Do You Need a Divorce Attorney?

If you are facing the breakup of your marriage, do you need a divorce attorney to handle everything for you? With the cost of a divorce, it's understandable that many people consider do-it-yourself divorce, handling the paperwork and court filings themselves. In some cases, this is a viable option and one that can save you money. In other situations, it's not a very smart move.

The article below can give you some tips about whether you need a divorce attorney for your case or not.

Do You Absolutely Need a Lawyer for Your Divorce or Custody Case?

Your interests can always be better represented by an attorney. You already know that. But are there times when self-representation is, well, "good enough"?

The following are some very general guidelines about the safest situations in which to represent yourself and the riskiest situations for self-representation. Needless to say, these general guidelines may not apply in your particular case.

Safest Self-Representation Cases:

  1. A marriage in which both partners worked throughout the marriage, earn comparable salaries, have no minor children together and have accumulated no property together to speak of, especially if the marriage is very brief to relatively brief
  2. A marriage in which neither partner worked steadily or earns much money, they have no minor children together and they have accumulated no property to speak of, especially if the marriage is very brief to relatively brief
  3. A very brief to relatively brief marriage in which the partners have no minor children together and have accumulated no property to speak of
  4. A marriage in which both partners worked throughout the marriage and earn comparable salaries, have accumulated no property together to speak of and where both partners are excellent, involved parents to their minor children together and each parent wants the other parent to stay very involved in the life of their child(ren)
  5. A marriage in which neither partner works steadily or earns much money, they have accumulated no property to speak of and both partners are excellent, involved parents to their minor children together and each parent wants the other parent to stay very involved in the life of their child(ren)
  6. Any marriage in which the partners have no children together and they are aware of and able to agree on how to divide all property and all support issues and, probably, their agreement is not patently unfair
  7. Any marriage in which the partners are aware of and able to agree on how to divide all property and all support issues, their agreement provides adequately for the care of the children and reasonable visitation with the non-custodial parent and, probably, their agreement is not patently unfair in regard to financial matters

Riskiest Self-Representation Cases (or Do Yourself a Big Favor and Figure Out A Way to Retain a Lawyer):

Find a Divorce Attorney
  • either partner has a criminal record
  • either partner is accused of domestic violence, including child abuse
  • either partner is accused of sexual abuse
  • either partner is accused of non-physical abuse (verbal, emotional, psychological, psychic, etc.)
  • either partner is neglectful and/or irresponsible
  • either partner suffers from inadequately treated mental illness
  • either partner has a physical disability or other significant health issue
  • either partner is not mentally competent (example, Alzheimer's disease)
  • either partner abuses alcohol or any other substance
  • either partner is accused of abandonment
  • either partner is accused of poor parenting skills or judgment
  • either partner or caretaker of children is accused of illegal immigrant status
  • either partner is overextended financially and on the verge of bankruptcy
  • either partner owns a privately held business
  • either partner has a history of defaulting in financial obligations such as court-ordered support of other children or previous spouse
  • either partner is believed to be hiding assets
  • either partner is believed to work for cash payments
  • either partner has a history of willful refusal to work for a living
  • either partner has recently moved to another state, particularly if a child of the relationship was taken
  • either partner has recently moved to another county, particularly if a child of the relationship was taken
  • either partner has threatened to run off with the children
  • either partner has tried to limit or interfere with visitation of the children
  • either partner has badmouthed the other to the children
  • either partner has stated that the other is able to support the children without assistance
  • either partner has warned that he or she will not provide any financial support where the other partner may be entitled to it
  • either partner is just plain disagreeable for the sake of it
  • the other partner's lawyer is just plain disagreeable for the sake of it
  • the other partner's lawyer is consistently extremely aggressive, contentious and intimidating
  • the case has already started and the judge has strongly encouraged you to hire a lawyer or
  • the case has already started and the judge really doesn't seem to be seeing things your way at all.

(*This article contains only general legal information and not specific legal advice.)


© Article supplied by Janet Langjahr, Attorney-at-Law, practicing in Divorce Law, Child Custody Law, and Domestic Violence Law. Visit www.FLA-DivorceLaw.com for more information.


If you decide that you do need a divorce attorney, the following articles can give you more information: