SIMPLE DIVORCE SUMMARY
By simple divorce I mean one which is not actively contested, one in which the first attempt to serve the defendant is successful, and one in which there is absolutely nothing to resolve except the divorce itself. My legal fee, which must be paid prior to filing, is $150.00. The court costs for a simple no-fault divorce are normally $206.00. This includes a $186.00 filing fee (payable in advance) and $20.00 for two certified copies of the final decree. The $20.00 for decree copies is paid when the court is requested to enter the decree. Accordingly, it costs $336.00 plus certified mail costs to get a simple divorce started. For those of you who aren't ready to file, I also offer a $25.00 consultation. The consultation fee will be credited against the legal fee for filing.
If only God knows where your spouse is, you can still get divorced, but it will cost more. Click here for more information.
Please note that raising economic issues such as alimony or property division will add to the legal fee and to the filing fee.
The action is commenced by filing a divorce complaint with the court. A defendant may be served by several methods including certified mail, or may simply sign an acknowledgment of service.
There are, essentially, three procedures for obtaining an uncontested divorce. Please note that if there are economic claims raised in the divorce action, leave of court must be obtained to process the divorce decree while those claims are still pending.
If both parties want the divorce, they may simply file affidavits consenting to a divorce at any time after ninety days have elapsed from the date that the complaint was served. The party who is requesting the court to enter the decree (usually the plaintiff) must then give twenty days' notice to the other party; however, this notice can be waived. If further notice is waived, the request for the decree may be filed as soon as both consent forms have been filed.
If the parties have been separated for two years or more, the procedure is to serve the defendant with a divorce complaint and an affidavit setting forth the fact of the two year separation and stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If the defendant does not file an answer disputing the facts set forth in the affidavit, a followup notice is sent twenty days after service of the affidavit, giving the defendant a last chance to object to the divorce. If another twenty days go by without a peep out of the defendant, the divorce will be granted upon the request of the plaintiff. It is important to remember that a divorce based on a two-year separation is not automatic and not always as quick as the plaintiff would like it to be.
In either type of no-fault divorce, it is usually a week or two from the time the court is requested to sign the decree to the time the decree is actually signed. No court appearance is necessary.
Where the parties have not been separated for two years, one party wants the divorce and the other party won't sign a consent form but won't actively contest either, a divorce on fault grounds is a possibility. The most common ground used is indignities. An appearance at a brief court hearing is necessary, and $43.00 additional court costs are charged for that hearing, with decree costs of $20.00 also being paid when the hearing is scheduled. The hearing date will be about six weeks from the date that the court is requested to schedule it. Unless the defendant gets off his or her gluteus maximus and shows up at the hearing or takes other action to oppose the divorce, ten minutes of testimony will be taken and the divorce will usually be granted two to three weeks after the hearing. For those of you who are old enough to remember, this was the civilized way of getting divorced before the no-fault divorce law was passed.
A woman may resume her former name after a divorce has been filed by filing a form with the court. This costs $10.00 and this price includes a certified copy.
For matters that go beyond simple divorce, such as property division, alimony, support, or custody, my fee is $60.00 an hour for out-of-court time. This is over and above the base rate of $150.00. My fees for court appearances are usually charged per appearance rather than per hour; routine support hearings are $250.00. This is expected to be paid in advance.
In cases that involve more than simple divorce, the amount of my legal fee required to be paid in advance may be more than the $150.00 base rate. If you are interested in retaining my services, shoot me an email or give me a call.