Couples who cannot afford to hire a divorce lawyer, who have no children, who have no assets, and who have an uncontested divorce have the legal right to file a pro se divorce, which is a divorce without legal help from a divorce lawyer. Couples who decide to file a divorce without a divorce lawyer, however, will have the same responsibilities as the divorce lawyer, which means they are responsible for accurately filing and completing all legal forms.
Issues to consider before deciding not to hire a divorce lawyer
Divorce lawyers have the legal expertise to help with the divorce process. If it was easy, no one would need a divorce lawyer. Unfortunately, some of the emotional aspects of the divorce as well as the complexities of dividing marital property, determining child custody issues, petitioning for alimony, and negotiating child support are simply too important to be handled without expert help.
So should you file for divorce without a lawyer? Not until you have considered all of the issues listed above and you understand your state’s divorce laws, the Family Court Codes, the rules which you must follow, and the current version of your states Rules of Civil Procedure.
Steps to start the divorce process
If you are considering divorce the first step is to make sure you understand your state’s resident requirements and divorce laws. Both your state and your county will have residency requirements which must be met prior to filing for divorce.
For example, in the state of Texas at the time the divorce petition is filed, the petitioner or the respondent must have lived in the state for the preceding six-month period. They also must be a resident of the county for the preceding 90-day period. For more information about the residency requirements you can contact your Court Clerk’s Office.
Next, the petitioner (the spouse who files for divorce) will have to file the Original Petition for Divorce in the appropriate county court, which is generally the county where you or your spouse have established residency.
The petition should be taken in person to the Court Clerk. Be sure to make copies. You will retain a copy and the other two copies will be kept by the Court Clerk, who will file it with the court. Another copy is sent to the Respondent. There will be a fee for filing the Original Petition for Divorce which can vary by court.
Reasons for the Divorce
Not only will you need to know where to file the petition, you will also need to know how to file, and the reasons or grounds in which you are pleading. Gone are the days where you must prove infidelity, abuse, or abandonment. In fact, most couples file a no-fault divorce and simply state the grounds as irreconcilable differences. With that said, however, you do have the legal right to include misconduct as the grounds for the divorce.
When should I hire a divorce lawyer?
As mentioned above, filing pro se may be fine when there are no children to consider and no assets to divide. Hiring a lawyer if you have child support or child custody to negotiate, however, is a must. Talk to a divorce lawyer if you have questions about your divorce.
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