How To Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer. Couples who are both seeking a divorce and who completely agree on everything, including how to divide family property, who will have custody of the children, and how much child and spousal support will be paid, may be able to complete their divorce without a lawyer.
In most parts of the province, some agents can help you complete the documents if necessary. Standard forms and samples can also be obtained online.
How To Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer
Although it may be possible to complete your divorce without a lawyer, both spouses should make sure that they fully understand their rights and obligations before agreeing to the terms of a divorce. As a minimum, each spouse should get independent advice from a lawyer before finalizing an agreement or signing any documents.
How To Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer: A Step-By-Step Guide
If you want to know how to get a divorce without a lawyer, these are some of the steps you need to take.
Decide Where to File for Divorce
States have residency requirements you must meet before you can file for divorce there. Typically, you and your spouse must have lived in the state for some time, such as six months, before the court will allow you to file for divorce. You usually also have to file for divorce in the country or parish where you and your spouse reside. So, you need to research which court is appropriate for your case.
Learn The Requirements for Divorce in The Relevant State
There are additional requirements for filing for divorce in different states beyond just being a resident. You may need to have lived apart for some time, for example. And while every state has no-fault divorce, some states allow for other grounds or reasons for divorce as well.
Some states recognize covenant marriages. If you entered into a covenant marriage, there may be additional requirements you have to fulfill, such as getting marital counseling first or proving something went wrong, before you can file for divorce.
Gather All the Required Court Forms
To start the divorce process, you will have to obtain all of the required forms. Check with your state’s website, or go to your court’s office or the clerk’s office, and download or ask for all the documents you will need to complete a divorce. The documents most commonly needed include:
A Summons: this document tells someone to notify their spouse that they are starting the divorce process. It will also tell your spouse to file certain documents to ensure he or she is kept in the loop and can take part in all the proceedings.
A Divorce Petition: You need to fill out a divorce petition, which is a document that tells the court and your spouse what you want. You can ask for things such as an end to your marriage, alimony, child custody, child support, and a division of property.
A Divorce Decree: This is the final document the judge will sign to finalize your divorce. The document will include all of the requirements of your divorce, including how property will be distributed and how many children will be cared for.
Work With Your Spouse to Come to An Out-Of-Court Agreement
Divorces can be contested or uncontested.
In a contested divorce, you go to court and argue for your preferred outcome. It is possible to represent yourself in court in a contested divorce, but things are much more complicated. That’s because you need to know what evidence to present in a court hearing, how to present that evidence so it’s admissible and convincing, and what legal arguments you can and cannot make.
An uncontested divorce is simpler and requires you and your spouse to agree on the reasons for divorce and on all the issues involved, including how to divide custody of the kids and shared marital assets. If you are hoping for a do-it-yourself divorce, you should agree on the issues and create your own parenting plan and divorce settlement agreement to make the process as easy as possible.
Draft Your Divorce Petition
The most important document at this stage of the divorce is the divorce petition. You will draft his document and then file it with the clerk of courts.
Provide Notice and Service to The Other Party
Take the original document and give it to your spouse. You will usually ask a marshal or some other professional to do this task for you. Once your spouse has been served and given notice, he or she will return the document to you.
File The Paperwork with The Court
You will need to file appropriate paperwork with the court to initiate the divorce. You’ll also need to make sure your spouse is properly notified and that you can prove they were served with divorce papers. A substantial number of forms and documentation must be submitted to the court in any divorce proceedings. Depending on where you live.
Additional forms are necessary as the divorce progresses. Your court may provide these forms online for DIY divorces, and there are also services online where you can buy a package of forms (sometimes for a flat rate). Be aware, though, that it can be complicated to figure out what paperwork you need to file and what information to include on it. This is one of the big reasons why it’s a good idea for most people to hire a lawyer to help them through the divorce process.
Complete Pre-Trial Requirements
There may be steps you need to take before you can move forward with finalizing the divorce. This could include requesting temporary orders that the court must rule on before you move forward, such as an order for temporary child support. You must also provide financial disclosures and information to a guardian ad litem or law guardian if you are involved in a custody dispute.
Go To Court
At your hearing, if your divorce is uncontested, you and your spouse will simply ask the judge to sign off on your divorce decree, which you will bring to the hearing. If your divorce is contested, a judge will hear both parties’ sides of the story. You and your spouse will each have an opportunity to provide evidence to the court on any issue you disagree on.
At the end of the court hearing, the judge will consider what he or she has heard from you and your spouse and then render a decision.  The court’s judgment (which will be in the form of a divorce decree) will set forth the specifics of your divorce, including what property goes to whom, who gets child custody and/or child support payments, and what amount of alimony a party will receive.
Things To Consider Before Divorcing Without a Lawyer
If you are sure that you want to file for divorce on your own, it is important to consider the potential implications of that decision. Learning and understanding family law, your rights, court procedures, and what you are entitled to from a divorce takes a lot of time and energy.
Here are some things you have to put into consideration:
In cases where you and your spouse only have a few disputed issues and a willingness to negotiate, mediation gives couples the opportunity to work through their issues with the help of a professional mediator. Though couples are not required to hire an attorney for mediation, it is helpful to at least consult with one before the mediation process begins and before you sign any agreement.
They will help to ensure that your rights are protected, you are getting what you are entitled to, and your agreement is fair to you.
The Time and Energy Involved
Divorce laws differ from state to state. Learning and understanding the laws and procedures that apply to your situation can be difficult without help from a family law attorney. If you choose to represent yourself in divorce proceedings, the court will have the same expectations of you as they do of an attorney.
If you have the time, patience, and temperament to research the laws in your state, gain an understanding of how they apply to you, then learn your rights, etc., getting a divorce without an attorney becomes more feasible, but typically it is still not recommended.
Potential Tax Issues
When divorcing, taxes are usually the last thing on people’s minds. However, a divorce can have major implications for your tax situation (i.e., businesses, net worth, asset allocation, etc.). Though this is not an area of expertise for most divorce lawyers, they can refer you to an accountant or financial adviser who will consult with you about the financial implications of your pending divorce.
Think About Your Children
When you and your spouse get divorced, if you have children, those children will need to be cared for. Before filing for divorce, sit down with your spouse and decide who will get child custody and who, if anyone, will pay child support. If you cannot agree on these issues ahead of time, consider hiring an attorney, as you will want to protect the interests of your children in court.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions:
What Is a No-Contest Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse agree on all of the relevant issues, including grounds for divorce, how you’ll divide up shared property, and how you will co-parent children after your marriage ends.
How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost?
It’s no secret that divorces are expensive. In many cases, the biggest expense is the cost of hiring an attorney. Most divorce lawyers charge an upfront fee of $3k–$5k just to get started on your case and an additional $300–$500 per hour on top of that.