and ask them to HONESTLY relate to you how "wonderful" their life has been,are they truly happy that their children are being tossed back and forth between houses for visitaions,possibly unable to sleep in a strange new surrounding,forced to deal with an adult who is not Mommie or Daddy. Divorce tears EVERYONE apart it does not amke situations better,will have an imapct for future generations,not just you and your spouse,if necessary take time apart to think,speak with wise,godly people who can walk beside you to show you that the grass really isn't greener on the other side of the fence,but that others have worked to maintain the quality of their lawn,and marriage and family.I love you doesn't mean "happily ever after"..Happiness depend on what is happening,things change so "happiness" is a fleeting illusion that can't really be grasped.Peace,joy,contentment are what this time of the year is all about.The peace that can only be found in the person of Jesus.Please STOP and consider what you are about to undertake,call Christ Community Church ###-###-#### ask for Sam Gilliberto,he leads a class on "Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce",listen to what he has already experienced,ask to speak to Mike Hurn who will also tell you of his experience with divorce and how it impacted his childern.Divorce is not the answer,I will include you in the prayers offered for those who are also in difficult situations,please,please seek help not an attorney,
I pray GOD's hand on you to direct to to making wise decisions,
P.

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L.S.

answers from Chicago on

Try the legal aid office you can look the up on the net.

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K.J.

answers from Chicago on

My ex and I completed our divorce ourselves. I know you may have questions so an attorney may be able to help you but keep in mind, the attorney will only represent one of you. A good attorney will need to ultimately choose a person to represent.

To handle our divorce, we bought a book on it and downloaded our paperwork from the county. We tallied up all our valuables that were purchased or received that would be worth over $100 (I think that is the minimum), bank accounts, 401Ks, and then bought the other out of the discrepency. I bought him out of the house (do not keep your ex's name on anything from a loan, lease, or account). Be prepared though to have EVERYTHING in writing. My ex and I were on good terms until the divorce was final and then it became very unfriendly. Good luck.

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L.A.

answers from Chicago on

I filed for divorce on my own about 10 years ago from my first husband. Anyone can file, but the papers have to be in the appropriate format. We didn't have property or kids so it wasn't very complicated but it was kind of tough to stand in front of the judge. She mocked me in front of the entire courtroom, but I held my ground and got my divorce at no cost except the filing fee. The clerk of the court helped me a lot. He gave me a "model" for how the divorce document should appear and I just drew it up. If it is a straightforward divorce, there is no reason you can't try to draw it up yourself. If the clerk doesn't accept your document, you might consider using an online service to help with the paperwork, or you can look into divorce mediation which is supposed to be cheaper because you only use one person for the both of you. Best wishes and I'm sorry you are going through this. Divorce is tough.

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C.L.

answers from Chicago on

I believe you can walk straight to the courthouse in your county and file the paperwork yourself.

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T.C.

answers from Bloomington on

When my ex-husband and I got divorced in April of '03, we purchased all the necessary forms online and did everything ourselves. Like you, ours was a very amiable divorce, but we didn't have any children, so it was also less complicated. I believe at the time the forms cost us $100 or so. We never involved lawyers, but maybe if you complete the forms and take them to a lawyer to review it would still be under the $1000 budget. Good luck with this and with your new lives!

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P.F.

answers from Chicago on

I have two attorneys that I use. One is a specialist in divorce and I can talk to him tomorrow about this for you.

The other is a general lawyer but an independent one. He does much of my work at a very reasonable rate.

Email me if you want either or both of their names. They can both give you an idea of how much it will cost before beginning work.

P.
[email protected]____.com

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K.B.

answers from Austin on

You can file for an uncontested divorce yourself. I used a legal documentation service to prepare the proper paperwork and it cost around $300. You submit the paperwork, then you just have to appear before the judge and answer a few questions and it's done. No lawyers! You do not need to involve lawyers if you don't want to! I used "we the people", but it appears they no longer have offices in Illinois, too bad. There may be something else out there like this with offices in Illinois. My divorce was amiable and simple, but no kids. My husband went the other route with his ex and 10 years later they are still paying thousands of dollars on attorneys and go to court every year or 2 over stupid stuff. As soon as you hire a lawyer, expect to pay them A LOT of money. It is a waste if you can work it out yourselves. If you can't, hire a mediator to help you come to an agreement. Like someone else said, get everything in writing though. Everything you can think of - childcare expenses, medical expenses, timeframes for reimbursements, dates things are due, etc. If you write in any amounts into the divorce decree - like say "husband must pay $200 month in insurance premiums", you can't change the amount without a court order, so be careful how things are written. Also - visitation schedules wrt to holidays and birthdays. College expenses is another thing you should think about too. You could always see an attorney to ask questions and then file the paperwork yourself too - but they may try to talk you into getting your own attorney. Good luck!

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J.L.

answers from Chicago on

The less expensive route if you would like to have some legal guidance (i.e., you don't want to do it yourself like the others have suggested which is of course the least expensive way and they have given you info on how to get started) is to look for a divorce mediator. Do a google search and you will see that these are lawyers who mediate your divorce and take care of the paperwork and filings. Mediation only works for amicable situations, but it costs much less than a normal divorce and works best where you have most of the issues sorted out before you walk in the door.

Good luck.

Otherwise, most attorneys have a flat fee rate of about $1500 or $2000 if you walk in the door with everything already decided and ready to be written up.

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A.G.

answers from Chicago on

Go to the county courthouse wherever you were married and request forms to file a "pro bono divorce". You can be divorced by doing it yourself in as short as 3 months and for less than $300. I did it at the DuPage county courthouse and as long as the other party does not contest the divorce, it will be granted at the first hearing. Good luck!

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G.H.

answers from Chicago on

My niece recently divorced online for $250. You're best doing it that way

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M.L.

answers from Chicago on

Hello:

My name is M. Lowe Webb. I am an attorney with my own law office, McCain, Webb & Alexander, P.C. (www.mwalawgroup.com). I practice family law. I know that this is probably a difficult time for you and your family. I am willing to work out an arrangement with you and your husband to faciliate your divorce. Since it is uncontested, our office can either negotiate a flat rate within your price range or we will prepare the court documents to faciliate the divorce and you represent yourself pro se. If you are interested, please call me at ###-###-#### to set up a consultation. I can also be reached via email at [email protected]____.com.

I am married with a eight month old son.

take care,
M.

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