If you are thinking about getting a divorce without a lawyer, the first question you need answered is, if you can, and the second is, if you should. Although the courts in most states are open to the public, each state has its own rules for filing for divorce. Once you determine what the rules are in your state, you should know that getting a divorce without a lawyer could be risky.
Contested or Uncontested
Divorces are either contested or uncontested. If you have complex issues regarding your divorce, such as high financial stakes, you will need an attorney to handle litigation. An uncontested divorce is one where you and your spouse can reach an agreement without going to trial. Uncontested divorces will cost you less money. Even if you can’t come to an agreement, you can try using a mediator instead of an attorney, according to the Legal Zoom website.
If you don’t want to use a lawyer, you can find an experienced mediator who is accredited by the Association for Conflict Resolution or from a statewide non-profit professional organization, recommends the “Divorce Magazine” website. The mediator will educate you and your spouse and will help guide you so that you consider all the facts, including how you will co-parent your children. When you use a mediator, the focus is on trying to reach a goal by working together with informed and even creative decisions.
Reasons to Forego a Lawyer
Divorce attorneys can be expensive and can turn what could have been an amicable split into a full-out war, according to the “Divorce Magazine” website. The nature of litigation pits you and your spouse against each other as adversaries. You could lose control when you hire a divorce attorney, because he will tend to focus on your legal rights instead of what your particular criteria may be.
If you intend to do your divorce yourself, without hiring a lawyer, you would use special divorce forms, called “per se” divorce forms. You can get them free or pay for them. Free divorce forms are available online, but they typically will not give you any assistance, according to the Deal With Divorce website. You would simply download the forms, print them out and fill them in. You pay for the forms when you buy a divorce kit. The kit will come with forms with non-legal instructions to help you. You can get higher-end online forms that you pay for. These differ from the free online forms in that you can fill them in, save them and edit them on your computer. These higher-end forms often come with instructions. You can also get free divorce forms from your courthouse by visiting your courthouse in person or by downloading the forms from your state’s court website.
In most states, you will need to meet four legal requirements to file a divorce, according to the Legal Zoom website. You will need to have lived in the state and county for a specified time. You will have to go through a mandatory waiting period from the filing to the finalization of the divorce, at which time both parties are free to remarry. You will need legal grounds, such as irreconcilable differences or separation. And, you must file with the appropriate court.
- alone woman image by Igors Leonovs from Fotolia.com