File Divorce Without An Attorney

File Divorce Without An AttorneyHusbands or wives wanting a divorce can cut down on legal costs and possibly on the amount of time they’ll have to spend in court if they choose to file divorce without an attorney.

Divorce can be an expensive legal procedure, depending on the number of issues that a couple has to resolve. Handling one’s own divorce requires accessing the correct legal forms to file, reaching a settlement with the other spouse on personal property, finances and the custody of children, as well as representing one’s self in family court.

Plaintiffs, who are the spouses initiating the divorce proceedings, have to obtain the proper legal forms before filing a complaint for divorce. Although the forms are free, there are costs that must be paid to the court for filing the forms. The documents can usually be found at the courthouse or on the Internet. For those who do not have access to the Internet, local bookstores and libraries have self-help books and legal research guides that include the forms along with information on the divorce laws of the state in which the divorce will be filed.

While legal expenses may be reduced when handling one’s own divorce, costs will still be involved. For instance, there is a cost involved when filing the divorce complaint, which details the facts of the marriage, and a “summons,” which is a document that notifies the other spouse of the need to respond to the divorce complaint. The other spouse is called the “defendant” in the case. The documents can be delivered in person or by a process server, who requires payment. The court must also have proof that the defendant spouse received a copy of the documents. It is also the responsibility of the plaintiff to notify the defendant spouse of all future court hearings.

Since most states have no-fault divorce, the person filing for divorce does not have to prove that his or her spouse did anything wrong to cause the divorce. Even so, the plaintiff should have certain matters settled with their spouse before going to court. In most cases, these matters include dividing personal property, paying debts or taxes, and paying spousal support. Divorces can get complicated if minor children are involved, in that decisions have to be made about child support, child custody and parenting time, or visitation. The plaintiff should give the court notarized documents signed by both parties, outlining the terms of the settlement agreement on these issues. For instance, if the couple has debts, the document must show each outstanding debt, to whom it’s owed, and how much each spouse will pay toward the debt, or whether only one spouse will assume the debt.

Another aspect of handling one’s own divorce includes appearing before the judge presiding over the court case. Not having an attorney means acting as one’s own attorney. It is wise for those choosing to represent themselves in court to seek advice on, or read about, court protocol, such as what to wear and how to conduct themselves before a judge. Preparing for court might also mean preparing to go up against the other spouse’s attorney. While the person filing for divorce does not want to have an attorney, the spouse may decide to hire a lawyer to represent him or her in court. The attorney will be familiar with the state laws governing divorce, the court system and might use legal terms that the plaintiff may not understand.

There is a lot to weigh when dissolving a marriage and that is why it’s important to carefully consider whether to file divorce without an attorney.

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