Posted on: 22 May 2017
Getting a divorce is challenging enough, but trying to pursue a legal separation while incarcerated can be even more difficult. Here are two challenges you'll come up against when divorcing your spouse while in jail -- and how to overcome them.
Paying the Filing Fee
Every state requires petitioners to pay a fee when they file for divorce, the amount of which varies depending on the jurisdiction. Unless you have savings, a source of income that doesn't require your presence, or can borrow the money from friends or family members, it may be hard to come up with the money when you can't work because you're stuck in jail.
Luckily, the court system will waive the fee if you can prove you don't have the money or assets to pay it. Being in jail may work in your favor, because the reason you can't work is fairly self-explanatory. However, you may be required to prove you don't have any assets you can use to cover the cost. For instance, if you have money in a 401K account, the court may decline your request because you can withdraw money from the fund, even though you'll be penalized for doing so.
If you have access to the internet, you can download a fee waiver form from the court website of the jurisdiction where you're filing. Otherwise, you may be able to get the form from the prison or jail library, which usually keeps a variety of legal forms on hand for inmate use.
Attending Court Appointments
Depending on the circumstances of your case, it may be necessary for you to personally appear in court to deal with various aspects of the divorce (e.g. custody hearing; division of assets). Since you're in jail, however, you're not exactly free to just leave whenever you want.
Some jails will let you attend in person, but you must qualify for this benefit. For instance, if you were convicted of a relatively minor crime and don't present a flight risk or a danger to society, then the jail may release you for the court appointment, though you'll likely have a police escort. On the other hand, you may be stuck in jail if you were convicted of a serious crime or the jail feels you may try to escape while out.
If you can't get permission to leave for the appointment, an alternative is to see if the court will let you attend via telephone or video conference. Another option is to appoint a friend or family member to make legal decisions for you and stand in your place in court.
For more information about this issue or help filing for divorce, contact an attorney like those at Bineham & Gillen, PLLC.Share