This is an all-to-common question, and although I have answered it several times in my “Ask a Lawyer” section, I thought I would answer it again here.
The answer to this question depends, unfortunately, on the financial circumstances of the person asking it. If you have a good job, the money issue may not be such a big deal. However, if you are not working and you don’t have any relatives or friends that can help you out, then you are going to have a tougher time.
The first thing you should do is stop, breath, and take stock of where you are, how you are feeling and consider your options. If you have made it to this website, then you are probably researching divorce lawyers, which is a good thing – you will in all likelihood need a good lawyer to help you through this.
Second, I would ask you to think about how you want to resolve this dispute. If you choose to hire a lawyer to help you with a custody battle, then you are looking at spending upwards of $15,000-20,000 to see this through trial. If you don’t have that kind of cash, then you should look at other options.
At the Hart Law Firm, we offer several other non-court options to help you resolve your case. In fact, with the exception of just a couple of open litigation files, we have moved our practice away from the court system and into our conference rooms to resolve our client’s disputes. The options we offer include:
- Divorce Consulting – If you and your spouse are able to talk through your differences and reach a resolution, we can assist you in drafting the legal documents necessary to settle your dispute.
- Mediation – If you and your spouse can’t reach an agreement by yourselves about how you want to resolve your case, than we can mediate the dispute for you in our offices. Once an agreement is reached, it can be filed with the court and made into a court order.
- Collaborative Divorce – If your case is more complicated and requires more time, or you want your own attorney to guide you through the process, than we can assist by representing you in a collaborative divorce.
- File-It-Yourself – If you are really on a budget, and you need to get to court, but want to handle the case yourself, then we share office space with Carolina Dispute Settlement Services, who offers a low-cost File-it-Yourself clinic every Thursday. Fees vary depending on what you need done and your income level. If you can’t make it on a Thursday, then we can also assist you in drafting the legal documents you require to get your case moving.
- Divorce Assessment – If you are just beginning to consider your legal options, but don’t yet know what to do, than our Divorce Assessment may be for you.
- Separating Together Orientation – If you are willing to come in and meet with us, and you want to bring your spouse with you to discuss settlement options only (nothing substantive), than we can conduct a 1/2 our orientation that goes through all of the above options with you for a reduced cost.
Bottom line – there are a lot of options available to you that don’t involve costly litigation.