Legal Tips: Divorce Without A Lawyer

Filing divorces with no lawyers is a possibility. Different options for different situations. Managing your own marriage dissolustion is not difficult.

Executing a divorce can be a complicated process. Both parties have their own agendas and best interest at hand. Each party usually retains a lawyer to represent them. The lawyer's job is to maximize the benefits and minimize the losses of the divorce settlement. But there are situations where a lawyer isn't necessary. A couple may amicably decide to divorce. As a result they may come to an agreement between themselves, and not need a lawyer for negotiation. If there are no children or property involved a divorce is easier because there are no assets to divide. Sometimes one may not be able to afford a lawyer. Thus, they may at least begin the divorce process themselves. This minimizes the expense for a lawyer, if one becomes necessary later during the process.

In situations like these, how does one file for divorce without a lawyer? One must first obtain divorce papers. These can be obtained from the county court house, the Chancery division. The court will provide a packet with sample divorce papers. One must type up an original version with the pertinent information. If the two parties live in separate counties, the papers are to be obtained and filed in the county of the defendant. Before the papers are filed, two copies must be made. Both copies are notarized, and then filed with the court.

The next step is for the defendant to be served the divorce notice papers. The plaintiff may use any unrelated adult over eighteen years of age. Or one can hire a professional processor. This person shall hand deliver the papers to the defendant. The package will include the complaint, the financial and/or custodial terms, a response form and a waiver.


If the divorce is mutual, the defendant will sign the waiver to a hearing and accept the terms. If the defendant wants to challenge the terms, they fill out the response and return it to the courthouse. The court will then schedule a hearing date for both parties to appear and plead their case.

If there is a financial dispute (such as child support, alimony or joint property), both parties should bring to the hearing all financial documents covering assets, liabilities and joint contracts. The judge will review them and render a settlement agreement.

If one is not confident in filling out the forms, and requesting the terms of the divorce, help is available. Many law schools offer legal clinics, where upper level law students will assist one in preparing the forms. They also offer legal advice. There is no charge for these clinics, as the students benefit by gaining experience.

There are also multi-purpose (travel, notary, immigration help) agencies that offer divorce processing services. Usually staffed with a paralegal, they fill out forms, file the forms and serve the defendant for you. However, they do not offer advice. They charge the court filing fee plus one to three hundred dollars extra. But the divorce must involve no children and no joint process.

There is also what's known as a "quickie divorce". These usually take place in countries outside the U.S., such as the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Both parties must agree to the divorce. These are popular because the processing time is less than forty-eight hours. These are done, when the couple needs to divorce rapidly, and the U.S. courts can not provide a fast enough court date. Filing a divorce without a lawyer is a possibility. There are different options for different situations. Whether you need an overnight divorce, or you and your partner have amicably decided it's best to be friends, orchestrating your own divorce is not as difficult as it seems.

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