Do I need a lawyer for my non-contested divorce or can I do it myself? I get asked this question sometimes. There is not one answer that applies to everyone. As is often the case, it depends on your situation.
Non-Contested Divorce Defined
First, let’s discuss what I mean by a non-contested divorce. A divorce is generally considered non-contested if the parties (soon to be ex husband and wife) agree on the terms of the divorce. If the filing party knows that the spouse will not file an answer or otherwise appear in the lawsuit, a divorce may also be considered non-contested.
Is the Non-Contested Divorce Simple or Complex?
In the first place, whether you will be able to handle your own divorce will largely depend on what issues are involved. If you have a simple divorce – that is a divorce that doesn’t have a lot of complex issues, you may be able to handle the divorce without a divorce lawyer. For instance, Jane and Bob are a couple who want a divorce. Jane and Bob were married for a relatively short period of time, have no property together, and have no children together. Jane and Bob have relatively few issues involved in their divorce and may be able to handle it on their own.
However, the longer Jane and Bob are married the more likely the divorce is to become complicated, even if they agree on the issues.
Complex Issues May Require a Divorce Attorney
The more complex the issues become, the greater the need for a divorce lawyer. Let’s go back to Jane and Bob. First, if Jane and Bob have children together, the issues of custody, visitation and child support need to be decided. Next, Jane and Bob will need to know what Arkansas law says about setting child support. Likewise, they will need to know what the law says about custody (i.e. the difference between joint and sole custody). If Jane and Bob are able to figure out these issues on their own and correctly draft a divorce decree, they may be able to handle the divorce without a lawyer. If they cannot, they should consider hiring a lawyer.
Furthermore, as issues become even more complex, the need for a lawyer increases. If Jane and Bob own a lot of property together, if they are in the middle of a bankruptcy, if they have to divide a family business or retirement accounts, they should probably seek out the help of an experienced divorce attorney.
What is Your Comfort Level?
Whether you can handle your own divorce or whether you need an attorney comes down to your comfort level. Ask yourself: Do I feel comfortable resolving the issues involved in my divorce on my own? Do I feel comfortable drafting my own divorce papers? Do I feel comfortable appearing on my own in front of a judge? If you answered “yes,” and if you have the skill sets required, you can probably handle your own divorce. If you answered “no,” you should think about talking to a divorce lawyer.
Even if you do not wish to hire an attorney for full representation (or if you can’t afford to) you may still want talk with an attorney before filing. Also, you may want to hire an attorney to at least draft your paperwork or look it over. Many attorneys, my office included, will draft documents for clients or offer other unbundled legal services.
Buying Divorce Papers Online
Divorce papers on the internet? Be careful before you buy. Each state’s laws are slightly different. Moreover, not all papers you buy off of the internet are drafted by lawyers. Equally important to price is quality of work. Worthless papers are a waste of money. Don’t end up spending money on paperwork that will not work in Arkansas. It is best to hire an Arkansas attorney to draft your divorce papers.
Call Us Today
If you need an Arkansas attorney to help you with your divorce, feel free to contact us. We can be reached at (501) 960-6060 or by clicking here to schedule a free consultation. We would be happy to sit down with you and discuss your divorce needs.