Can You File for Divorce Without a Lawyer?
For various reasons, many people would like to manage their divorce without a lawyer. The question is, is it possible? Can you file for divorce without a lawyer?
The answer is, yes, you can. There is no need to hire a lawyer to file for divorce. What’s more, the process of filing for divorce is simpler than most people imagine.
At the heart of the divorce process is a package of divorce forms to be completed and then filed with your County Court. Filing these forms officially sets the divorce in motion and provides the Family Law court with the information needed to process and finalize your divorce.
There is no legal requirement or need for the person who completes these divorce forms to be a divorce lawyer. They can be completed and filed by the person(s) seeking a divorce, without a lawyer. All the court is concerned with is that all the required forms are filed and have been completed correctly.
The exact divorce forms to be completed will vary from person to person, depending for instance on whether or not you have children. This is where divorcing without a lawyer has a drawback – you will need to identify and complete the correct divorce forms yourself. However, with a little online research and a few tips to make sure you get the right divorce forms this is not at all difficult.
You can easily get divorce forms online for every State. Search a little more and you can usually find them bundled with guidance on which forms apply in your case, full instructions and useful tips to help you ensure all is in order before you file.
There is no need to be a rocket scientist either – completing the forms simply requires patience and care, not a high IQ. Most divorce forms are relatively straightforward and written in plain English.
Once all the relevant divorce forms are completed you may need to sign them in front of a Notary Public (see your Yellow Pages) before you can go ahead and actually file for divorce.
“Filing for divorce” simply involves submitting your completed and notarized divorce forms to the Clerk of the District Court in your county. Again, this is something you can do without a lawyer. You will be charged a filing fee (usually a few hundred dollars, which a lawyer would have to pay too) and given a case number. Your divorce is now “in the system.”
The final step will be to notify your spouse that you have filed a Petition for Divorce. Of course many people who opt to divorce without a lawyer do so with the knowledge of their spouse. All the same, your spouse must be “officially” informed of your Petition for Divorce. For instance, by certified mail, service (delivery) by the Sheriff’s Office, or by your spouse filing a notarized receipt form with the Clerk’s Office.
If your spouse wishes to respond to your Petition, there are various forms that they can complete and file with the Clerk of Courts, usually referred to as “Response Forms.” These provide information from your spouse’s point of view regarding any details or arrangements in your Petition that they may disagree with or feel are incorrect.
Obviously it is a great advantage if you and your spouse have agreed in advance to (a) divorce without a lawyer and (b) basic terms that you are both happy with, to avoid unexpected responses or disagreements at this stage. If there is any chance that you and your spouse can work together, make the most of it.
Now that you know that you can divorce without a lawyer, the next question is should you? Is it a good idea in view of your particular circumstances?
Today, the answer to Do I need a divorce lawyer? is “No” for many people with all sorts of different circumstances.
Despite much advice to the contrary, you can file for divorce without a lawyer even if you have children and even if you have areas of disagreement or concern. With the increasing trend towards do-it-yourself divorces, many law firms and self-help divorce clinics are now set up to help you do just that.
The bottom line is, there are several advantages of divorcing without a lawyer – advantages for both of you – and very few reasons not to give this option serious consideration.
Copyright 2009 Caroline Mackenzie
exclusively for DealWithDivorce.com
Filed under: Do It Yourself Divorce