Do You Need A Lawyer To Get A Divorce?
Divorces can entail intense, long-lasting, and complex court battles involving expensive lawyers, but they can also be far more simplistic and cheaper. While an attorney is never a legal requirement in the United States, many people seeking a divorce do prefer to work with an experienced legal professional who can represent their interests. Whether hiring a lawyer to help with the divorce process is right for any specific individual will likely depend on the circumstances of their marriage breakdown, such as whether it is mutual or if they are comfortable with handling this process themselves. Learn the answer to “Do you need a lawyer to get a divorce?” and determine how The Millard Law Firm can assist individuals considering divorce by contacting (678) 319-9500.
What Is Divorce?
Divorce is the legal process initiated by one or both spouses that legally ends a married couple’s relationship. Sometimes called a dissolution of marriage, this procedure terminates the marriage prior to one of the spouses passing away. Common divorce issues relate to asset division, alimony, and child custody, and divorces may entail both spouses agreeing on these issues (uncontested divorces) or disagreeing (contested divorces), resulting in the need to overcome these problems in court.
The legal paperwork necessary to obtain a divorce varies from state to state. In Georgia, the filing requirements for divorce include:
- Submitting divorce papers in the county where one of the spouses has lived for a minimum of 6 months to the superior court clerk
- Filing a divorce petition or complaint including the legal reasons for wanting a divorce and the issues the spouse requesting the divorce wants to address in court
What Is the Cheapest Way To Get a Divorce?
The cheapest method of obtaining a divorce is for the person seeking this legal action to organize and submit the documents themselves. Doing this means the individual avoids paying potentially hefty legal fees. However, it does mean that person has to locate all the necessary forms, correctly fill them in, submit the documents, and negotiate the divorce terms with the other spouse without any assistance.
How Much Does a Simple Divorce Cost?
Simple divorces, also called uncontested divorces, occur when there is a consensus between both spouses on their marital issues. Individuals pursuing this type of divorce, who file their own papers, can expect to pay a few hundred dollars, alongside state filing fees (unless they can get these waived for having a low income). Soon-to-be divorcees who decide to hire a lawyer for an uncontested divorce can often end up paying several thousands of dollars in attorney fees.
When To Hire a Divorce Attorney
In certain scenarios, it might make sense to hire a divorce attorney. These situations include:
- When there is an issue of abuse within the relationship
- When one spouse believes the other is behaving vindictively and not being truthful about specific issues
- When the divorce entails complex financial matters or child custody arrangements
- When the other spouse has already hired an attorney
If any of these apply and one of the spouses cannot afford an attorney, they may consider getting in touch with local organizations, including bar associations and legal aid providers, to see whether they are eligible for free or low-cost legal representation. Explore a more detailed answer to “Do you need a lawyer to get a divorce?” and see how a Georgia divorce attorney can help those thinking about getting a divorce by arranging a consultation with The Millard Law Firm.
Divorce Attorney Alternatives
Below are some alternatives to hiring an attorney to pursue a conventional divorce:
- Collaborative divorce: This involves both spouses using attorneys to settle as opposed to pursuing litigation. Usually, if the parties cannot agree, requiring the need to go to court, the spouses have an agreement already in place to find new lawyers, thus encouraging the initial lawyers not to prolong the process since there are no financial rewards for doing so.
- Mediation: Here, impartial, third-party mediators aim to encourage the spouses to put aside their emotions and use the facts of their marriage to obtain a settlement that pleases both parties. One of the key benefits of this option is that it allows for instant communication between spouses, reducing delays in the process.
- Limited representation: This option refers to hiring a lawyer to review certain elements of the divorce process, such as recommending what a fair agreement looks like, assessing and drafting the divorce agreement, attending mediation sessions, filing the divorce papers, and attending the divorce hearing. Often, this is a cheaper alternative to full representation.
Tips for Pursuing a Divorce Without a Lawyer
If the spouses agree on most or all divorce issues, have detailed financial records in hand, are willing to research their state’s laws, are comfortable with speaking in court, and have no history of domestic violence in their relationship, they might decide it makes sense for them to navigate the divorce process themselves. The following tips might be useful for those who want a divorce without hiring an attorney.
Focus on Organization
Divorces involve considerable paperwork and, sometimes, several court hearings. An effective starting point is to create a digital or physical filing system for keeping the documentation organized. Establishing a calendar can also help individuals stay aware of upcoming court dates and filing deadlines.
Approach the County Clerk
Despite varying court practices, many county clerks are likely to offer individuals the fundamental information necessary to file for divorce by themselves. Before approaching them directly, check their website first as this information might be available there. The state judiciary’s online resources can also give individuals helpful information concerning divorce via FAQs, information sheets, and forms.
Research Tax Implications
Any decisions made during the divorce process can potentially have long-lasting and significant tax consequences. For instance, alimony payments can impact a person’s tax liability. With this in mind, consider visiting the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) website to learn more about how divorce affects an individual’s taxes.
Contact a Georgia Family Law Attorney Today
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that almost 690,000 divorces and annulments occurred in the United States in 2021. When the divorce process starts, the separating partners often considers whether they require an attorney. Gain a more comprehensive answer to “Do you need a lawyer to get a divorce?” and find out how a seasoned Georgia family law attorney might be of assistance by calling (678) 319-9500.