How to File for Divorce With No Money

By Tom Streissguth

If you would like a divorce but have very limited financial means, you may be able to file the necessary papers without paying the court fees. Most civil courts have provisions that allow the indigent to carry out some basic legal procedures. Every jurisdiction has its own guidelines for waiving fees. Carefully follow the instructions provided by your local court clerk for this process.

Step 1

Obtain the necessary petition that opens a divorce case by going down to your local courthouse and requesting a blank form. Most courts also have online forms that you can download, fill in and then print out. In addition, ask for or print out a fee waiver petition. You must meet your state's residency requirements, which do not allow you to file for divorce unless you or your spouse have lived within the state or the county in which you file for a minimum period of time.

Step 2

Complete the divorce petition, giving the required information. This will include your name and address, the name and address of your spouse, any minor children of the marriage (natural or adopted) and the grounds for the divorce -- many states allow for "irreconcilable differences," meaning you do not have to allege or prove specific grounds for the action.

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Step 3

Fill in the fee-waiver petition, which will claim that you do not have the resources to pay the filing fee for the divorce petition. You must also fill out a form listing your current income, if any, as well as your resources, including savings, investments, property and any cash balances in checking accounts. Make copies of your paychecks, bank statements, lease, utility bills and other statements proving your financial statement. You will have to sign the petition and an affidavit form in front of a notary. The court clerk may also notarize your paperwork, provided you have valid photo identification.

Step 4

Attach the completed and signed fee waiver petition to the divorce petition and submit these forms to the court clerk, who will date-stamp the forms and enter them into the public record. The clerk will either have the forms reviewed by a member of the court staff or schedule a hearing before a judge on the fee-waiver petition. If the fee-waiver petition is approved, you will also have to draw up a marital settlement agreement with your spouse and prepare for a hearing on the settlement. Some states provide for simplified divorce in which the paperwork can be completed and the divorce finalized in a very short time; sometimes less than a day.

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How to File for Divorce for Free in Florida
 

References

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How Much Does it Cost to File Divorce Papers?

Fees and other costs are inevitably part of divorce. The fees vary by each state and county court; in addition, legal fees charged by attorneys for assistance with the filing vary widely. If the divorce is contested, or if you have to negotiate terms, the time and money it takes to complete the process will increase.

How to File for Divorce Online With a State Fee Waiver in California

Divorce can be stressful and expensive. Fortunately, you may be eligible for a fee waiver for filing fees and other costs related to filing for divorce in California. You may qualify for a fee waiver in three ways: if you are receiving public benefits such as Medi-Cal, Food Stamps (CalFresh), Cal-Works, General Assistance, SSI, SSP, Tribal TANF, IHHS or CAPI; if your household income before taxes is less than the amount listed on Form FW-011 in Item 5b; or if the court determines that you do not have adequate income to pay for your basic household needs and court costs.

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An uncontested divorce is one is which both partners agree on all of the aspects of the divorce, such as the grounds for divorce, settlement arrangements and custody agreements. You may be able to complete an uncontested divorce without an attorney to save on legal fees. To begin an uncontested divorce, one partner needs to fill out the Petition of Divorce and other forms. The first step is to get free copies of these forms.

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