Divorce Without a Lawyer – How to Do it Yourself

Divorce proceedings can be complex and have far-reaching ramifications. There’s plenty of information online, but some of it could prove misleading or cost more in the long run than anticipated.

If both spouses agree on all issues, you can pursue an uncontested divorce. The process will resemble that of a contested one and you will need to file all necessary paperwork.

1. Get the Forms

For an uncontested divorce without legal assistance, it’s necessary to file the necessary state forms. These can be obtained by contacting your courthouse directly or visiting their website. In addition, someone aged 18 or over will need to serve your spouse with papers – this person must sign an affidavit attesting that this has occurred.

Before filing the paperwork, it is a good idea to discuss why you want a divorce with your partner. Achieve an amicable solution is often easier and cheaper, especially where children are involved; mediation or collaborative law could be effective tools in reaching an amicable resolution that suits both parties involved.

2. Get a Fee Waiver

Dependent upon your state’s laws, if you can’t afford your divorce fees you may qualify to have them waived. To do this you will need to complete an indigency application and provide details about your financial circumstances such as pay stubs or bank statements as proof.

If you are unable to complete indigency forms on your own, you may be eligible for free legal help through local organizations that specialize in divorce cases. Conduct an internet search to locate legal assistance available in your area for low-cost or free divorces.

Deliberating your divorce paperwork on your own can save both time and money, but you must familiarize yourself with all court procedures to avoid costly errors. Follow instructions carefully so as not to waste time or money with costly mistakes.

3. File the Paperwork

If finances prohibit legal representation for your divorce proceedings, filing pro se is an option to consider. Pro Se stands for “on Your Own Representative”.

This typically requires filing the Petition for Divorce and providing both parties with financial affidavits to detail their respective financial situations. New York also imposes residency requirements and sets an unsatisfied time period before divorce can be granted.

Many websites provide forms and instructions to assist people filing for divorce, however some of these sources may contain false or inaccurate information or fail to supply all of the required details for filing correctly. Faulty paperwork could delay or deny your claims in court.

4. Ask for a Hearing

When applying to court for a hearing, the judge will require extensive information about your financial circumstances – tax returns, recent bank statements, joint and separate property including houses and cars as well as retirement accounts like 401(k), outstanding debts and more will all be required of you.

If the divorce is contentious, a judge will want to learn more about any children you and your ex-spouse share and their care arrangements, including custody, visitation and any other relevant matters.

In most instances, you will be known as the petitioner or plaintiff and your spouse as either respondent or defendant in court proceedings. Therefore, it’s essential that you review local rules and procedures in order to be certain you have all of the required paperwork ready for court.

5. Go to Court

Dispute-Free Divorce If both spouses can agree on all aspects of divorce such as property division, child custody and spousal support without contention, an uncontested divorce may be achievable. You should still consult a lawyer, however, so that everything runs smoothly as well as identify any tax implications which might arise during the process.

If the case is contentious, the court will require both of you to attend a court hearing to review all filed documents and listen to evidence presented during your divorce proceeding. At this hearing, a judge will hear all facts of your case before issuing his or her verdict in the form of a divorce decree.

Before visiting the courthouse, be sure to dress professionally and address the judge directly – this will demonstrate your seriousness about your case.