Contrary to popular opinion, there is no law that says you must have an attorney to get adivorce. In fact, with all of the do-it-yourself divorce forms now on the market, it’s sometimes quite easy to handle your own divorce from start to finish, without ever consulting a lawyer.
That said, the divorce process can be complicated at times and there are situations in which consulting a divorce lawyer is a good idea. You should base your decision on the complexity of your individual case and your level of comfort.
Uncontested divorces, for example, that involve no children and very little community property are fairly simple to dissolve and you may decide that you are comfortable with filing this action yourself.
On the other hand, a couple that has been married for 20 years, have children, a marital home, pension plans, joint checking accounts or credit cards and the like may find that drafting their own divorce paperwork and handling the property distribution is far too complicated. Regardless of how long you’ve been married, there may also be complicatedtax issues to consider as well.
Your decision may also depend on whether or not the divorce is contested. When both parties agree to divorce, they may be able to reach an amicable settlement on their own. However, when one of the parties chooses to fight for custody, spousal support or other assets, it is typically wise to hire an attorney to handle your case.
If you do decide to file your own divorce, many states have taken steps to simplify the process and offer virtual “self-serve” centers to help you handle your own legal affairs. Arizona, for example, provides downloadable forms as well as an online interactive program to help you complete the necessary forms for legal separation, divorce and other family law actions.
For more on handling your own divorce, you may find this book on dividing your assets to be helpful as well as this book that explains how to protect your financial interests.