You do not have to have a lawyer when filing for divorce with kids. However, depending on your particular financial situation, you may need to seek professional help. If you have kids in the picture, the truth is that divorce with children is complicated. But, what if you cannot afford a lawyer with all the financial responsibilities awaiting you after the divorce?
Granted, you’d have to pay an attorney fee ranging between $5,000 and $30,000 depending on where you reside. You’d also have to pay filing fees and if you’re lucky you can get a waiver of service fees. Litigation also means a lot of time spent in the courts which would have otherwise been used to do other productive things.
If you decide to handle the divorce proceedings on your own, you’d have to deal with certain issues. For example, you and your soon-to-be-ex need to amicably decide on the division of marital property, debt division (community debts), custody of children, parenting plan, parenting time, and child support division.
The most contentious issue if you want to go through a divorce with children without a lawyer is getting your significant other to agree on all pertinent issues. If you cannot come to an agreement, the divorce process may seem to be a very difficult time.
Assuming you cannot agree on most issues such as division of marital property, child custody, child support division, and visitation rights, working with a divorce mediator can make things easier.
Mediation is a great solution if you have any disputes over children such as parenting issues. A mediator not only helps you save on legal fees but also ensures that you and your partner reach a consensus without emotions getting in the way. For example, you need to amicably decide which parent assumes physical custody and which one has legal custody over the children. The non-custodial parent is also expected to pay for child support in accordance with the child support guidelines in your state. It’s also possible that the two of you decide to equally share on child care expenses.
Although laws in the county courts slightly differ from those of the state, you can get some advice from your county clerk regarding divorce judgments and the actual divorce. A county clerk isn’t a legal officer but they can sure point you in the right direction if you decide to go through marriage dissolution without a lawyer. The clerks know the best law library around and may also have some information that can help you.
A mutual consent divorce is easy to handle but you need to file the right divorce complaint documents with the courts. You can do it yourself or you could approach legal document preparers commonly known as paralegals for assistance with divorce forms. The legal document preparers cannot offer personalized legal services because that’s in the mandate of licensed divorce attorneys.
Legal document preparers (LDP) will ask you to fill a questionnaire that you need to answer correctly. The answer forms will determine how the LDP will fill your divorce forms. You can choose to present the forms to the courts or the paralegal officer can do it on your behalf.
Basically, there are three types of forms you need to file for your divorce proceedings.
This is the document you serve your spouse in person or through a lawyer to notify them of your intention to end the marriage. The form also requires your partner to file certain documents to make the divorce proceedings more seamless.
The other document you need to fill in is the divorce petition commonly known as the complaint for divorce form. This form tells the family court and your partner what you want after ending your marriage. Here you can indicate spousal support, child support, child custody, and property division. Property can be either real property, pension benefits, retirement accounts, insurance policies, and joint bank accounts. It’s important to indicate which property you own together (community property) and those you acquired on your own (separate property).
This is the document that you submit to the supreme court and which the judge signs to finalize the divorce. This document contains agreements regarding child support, child custody agreement, distribution of property, and alimony if needed.
These days everything is simplified because you can also fill the divorce papers online. There are many web-based document preparation services where you’ll need to fill in the information and print it. In this case, you’ll have to present the documents to the courts yourself.
You need to assess whether you’re fit for a divorce without an attorney. Here are some of the things you need to consider.
Partners with minor children can proceed to have an uncontested divorce if they agree on all issues in the best interests of their children and they don’t have any history of domestic violence. If the couple has problems agreeing with certain issues regarding the kids, a mediator can help them come to a consensus. A collaborative divorce is often cheaper for parents and easier on kids than having to go through a court process.
It’s possible to file your divorce papers without any legal help. However, when a minor child is involved or you both have the property that needs division, it’s best to seek the services of a consulting attorney. Property, in this case, can be either personal property or community property.
A consulting attorney will look over the forms to ensure that you haven’t given away any legal rights or made any mistakes. A simple mistake or misspelling could deny you certain rights over your kids or even victimize you in the division of property. The professional will also advise on any other issues so that you can have an amicable divorce.
Notably, if one of the spouses has sought the services of a family law attorney, it’s imperative that the other one finds a professional to review the paperwork. There are exceptions if the partner without a lawyer has a good understanding of the law. Otherwise, they may be at a great disadvantage against the other parent.
It’s possible to go through a divorce hearing without a lawyer even with kids. However, it’s advisable to ask a consulting attorney to go through the paperwork to ensure you haven’t made any mistakes. If you have any disagreements over child custody agreements, child support, spousal support, or marital property issues, it’s advisable to go through mediation.
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