Going through a divorce is one of the most difficult things a person can go through.
It’s emotionally draining for both parties, their friends and family members, and it’s especially difficult on children.
The divorce process takes months to complete. Oftentimes, though, it can take longer if the divorce is contested or if the spouses can’t agree on the division of property and assets, alimony, child support, or custody of the children.
And then there’s the cost.
Divorce is not cheap.
Spouses who weren’t the main breadwinner could have a difficult time paying for legal fees.
Thankfully, there are legal aid services for divorce.
What Is a Contested Divorce and How Does It Impact the Divorce Process?
One of the main reasons people need legal aid is for contested divorce. Services for a contested divorce are provided for people who can’t afford a long, drawn out divorce process.
A contested divorce is one in which one of the spouses disputes a certain aspect of the divorce.
In order to work through these issues, the spouses will have to go through a number of steps before their divorce can be finalized.
These steps include:
- Divorce discovery, a process in which the attorney gathers information from each spouse and witnesses. These can include getting written statements and depositions.
- Pre-trial hearings
- Attorney settlement negotiations
- A trial (if the settlement negotiations fail)
- An appeal if you dispute the decision of the court.
Throughout this process, the attorney will serve as a support system and advocate for their clients legal rights. Their goal is to make sure their client’s rights are protected at all times.
Divorces that aren’t contested can be finalized within a relatively short period of time. Those that are contested, though, can take months or even years.
The divorce lawyer will not only work to protect your rights – they’ll do their best to expedite the process if at all possible. This will prevent a lot of stress and loss of money.
But for many – especially women – hiring a lawyer in the first place is financially difficult. Thankfully, they can get legal aid for divorce. And often, they can get free legal aid for divorce.
Legal Aid Services for Divorce: Who Can Help You Through Your Divorce?
If you’re facing a long divorce process or your spouse is contesting the divorce, you need legal assistance. Divorce is complex anyway, but even more so in these circumstances.
To get affordable assistance, look to the following sources for low-cost or free legal aid for divorce.
1. Self-Help Services
In many states, the courts provide legal assistance to people who can’t afford a lawyer. These services include providing information about the divorce and trial process so the person can prepare themselves and take the necessary steps to protect themselves.
2. Legal Aid Divorce Agencies
Throughout the U.S., there are numerous non-profit legal aid agencies that help the lower-income population.
Before you can get assistance from these agencies, though, you need to qualify – so be prepared to provide proof of income.
3. Governmental Agencies
In addition to private agencies, there are also several governmental agencies that can provide legal help in certain situations.
These agencies can provide low-cost or free legal aid for divorce and child support concerns. For example, these agencies can help parents collect delinquent child support payments if that becomes an issue for you.
4. Lawyer Referral Services
Lawyer referral services help people find the right attorney for their needs and budget. These groups can assist you even if you don’t financially qualify for free legal services. They can help you find legal assistance that would still be considered affordable by many standards.
For instance, many of these services keep a list of divorce attorneys who are willing to meet with you once for a small fee. During this consultation, they can answer your questions and help you get your ducks in a row when it comes to preparing for negotiations or a trial.
Divorce Lawyers and Legal Aid: Why Some Attorneys Want to Help
There are many attorneys throughout the U.S. who are willing to do pro bono work for people who are financially strapped.
In fact, many recognize what a hardship divorce is, particularly for women who didn’t work while they were married. A significant number of women still stay home to take care of their children. This is a full-time job. If they are able to work during this time, in many cases its part-time work.
Even if they didn’t have children, quite a few women still remain financially dependent on their husbands. These women simply don’t have the funds available to them to pay for legal fees.
Add to that the fact that any money in joint accounts will likely be split up, property and assets lost, and debts redistributed – the financial cost of divorce quickly adds up.
Legal aid groups can help you find low-cost or even pro bono attorneys through local or state bar associations.
Or you can do some research online as some websites help connect people with lawyers in their area. And some attorneys state on their websites whether they do any pro bono work or low-cost consultations.
Consider Legal Aid for Contested Divorce – Services That Will Save You Some Money
The decision to end a marriage is not an easy one. Multiple lives will be affected by the decision. Many people want to go through the process as quickly as possible – both to save time and money, but also to reduce the stress and pain that goes along with it.
Unfortunately, things don’t always go as smoothly as people would like. And when that happens, the legal fees can mount.
If you find yourself in need of legal aid from divorce lawyers – there are plenty of resources to assist you.
Non-profit agencies, government programs, and attorneys willing to do low-cost or pro bono work are available.
With help from these resources, you may be able to get an affordable divorce. And that will provide you with some peace of mind.