How to get a divorce without a lawyer

Getting a divorce can be expensive, but P.E.I.'s Community Legal Information Association has a way of helping people out that won't break the bank.

'We would hear from people saying, "I think I have to stay married forever"'

In 2015, P.E.I.'s Community Legal Information Association sold about 135 kits but last year it was closer to 200. (Mitch Cormier/CBC)

Getting a divorce can be expensive, but P.E.I.'s Community Legal Information Association (CLIA) has a way of helping people out that won't break the bank.

Like so many things in life, divorce is a legal process, and if a lawyer gets involved the cost multiplies.

"We would hear from people saying, 'I think I have to stay married forever and that just doesn't feel right,'" said Kelly Robinson, the program co-ordinator with CLIA.

The association has developed a kit that allows people to do a divorce on their own if the divorce is uncontested. The kit costs $50. There are also legal fees that come to about $270.

The kits have been available for more than a decade, and they have become more popular in recent years. In 2015, the association sold about 135; last year it was closer to 200.

'Can't afford to do it'

"For most people they're not even trying to save money as much as they just cannot afford to do it," said Robinson.

Only uncontested divorces, those where both sides are in agreement on all the issues, such as division of property and custody of children, can be done with the kit.

The kit includes all the forms required and a booklet to walk you through the process. The booklet includes cheat notes for filling out the forms.

'For most people they're not even trying to save money as much as they just cannot afford to do it,' says Kelly Robinson. (Mitch Cormier/CBC)

The kit is helpful for people living on a low income, but for people with low literacy as well it is a challenge. The forms are legal documents, and therefore somewhat complicated. The explanations in the kit can help, but that is as far as the association can go.

Filling out the form is considered legal work, and can therefore only be done by lawyers. So while the association can provide the kit, it cannot help you fill out the forms.

"If you're someone who is struggling with literacy it's going to be very difficult," said Robinson.

You can call the association to purchase a divorce kit, or buy one directly from its website.

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With files from Island Morning