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Helpful Resources and Articles

The United States has the sixth highest divorce rate, with 40% to 50% of married couples filing for divorce. Or, to put it another way, in the average time it takes a couple to recite their vows, two minutes, three couples have divorced. Over the last decade, the average divorce rate has gone down across the country with a few notable exceptions, like Illinois and Mississippi, which have seen an increase in filings. If you are considering divorce, have just received divorce papers, or need to hire a divorce attorney, you're in the right place.

I Think I Need a Lawyer

Not all divorces require a lawyer, but if you think you might need a lawyer, we've put together these resources to help you decide.

Divorce Laws by State

Divorce laws vary from state to state. From how to file for divorce to separation requirements, we've compiled divorce laws by state to help you decide when and how to file for divorce.

Divorce Statistics and Other Useful Information

As Western societies have seen an increase in women’s financial independence alongside evolving cultural norms, divorce has gone from taboo to acceptable, with almost 45% of marriages ending in divorce in the U.S. Whether you're interested in more information about divorce in the United States or wondering how to go about leaving an abusive partner, our experts have compiled these resources to help.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the basic steps to filing for divorce?

    The steps required to file for divorce depend heavily on whether the divorce is contested, if there are minor children or property issues at stake, and if there are disagreements over child support or alimony. The process may also differ from state to state, but generally parties must:

    • File the divorce petition
    • Hire a process server to give the other party divorce papers/respond to the original petitioner's filing
    • Request temporary orders covering issues such as custody/visitation, support, and exclusive property use
    • Make financial disclosures
    • Request discovery from your spouse
    • Propose and/or consider a possible settlement
    • Go to trial if necessary
    • Receive a signed judgment from the court indicating the divorce is final
    • Address post-divorce tasks such as transferring property titles and closing joint bank accounts
  • How much does it cost to get a divorce?

    The cost of a divorce differs dramatically based on a litany of criteria, such as whether the divorce is contested, where the divorce petition is filed, and whether the divorce requires a professional intermediary or other legal expert. A simple, low-frills DIY divorce can be as little as a few hundred dollars. Add in mediation and the cost may jump to the mid-four figures and can easily reach $7,000 or more. Hire a lawyer and you may pay anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000+ if there are major custodial issue or complex financial concerns.

  • How much does a divorce lawyer cost?

    Most divorce lawyers charge by the hour and billing can vary dramatically. Some attorneys in more affordable markets and/or with less experience may charge as little as $75/hour. More experienced attorney or those who have large staffs, specialize in complex cases, or hold relevant certifications may charge premium rates in excess of $400/hour. Then there are the amount of hours invested; simple cases may be over in a matter of weeks while hotly contested divorces can drag on for years leading to lawyer's fees in the tens of thousands.

  • How to choose a divorce lawyer/what to look for?

    Divorce lawyers are not one-size-fits-all. It's important to find a lawyer whose skill set, experience, and resources align with the demands of each specific situation. For instance, some attorneys will push mediation while others are naturals in the courtroom.

    • Know your budget
    • Limit your search to lawyers experienced in family law
    • Zero in on lawyers or firms that can handle the complexities of divorce, especially any issues that may be specific to the current case
    • Read reviews and ask friends for recommendations, but remember that their situations and needs may not be the same
    • Conduct interviews to see who feels trustworthy and can spell out an approach that feels appropriate
    • Try to ignore ad campaigns and office décor and instead consider track record and skills
  • What is an uncontested divorce?

    An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree on the major issues, such as custody of any minor children, child support, alimony, and how to divide any assets and/or debt. While uncontested divorces still require a judge to approve the terms of the divorcing couple's signed agreement, these relatively simple splits tend to move faster, cost less money, and are easier to execute without the help of a divorce lawyer. A divorce filing that goes unanswered by the non-petitioning party may also be considered uncontested.

  • Can you file for divorce without a lawyer?

    It's possible to file for divorce without a lawyer, especially if the divorce is uncontested. Many states offer free divorce forms either online or at legal self-help centers located in or near family court. There are often dispute resolution resources available as well; mediation services can help iron out disputes over custody or financial support without involving lawyers. Still, a free consultation with a divorce lawyer can offer valuable insight, and contentious divorces, whether they go to trial or not, all but require legal representation.

  • How long does it take to get a divorce?

    The length of a divorce is contingent on four things: each state's mandatory waiting period, whether the divorce is uncontested or contested, how quickly both sides can come to an agreement, and how quickly a judge is able to hear or review the case and sign off. The best-case scenario is an uncontested divorce in a state with a short waiting period which could see a divorce finalized in a matter of weeks. For divorces with highly combative parties, long discovery periods, and other complications, a decision could take months or even years.

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