Achieving the Best Possible Outcomes in Legal Cases

When You Might Rely on a Lawyer to Help You File for a Divorce

by Maurice Carroll

In most areas, couples are allowed to file for a divorce on their own, without the help of a lawyer. This can certainly save them money, but it's not always the best choice. There may be delays in your paperwork and hearings if you don't file things properly or don't provide adequate proof of certain claims, and you may also be assuming you know how the law works in your case. Note a few times when it's better to rely on a lawyer to help you file for a divorce than try to go it on your own.

1. When you're still living under the same roof

Typically a couple need to be separated for a certain time before they can file for a divorce; courts usually stipulate this to cut down on the number of persons who file and then withdraw their request, as every filing means more paperwork for the court. However, note that being legally separated may not necessarily mean being physically separated. Very often you can live in the same home with your spouse and still qualify to file for a divorce, as long as you're living separate lives. If you're not sure of how this would work in your case, discuss your situation with an attorney and they can advise of how to claim separation even while still living together.

2. If you're on a temporary visa

Typically you need to be a citizen or permanent resident of the country in which you file for a divorce, but if you're there on a temporary visa, you may still be eligible to file. A lawyer can note your spouse's citizenship, time you've spent in the country, where your marriage took place, and any other details that might affect your application. Rather than assuming you need to file in your home country alone, discuss your options with an attorney.

3. If you're worried that your spouse might contest the divorce

Many areas allow for what is called a no-fault divorce, meaning that you don't need to show a reason for the divorce and that spouses may not somehow block the divorce from being granted. However, there may be questions about property division, paternity, if a different country should hear the divorce, or if you've been separated long enough to be granted a divorce. Your spouse may use these things to try to delay the divorce proceeding, so if they are resistant to the divorce at all, discuss your options and rights with an attorney.