How do I get divorced for free?
If you cannot afford an attorney for your divorce case, there are options. There are laws that allows an indigent to get a divorce at no or low cost.
When you file a suit for divorce in the proper court, you need to pay your filing and court fees. These fees depend on the county and state where you file. In Harris county, effective January 1, 2019, the court cost for divorce with no children is $273; divorce with children costs $300. These amounts do not include the cost of serving, that is notifying the other party of your suit. Also, it excludes the cost of a certified copy of your divorce decree or judgment. What about legal fees – the hourly fee of hiring an attorney to handle your case if it is complex? Legal fees can range from $1500 for uncontested divorce to $15,000+ for highly contested divorce with children and properties.
If you earn below the poverty guideline for the State of Texas, then you may qualify for a waiver of your court fees.
Texas Poverty Guideline – First Step to a Free Divorce
U.S. FEDERAL POVERTY GUIDELINES USED TO DETERMINE FINANCIAL ELIGIBILITY FOR CERTAIN FEDERAL PROGRAMS
Qualification of Waiver – Second Step to a Free Divorce
The judge can waive your fees if you can prove one of the following:
- Your income is below the Texas Poverty Guideline (see above). You do not have enough money to pay for your family basic needs and the court fees.
- You receive government benefits because you are poor (see above). Examples are: food stamps, Medicaid, TANF, or SSI.
- A volunteer lawyer represents you for free through a legal aid provider. This is also known as pro-bono work.
- Your case was accepted by a legal aid provider, but it was unable to find a lawyer for your case.
Statement of Inability to Afford Court Costs – Third Step to a Free Divorce
A Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs (“Statement“) must be filed in court before other court documents. You may obtain a form from a legal aid provider or Court. The Statement tells the clerk and judge about your income after taxes, household expenses, and how many people depend on you.
Attach proof (such as a copy of an eligibility form or check) to your Statement. Once you submit your statement, you may file your petition or Answer.
Lastly, keep in mind that your Statement may be contested. If the clerk contests it, you will be notified of a hearing regarding your Statement.
You can continue with your case – despite the clerk’s contest. If you lose at a contest hearing, the judge may award court fees, filing fees, and the service fees against you.
We are available. (832) 529-1255. Aminu Law: Legal Solutions for Modern Family.