Divorce can be expensive. People often wonder if they can get divorced without the help of a divorce attorney. The answer is technically yes—but depending on your marriage length and financial circumstances, it’s not recommended. If you want help protecting separate assets and ensuring your right to half of the marital property, spousal support, child custody and child support, hiring a divorce lawyer is key.
Florida law requires that at least one of you live in Florida for six months before filing. You’ll also need to show that you two are married, but the marriage is unfixable. These requirements apply no matter what kind of divorce you choose, and regardless of whether or not you have a lawyer.
Here’s when you might consider divorcing without a lawyer—and when you absolutely need one.
When can I consider divorcing without a lawyer?
Florida allows simplified dissolutions of marriage, so long as the following conditions are met: there are no minor children from the marriage, the wife is not pregnant at the time of filing, you both complete a financial affidavit and property settlement agreement and both spouses attend the final hearing. If all of these conditions are met—and both of you agree completely on how to separate your assets—you can get divorced without a lawyer. This process takes about 30 days, depending on how quickly each spouse can get their financial information together.
If you have minor children, one of you is currently pregnant or you can’t agree on how to divide your property, a simple dissolution is not the right choice.
When do I need a divorce lawyer?
Depending on how long you’ve been married, you may have had children together, amassed various assets and/or can’t agree on how to separate your finances. In this case, hiring a divorce attorney is essential.
Regulation dissolutions of marriage can be either contested or uncontested. The petitioner (the person who files for divorce) files and serves the papers on their spouse, also known as the respondent. The respondent has an opportunity to file a response.
If the two of you can agree on how to divide your property, child custody and support and spousal support, you can have an “uncontested divorce.” These cases can be handled without a divorce attorney, although it’s not recommended—you may be entitled to more than what you’ve agreed to with your spouse.
If you can’t agree, then your divorce is considered “contested.” This means that once the initial papers are filed, the parties will need to appear in court to present their cases. The judge will review the marital property, assets, support and child custody arguments. Ideally, they’ll be able to come up with a fair solution that works for everyone involved—including your children.
When your divorce is contested, working with a divorce attorney will ensure you get the best results possible. Experienced divorce lawyers not only know the law, but they’ll also know how to present your case in a compelling manner.
For help with your divorce, call the Law Offices of Granoff & Kessler today.