Regardless of what State or County you live in, there are free resources available to assist you obtaining an uncontested Divorce. If you are in the market for free, start by checking with your county Courthouse or do a web search for free forms for your state. Several of the larger counties in Texas have a law library that has free forms and guidance so you can do your own divorce from start to finish. They can help you with the paperwork and help you file a pauper’s oath to request a waiver of the filing fee if you fall near or below the poverty line. This is a wonderful service that many people utilize to obtain a divorce. If you live in Texas, there is also a website called texaslawhelp.org that has useful forms and guidance for divorce as well as a large number of other areas of law that the average person may run into. All of their forms and advice is free, as well.
However, many people want additional advice or assistance, or wish to have their pleadings done professionally for any number of reasons. Recently, several lawyers across the country have begun offering “a la carte” pricing in a variety of legal services, including divorce. Now, rather than paying a divorce lawyer for every minute they spend doing anything on your divorce, you can choose to utilize an attorney who offers “a la carte” pricing, where you will pay a fixed fee based on the services you choose to utilize. The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services enthusiastically supports these “unbundled” legal services and provides a wonderful resource for legal professionals call “The Pro Se/Unbundling Resource Center”. With “a la carte” or “unbundled” divorce services, you just pay for the work you need help with. So long as the divorce is uncontested, you and your spouse can get a single attorney. For example, if you have an agreement, you can pay one attorney for document generation only, or document generation plus having the lawyer or firm handle the filing of the Petition, or even ask the attorney to appear at the uncontested docket with you to enter the final decree. This fee structure allows you the freedom to save as much money as you can by doing much of the work yourself.
If the divorce is contested, a lawyer can only represent one party, but you may still wish to use as your attorney one who offers “a la carte” pricing. It will depend on the complexity of issues that are contested and how comfortable you feel in your ability to handle some parts of the contested divorce process. It is possible for someone to pay for assistance in preparing their case and even pay for the attorney to represent them at mediation and/or in Court. Again, because contested divorces can be complex, very emotional, and every stage of the process is critical to a satisfactory outcome, think carefully and seek advice from several attorneys prior to choosing any attorney. Be aware, in looking for assistance in family law matters (or any legal matter), there are a number of scammers who offer assistance and hold themselves out at “paralegals” or someone who works for a lawyer. You should always check the credentials of anyone offering “reduced fees for legal services”. In Texas, you can check the credentials of any attorney at the State Bar of Texas website at http://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Find_A_Lawyer&Template=/CustomSource/MemberDirectory/Search_Form_Client_Main.cfm . The crooks will be happy to take your money. Make sure you are getting what you pay for (professional, trustworthy help) but don’t pay for more services than you need.