This is a common question asked by those who are considering getting divorced. Many of the divorces that occur in Arizona proceed without either spouse having an attorney. There is no legal requirement to have an attorney represent you in your divorce, getting a divorce without a lawyer is possible but not always advised.
Arizona is a no-fault divorce state. This means that either of the parties has the right to file for a divorce without needing to state a specific reason. If you aren’t getting along and you feel that you would be better off without your partner, you can file for a divorce.
For some couples, getting divorced without attorneys is perfectly fine. However, there is still some risk, so you might at least want to consult with a lawyer before moving forward.
Can You DIY the Divorce?
What if you’ve only been married for a short time? Maybe you don’t have many marital assets, and you don’t have children. In those cases, it’s reasonable for a person to represent themselves when going through a divorce. You can find forms through the Maricopa County Superior court that you’ll have to fill out for your divorce. If you and your spouse are agreeing with the terms and aspects of the divorce, you won’t need to have an attorney.
If you have a simple, uncontested divorce, you can find a wealth of resources online at places like Modern Law that can help to get you started. There and through the county court websites, you’ll find forms and assets that can help you to get a better understanding of divorce, fill out your paperwork, and handle the divorce on your own. This is an instance where getting a divorce without a lawyer is possible.
Just keep in mind that even with simple divorces, you’ll have to keep track of the paperwork and make sure you file everything correctly and on time. You may find that working with a certified document preparer can make matters easier for you.
Difficult Divorces Are Made Easier with an Attorney
Of course, it’s important to realize that not all divorces are so cut and dry. Even with some short-term marriages, there will be issues that crop up. The forms may not cover everything, and you’ll still likely have quite a few questions regarding what you need to do.
Complex divorces should typically have help from an attorney. Marriages that would be considered complex include those with children, long marriages, and those where there are issues with property and assets. If there is a lot of marital debt, it’s going to be a complex case, as well. In those cases, it is often better to use an attorney.
Even if you and your spouse are getting along, you’ll find that it’s often better to work with an attorney. They can help you to reach a fair settlement, and one that looks out for your interests now and in the future.
Whether it’s related to your children, spousal maintenance, division of assets and debt, etc., it’s easy to make mistakes if you aren’t thinking clearly. Because divorce tends to be so emotional for everyone involved, it’s not uncommon to make mistakes that could come back to haunt you later.
For situations that include any complex matters, you’re better off seeing a qualified attorney. Of course, you could still represent yourself if you wanted to. Just keep in mind that if you do, you’ll be treated by the courts as if you know the law. You won’t have any do-overs just because you misunderstood something. Your paperwork and evidence have to meet certain deadlines and guidelines, too. These are just a few of the things to consider when thinking about getting a divorce without a lawyer.
Although many couples get divorced in Arizona without an attorney, a lot of those are cases that are simpler than yours. Others with more difficult cases might come to regret not using an attorney.
Consider Limited-Scope Representation If You Have a Smaller Budget
If working with an attorney tends to be the best option, why are so many people choosing to do it on their own? Most of the time, it will come down to a matter of money. Divorce has the potential to be very expensive, and most people don’t have tens of thousands of dollars—or more—to pay for a divorce. They have a lot of other financial worries that they have to start thinking about.
One of the ways to help keep the costs of divorce down will be to use a limited-scope attorney. This means that you and the lawyer agree that they will handle certain aspects of the case and you will handle others. This arrangement will help you better control just how much you are spending on legal services.
They might only provide help with consultations or with filing paperwork, for example. You might take care of the negotiations. On the other hand, if you don’t do well in negotiations, you could have them handle that, while you take care of the paperwork. By limiting the amount of work the attorneys are doing, you are limited in how much you have to spend.
Another way to keep your budget down on your divorce is by reaching agreements and settling on different aspects of your case. When you settle, you can save a substantial amount of money since you won’t have to go through litigation.
If You Decide to Use an Attorney
It’s important that you make sure you choose a qualified attorney for your case if you don’t plan on getting a divorce without a lawyer. If you have a substantial amount of assets, and you are certain you will have to go to court with your spouse, you’ll want to have an attorney that knows how to litigate and who has handled cases like yours.
Always take the time to learn more about the attorney you are considering. Get a consultation, see how they work, and whether they will be the one taking your case or if you will be working with another lawyer at their firm. Often, firms will assign cases to those lawyers who are best suited for that particular type of family law matter or divorce.