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Getting a Divorce Without a Lawyer: Pros and Cons

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Getting a divorce can be a challenging process. Not only do you have to consider dividing assets, property, and possibly worrying about custody, divorces are also expensive and can be a financial burden. If your finances are limited, you may want to consider getting a divorce without a lawyer.

Can You Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer?

Yes! You can definitely get divorced without a lawyer. Your first step is to make sure you have met the requirements to file for divorce.

Every state has different guidelines for divorce so it will be important for you to check your state’s rules. Your state may have certain requirements for residency, waiting periods before filing, and specific reasons for divorce.

Many lawyers offer a free consultation, so you could also schedule a meeting to go over your case. This way, you can get an idea of how complicated your case might be and whether you should handle your divorce without a lawyer.

How To Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer

It’s a good idea to start your divorce process by gathering material related to your marriage. You’ll want to do research on the types of information you need, but a good place to start is with your finances. Make sure you get statements and other information from all your accounts, including retirement accounts, savings accounts, and stock options.

Also, if you and your spouse have minor children, you’ll need to fill out paperwork for custody and child support. Most states have DIY divorce packets that you can pick up at your local courthouse. You can also go online and search for “family court” in your state to find information related to custody. It will be helpful if you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce. However, if you can’t agree on an issue like custody, you may need to consider mediation.

Another option for handling your divorce without a lawyer is to check if your court offers a divorce clinic. You may also find a divorce clinic at a local law school or a legal organization that offers divorce services.

Lastly, consider using an online divorce service. These companies will fill out your paperwork and file for divorce on your behalf. This is a great option that is less expensive than hiring an attorney.

Pros and Cons of Not Using a Lawyer

Overall, a good way to decide whether to get divorced without a lawyer is to weigh the pros and cons.

Pros

Less Expensive

Using an online divorce service or completing the paperwork yourself will be less expensive than paying a lawyer to handle your case; you’ll only have to pay the court’s mandatory filing fees.

Faster Process

If you and your spouse agree on the conditions of your divorce, the time it takes to file may be a lot faster than if you were to wait for lawyers to go back and forth.

Cons

Inexperience

If you have no experience with divorce, gathering documentation and filling out paperwork may be overwhelming. Not only can it be tough learning how to navigate the court system, representing yourself can be risky. Divorce decrees are usually final, so it could be difficult for you to change incorrect information if you’ve made a mistake on your paperwork.

May Lead to an Unfair Outcome

Even if you and your spouse agree on your divorce, you may not get all you deserve. For example, if your spouse hires an attorney and you don’t have one, you may be at a disadvantage when negotiating the terms of your divorce.

Tax Issues

Getting a divorce can lead to tax issues once you are no longer married. Without using a lawyer, you might not be aware of how different your tax circumstances will be. It’s a good idea to check out the IRS website where you can find information about taxes and divorce.

Should You Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer?

If you’re getting a divorce, it’s understandable that you want it over and done with as soon as possible. However, handling a divorce on your own is not always the best option, depending on your circumstances. You can consider not using a lawyer if you meet certain requirements:

  • You and your spouse agree on terms, and ‘your divorce is uncontested
  • Your spouse isn’t using an attorney
  • You agree on custody of minor children
  • Neither of you need spousal support or alimony
  • There isn’t a lot of property to divide
  • Neither of you has complicated finances (retirement accounts, stocks, investments)
  • Neither of you is in the military
  • There is no history of domestic violence (physical, mental, financial, child abuse)

Want to Talk to a Lawyer About Your Divorce?

If you still find yourself doubting whether you can get divorced without a lawyer, it may be helpful for you to speak to one. Reach out for help and more information about divorce services.

Disclaimer

This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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