Can I DIY My Divorce or Should I Hire a Lawyer
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Can I DIY My Divorce or Should I Hire a Lawyer?

After it’s obvious that you or your spouse want to terminate your marriage, the next phase is to discover how to get divorced. You are going to need to choose whether you:

  • can manage your own divorce case using a DIY method
  • may wish to attempt at mediation (having a lawyer or not) to resolve unsettled concerns, or
  • are required to retain a lawyer to represent you during settlement and/or in court.

There are some elements to think about when choosing which divorce track is suitable for you.

Is One of You Going to Seek a Fault Divorce?

Spouses must declare grounds for their divorce when they file. Every state including D.C. allow spouses to file for divorce on a no-fault ground basis, which means no one is to blame for the end of the relationship. Spouses can simply specify “irreconcilable differences,” which is also known as the “irretrievable” or “irremediable breakdown of the marriage,” subject to where you reside. These conditions refer to the same basic notion—that the spouses just can no longer get along, there is no possibility of a reconciliation, and the marriage is irreparably broken. There’s no need to establish and prove misconduct or bad behavior that was the cause of the divorce. In many states, spouses can optionally base their divorce on a separation for a specific period of time.

In many states, spouses are still able to file for fault-based divorces, meaning the grounds for divorce is that one spouse conducted misbehavior that led to the failure of the marriage. These differ by state, but the most general fault grounds comprise of cheating, neglect, abuse, and alcohol and/or drug addiction. Fault cases usually take longer for them to be resolved in court since you are required to submit admissible evidence and demonstrate to a judge the misconduct happened and that it was the cause of the divorce.

You should get in touch with a skilled family law attorney near you prior to you filing for a fault-based divorce to find out if you fulfill the requirements, are able to prove your case, and if there is any benefit for seeking a fault divorce that might supersede the additional legal and court costs, stress, and discord with your soon to be ex.

Does Your Spouse Already Have Attorney?

When you’ve already been served with divorce papers by a process server or your spouse’s attorney, you should speak with an attorney as soon as you can. Divorce and family law statutes differ by state, and unless you already know your states laws and local statutes, you are going to have a lot to learn to comprehend.

Family law is a dedicated field and a simple error on your documents can have life-long consequences or unintended ramifications. Since the risk is so high and personal in divorces, it’s wise not to attempt to take on a skilled family law attorney. After your spouse has hired a lawyer, you need to hire a skilled attorney, that can explain your rights and obligations, use specific knowledge to advocate for you, and get the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Do You Have Younger Children With Your Spouse and Agree on Both Custody and Child Support?

When divorcing spouses have children under eighteen, they are going to have to make decisions concerning child custody, each legally and physically. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions concerning your child’s healthcare, schooling, and welfare, where physical custody is in reference to where the child is going to live and if each of the parents is going to spend equal time with their child(ren) or one parent is going to be the primary parent.

Parents are required to also agree on child support concerns, including who is going to pay, how much the amount is going to be, and how often payments are going to be made. All of these concerns should be established using state regulations and must be in the best interests of the child.

When parents are unable to agree on these things, they are going to either have to attend mediation to attempt to come to an agreement or end up going to court requesting a judge to make a decision for them.

Do You and Your Spouse Agree on Alimony?

Alimony (which is also called spousal support or spousal maintenance depending on where you live) is a payment made from a higher-earning spouse to a lesser-earning or unemployed spouse for a period of time.

There are many types of alimony, in which are intended to cover many things. For instance, temporary alimony is paid during the divorce proceedings so the lesser-earning spouse can fulfill primary needs, like sustenance, living quarters, and other costs. It concludes when the divorce case is finished, and a judge issues an additional alimony order.

Long-term or continual alimony is put in place for long-term marriages, in which one of the spouses has the financial capability of paying, and the other spouse has a lesser or no earning ability. It’s established to allow the supported spouse to reside as close to the marital convention of living they can. The guidelines on establishing the amount and length of alimony differ by state, but if you and your soon to be ex can’t come to an agreement on this matter, it may be time to contemplate about mediation or to consult with an attorney and go to court.

Do You Both Agree on the Way to Split Your Property and Debts?

Overall, in every state, the assets you and your spouse get together throughout the marriage are thought of as “marital property, that needs to be split in some way between the two of you in your divorce.

In states that are community property states, the marital property is referred to community property and is split fifty/ fifty. In states that are equitable distribution states, the marital property is split impartially, meaning it is split the way the court deems is fair, which is sometimes not always fifty/ fifty.

Marital debt is divided in a likewise way, but there are exceptions if one spouse squandered assets away without approval or developed debts that weren’t for the benefit of the family. Say one spouse used marital savings to run up spending spree debt or to go on trips and buy presents for an extramarital relationship, a judge is going to typically designate these debts to the “offending” party and instruct that the “guiltless” party be compensated.

If you both have little to no property or debt to split or when you can agree on what you both consider marital property, its value, and how it should be split, then you can probably manage this part of your divorce by yourselves. If you can’t come to an agreement or think you need assistance coming to one, you should get a hold of a mediator or speak with an attorney that can represent you in court.

Choosing Whether to DIY

When your case is somewhat simple—say, you and your spouse don’t have considerable assets or minor children with each other—and you both agree on the important concerns, DIY is really possible.

When you both disagree about any of your divorce-related concerns, mediation may be a good alternative; it is able to work even when divorcing spouses disagree on meaningful concerns. Occasionally spouses can work alongside a mediator and otherwise manage their case on their own. Other situations, it makes sense for a spouse to also hire an attorney, that can work behind closed doors and help them navigate through the mediation process.

Collaborative divorces are another option to the conventional divorce process. It’s likewise to mediation in that the goal is to stay away from court, but the particular process is a lot different. With collaborative divorce, you both must hire attorneys that are specially trained with collaborative law, and you have to devote yourselves to avoiding court. This process can be costly, so it’s vital you do some research and discover all you can concerning collaborative divorce prior to you choosing this path.

Obviously, in many cases, spouses discover that they have no other option but to retain an attorney and go through the standard court process. For instance, it’s typically important for spouses that have experienced domestic abuse to have a lawyer support them. Or, when you think your spouse is actively hiding assets or squandering marital funds, you should speak with an attorney to safeguard your interests.

If you’re unsure concerning which course to take as you get ready to take on your divorce, don’t forget that you can speak with an attorney at any time you wish without devoting yourself to hiring one.


  1. Can I handle my own divorce or should I hire a lawyer? – moshier law. Divorce, Family Law and Estate Planning. (2022, January 13). Retrieved May 5, 2022, from

Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer in Arizona

Regardless of the choice you make, it’s important you make the best choice for you when hiring a divorce attorney. Remember: The decisions you make now can affect your future. Ultimately, choosing the best lawyer will depend on which lawyer feels best for you and your situation.

If you want to learn about Michelle N. Ogborne and see if she is the right attorney to represent you in your collaborative divorce in Arizona, contact us today!

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