When do you need a Divorce Attorney
People usually don’t plan to hire a divorce attorney. This being the case, it is also not unusual for people to find themselves quickly needing a divorce attorney. Top notch divorce attorneys can be difficult to find and can also be expensive. Remember, there are many times that the hiring of a divorce attorney is an absolute necessity. It is also common place to ask the question is, “Is it possible to handle your own divorce?” The answer is that it is entirely possible to handle your own divorce without retaining an attorney, but only if your divorce falls within one of several categories. In other words, if you can isolate a few basic facts and understand the scenarios where self representation is appropriate, it can save a great deal of time and money. However, at the same time, you want to make sure you do not lull yourself into a false sense of security and form the belief that no matter what the circumstances, you can handle them yourself.
To get started, you need to ask a few questions. Do you a short marriage? Do you and your spouse have a limited amount of property or debt or have no children? Have you and your spouse already agreed upon the division of your property and/or the custody of your children? Perhaps most importantly, will you and your spouse be able to resolve all of the issues existing in your divorce between yourselves? If any of these are the case, then you may want to explore handling your own divorce.
What do you need to know? First, while you aren’t required to have an attorney to go into Court, courts require procedure to be followed with little to no latitude. Certain pleadings have to be filed, hearings may need to be requested, certain affidavits or financial documents have to be filed and certain orders have to be prepared. No judges, clerk or bailiff will hold your hand through this process. No one will tell you what to do or when to do it. It will be expected that everyone in the Court knows their way around the Courtroom and also knows the required procedure. However, this should not dissuade you from representing yourself if the facts of your case will allow it. This frequently occurs and with a little research, you can do the same yourself. Doing this can save time and money and in the end, it holds the likelihood of helping you and your spouse to avoid hating each other after you part ways.
If you have made the decision to represent yourself, you will need to do some basic research into the requirements of the domestic courts in your jurisdiction. There are a multitude of online resources that are unique to each state. Many of these are free sites that will give an overview of the process. It is also quite common for many of these sites to even go so far as identifying the forms you will need to have prior to approaching the Court. Do a general Google search for “Divorce” and your specific state. Check several of these sites for consistency.
A second option is to obtain a divorce kit from any one of the many providers that can be found on the Web; however, make sure that this divorce is precisely specific to your state and jurisdiction because divorces are handled differently from state to state.
Yet another option is to simply march down to the domestic court in your jurisdiction and hope you have everything correct. Understand that judges have no patience for the unpracticed, so if things start to become undone, they will dismiss the case without thinking. If you should decide on this route, at a minimum, contact your domestic court or check the web site of your state or local bar and locate the forms and pleadings that the domestic courts in your jurisdiction require.
There is yet another option that you can pursue that, while not as inexpensive as handling your own divorce, is much less expensive than retaining two separate attorneys. Consider hiring one attorney to coordinate everything and get it before the Court. In this scenario, you and your spouse would resolve everything and reduce the agreement to writing. One of you would then visit an attorney, a divorce attorney, who would then incorporate your agreement into the proper form and then generate the appropriate pleadings and forms for you and your spouse to complete. This attorney would also request the appropriate hearings and prepare the appropriate orders to finalize your case. Be warned though, this attorney will likely only represent one of the two parties. It is a conflict of interest for one attorney to represent both parties in a contested action and even if everything is resolved, it is a contested matter. However, the cost will be greatly reduced for you and your spouse.
Regardless of whether you retain and attorney or handle your own case, do be prepared for certain court mandated filing fees that vary in amount from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
The main point to take away from this article is that a divorce does not have to be a tremendous financial drain, nor does it have to be a tremendous stress. If you do your homework, it may in fact be something that you can handle without an attorney at all. Though remember, if your spouse retains and attorney, or your divorce is contested, do not be lured into representing yourself, go find a divorce attorney of your own.
This article is not offered as, nor is it to be construed, as legal advice, nor does it create any relationship, attorney/client or other, between the author and the reader. To obtain any legal advice, consult an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.