One’s first thought of the cheapest way to get divorced in Pennsylvania is typically to do it oneself, without paying a lawyer. For a simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce, I charge a total of $219.00. The question becomes “How much will I need to do it myself?” First, find out what your local court will charge you just to file the action. Each of our counties charge different amounts, some as high as $400.00; therefore, it only begins to make sense to do it yourself if your court charges less than my $219.00 total charge. But that only makes sense if there is nothing else on which you need to spend money.
What else could there be? You will need the correct documents for your county. Some counties are very specific as to what documents will be accepted. I know at least one that requires that the documents be purchased from a local legal stationery store. You may be able to download them and print them or you can buy them online from sites that offer Do-It-Yourself (DIY) kits. The problem with both of those choices is the site making them available is never run by an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney. It is a fact that such sites are run by non-lawyers from outside Pennsylvania who find forms online and re-sell them with some instructions based upon STATE rules of procedure. One problem is that such forms and instructions fail to include COUNTY rules of procedure…and we have 67 different sets of county rules. I have seen such “kits” sold for $99.00 to $250.00. Remember that, on top of what you would be paying for incomplete documents and instructions, you still have to come up with your local court filing fee.
Then you have to get the documents and fee to your court. Taking them there will involve some time and travel, perhaps even time off work, but let’s say you are permitted to mail them (divorce documents may NOT be filed by any electronic means such as email or FAX) and an issue arises. What’s next? You would have to figure that out. The court clerks are not permitted to tell you as that would be giving you legal advice. They are strictly forbidden from doing that, and with good reason: They are not lawyers. So, let’s say you take the following steps and send them to the court as well. If you make an error on any step, the court will inform you, perhaps by mail, which might take weeks. You would be told only that an error was made, not what it was, and it will not be able to be corrected by mail. That means a trip to the courthouse; however, you really shouldn’t bother as, if you go there, the clerks will not be allowed to explain the mistakes and will likely point to the sign on the wall that reads, “WE ARE NOT PERMITTED BY LAW TO GIVE YOU ANY LEGAL ADVICE”.
At that point, you are out what you spent on the filing fee, out what you spent on the documents, and out what your time and travel cost you. Your next thought might be “A lawyer surely wouldn’t charge me much to tell me how to fix my mistakes.” You call around and find that no lawyer will take on your situation without going to the courthouse to see exactly what was done and what is needed to fix it and that will take two or three hours of the lawyer’s time…probably an amount more than you have already invested.
I have been handling, on a statewide basis since 1980, thousands of low-cost, simple, uncontested, no-fault divorces for around $200.00 TOTAL. When I began, the charge was $175.00. It is now $219.00 and all but $10.00 of that increase has been increased court fees over the decades. That’s right…I have increased my legal fee by only $10.00 since 1980.
Taking into account all of the foregoing information, I think it’s clear that I can provide you with the cheapest way to get a Pennsylvania divorce. You will not have to go any further than your mailbox. You will not have to worry about mistakes in the documents or how or when they should be signed (or by whom) and filed as I will be taking care of all of that for you. And you can pay me step by step, taking as much time between steps as you like. All you will need to do is read and follow simple instructions that my tens of thousands of other clients – including about four thousand repeat clients – have read and followed since 1980.