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Do I Need An Attorney for My Divorce?

Posted by Corrie Sirkin | Aug 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

Do I Need an Attorney for My Divorce? 

If you answer yes, to all ten questions below; then, you may not need to hire an attorney for your divorce. 

  1. Were you married for a short period of time? 
    • If you were married for a short term (ie: between a few months to a year or two), there may not be significant assets for equitable distribution; therefore, you may be able to divorce without an attorney.
  2. Do you not have children?
    • If you do not have children; then, it is easier to get divorced without an attorney. In Virginia if you do not have children of the marriage and have an agreement; then, you may be able to get divorced after separating for only six months.
  3. If you do have children, do you have an agreed or adjudicated custody and parenting time schedule and child support amount already and neither party wishes to make changes?
    • If you do have children, but have already agreed or adjudicated a custody and parenting time schedule and child support amount already; then, you may not need to hire an attorney for a divorce. If either of you dispute custody, parenting time, or child support going forward; then, you may need an attorney. 
  4. Are you claiming any fault or requesting an annulment?
    • If you are asking for a no fault, uncontested divorce where both you and your spouse agree on no fault grounds; then, you may not need an attorney for your divorce. If you want to move forward with a claim for adultery, sodomy, buggery, felony conviction, willful desertion or abandonment, cruelty, or are requesting an annulment; then, you will probably need an attorney to assist you with pleading the grounds properly as well as the standards of proof for these allegations.
  5. You do not own any real estate or vehicles together?
    • If you do not own or rent any real estate together; then, you may not need need to hire an attorney. However, even if your name is not on the property, you may be entitled to some portion of the equity in real estate or vehicles. If you are not sure; then, you should obtain legal advice.
  6. Do either you or your spouse have a business or own part of a business?
    • If neither you nor your spouse own a business or any part of a business; then, you may not need an attorney for your divorce. The value and income of businesses are difficult to ascertain and the services of an attorney and business evaluator may be required.
  7. Do you and your spouse earn about the same amount of income and have the same earning capacity and neither are requesting spousal support?
    • If you and your spouse earn about the same amount of income including bonuses and perquisites and both have the same earning capacity or potential; then, you may not need an attorney for your divorce.
  8. Do you and your spouse have approximately the same amount of retirement earned during the marriage and neither are asking for equitable distribution of these assets?
    • If both parties have worked or have saved and have approximately the same amount of retirement including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457(b)s, IRAs, SEPS, pensions, TSPs, ESOPs, PSPs, HSAs, annuities, or similar earned during the marriage and do not want any distribution from the other party; then, you may not need an attorney for your divorce. However, even small amounts can have large values in the future.  If you were entitled to $200 in a government pension because of the marriage; that pension not including cost of living increases could be worth over $60,000 in payments if you lived for twenty five years past retirement.
  9. Do you and your spouse have approximately the same amount in stocks, bonds, securities earned during the marriage and neither are asking for equitable distribution of these assets?
    • If both parties have approximately the same amount in stocks, bonds, securities earned during the marriage and neither are asking for equitable distribution of these assets; then, an attorney may not be necessary.
  10. Are you are good with paperwork and willing to take multiple trips to Court to file or refile paperwork with the Court?
    • If you are good with paperwork and willing to take time from work to make multiple trips to Court to file or refile paperwork; then, an attorney may not be necessary.  I frequently have consultations with people who filled out paperwork online and filed it with the Court only to have that paperwork rejected for a myriad of reasons. Neither the law clerk nor the court staff are allowed to give you legal advice. They will try to guide you within the confines of this limit, but, often times people will need to resubmit their documents multiple times before they are accepted. I have also had many clients who eventually hired me to complete their paperwork because they could not figure out the legal requirements or problems were with their documents.

 Even if you can answer yes to all ten of the questions above, your divorce will probably be faster, fairer, and better if you hire an attorney to guide you and process the paperwork for you.

About the Author

Corrie Sirkin

Corrie Sirkin is a conscientious, energetic, smart and capable attorney. Corrie Sirkin has practiced family law exclusively throughout her career. She provides experienced services in areas of family law which include divorce, child custody, visitation, paternity, child support, equitable distrib...

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