No Children? No Money or Property to Speak Of? Mutual Agreement? These Are Ideal Conditions for Divorcing Without Lawyers
Depending on your circumstances and where you live, you might be able to save a lot of time, money and heartache by getting divorced without bringing lawyers into the proceedings.
A divorce and newport beach personal injury attorney may be possible if you and your spouse:
• have no children;
• have little money or property to divide;
• both agree to divorce by mutual consent;
• are incommunicado and you don’t know how to contact him or her.
Your first step is to obtain the proper forms and paperwork that are used in your state. In this modern age, state-specific forms are available online through Legalzoom.com. Or you can visit your local government offices to obtain low-cost packets including forms and instructions. Depending on where you live, you might find the forms at the county court clerk’s office, the district court clerk’s office or the circuit court clerk’s office. Just make a phone call to one of the above and you will soon be directed to the correct office.
If you and your spouse are communicating amicably, the next step is to negotiate a property settlement (assuming there are no children, which would require negotiating custody and visitation arrangements). Once you’ve come to an agreement, it’s time to fill out the forms with the details of your agreement.
You can choose to fill out the forms yourself, or take advantage of legal aid and low-cost paralegal services that are available in most communities. If you use one of these low-cost services, make sure you retain the right to edit and change the first draft of the divorce forms – it’s rare that it all comes out right the first time.
The next step is to file the completed documents with the appropriate court offices and pay the filing fees. By now, you should have figured out if you’re dealing with county, district or circuit court. If you’re broke and can prove it, you can request that the filing fees be waived by filling out another form, “In Forma Pauperis.”
Next is a very important step: service of process. If you know your estranged spouse’s address, have an adult friend hand deliver a copy of the completed forms to him or her personally. If you don’t know how to contact your spouse, you might be able to achieve the requirements of service by publishing a legal advertisement in a local newspaper serving the area where you or your spouse live. The requirements of service can vary from state to state, so check your packet of instructions to make sure you fulfill all requirements.
Before appearing in court, get prepared. If you’re summoning witnesses, talk to them by telephone and let them know when they’ll be expected to show up in court and what testimony they’ll be expected to provide. Practice what you’ll be saying in front of the judge.
If you’re appearing pro se in divorce court, get there early the day of the hearing and make sure you have at least three copies of any evidence you’re going to present (one for the judge, one for your spouse and one for yourself). It might be wise to attend someone else’s divorce hearing beforehand so you’ll know what to expect. Allow the judge to conduct the hearing; don’t try to take over. The judge or magistrate should always be addressed as “Your Honor.”
Don’t try to relive all your arguments in court. Present your case succinctly and unemotionally. If there has been infidelity in your marriage, it may or may not be relevant depending on the state where you live. Most divorces these days are granted on the simple contention that the marriage is irretrievable or that the two individuals have become incompatible.
Once the divorce is granted, try to live by the negotiated agreement you and your spouse accepted. That will help keep attorneys and courts out of your new life.