When Can I Divorce Without a Lawyer?

New Jersey does not require spouses to have a lawyer to get divorced. Anyone can get divorced without a lawyer. Nonetheless, the court will often recommend using a lawyer so you are aware of your legal rights and options.

Here are some of the times when you may be able to manage getting a divorce without a lawyer.

You Have No Children

Child custody and related issues are some of the most contentious legal matters resolved in the family courts. If you do not have children with your spouse, you two may be able to resolve remaining legal issues – such as property and debt division and spousal support – without the help of a lawyer.

You Have No Property

New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This means that when couples divorce, their property (and debt) is divided fairly between the spouses. If you and your spouse do not own any property together, the process may be much easier.

If you do own property together, you and your spouse can reach an agreement regarding how to divide property, such as:

  • Real estate
  • Retirement accounts
  • Checking accounts
  • Motor vehicles
  • Furniture
  • Jewelry
  • Tools of the trade
  • Personal effects

You Agree on the Terms of Your Divorce

If you and your spouse agree on the terms of divorce, you might be able to get a divorce without a lawyer. This is referred to as an “uncontested divorce” and is one of the easiest, simplest, and most affordable ways to get divorced.

Some of the legal issues you may need to reach an agreement on include:

  • Which parent will have primary custody of your child
  • The parenting plan for your child
  • Whether and how much spousal support to pay
  • How much child support to pay
  • How to split up your property and debt
  • How to divide retirement accounts
  • How to handle real property you and your spouse own together

You Can Use Alternatives to Get Divorced

Even if you and your spouse do not initially agree on the terms of your divorce, you may be able to reach an amicable settlement through alternatives, such as:

  • Civil communications between you and your spouse
  • Mediation in which a neutral third party helps you and your spouse work together to reach a settlement
  • The use of legal services to help you identify your legal rights and options and assist you with the filing of a pro se divorce case

Times to Consider Hiring a Lawyer

There are certain times when you might want to consider hiring a lawyer, such as:

  • There is a history of domestic violence against you or your child
  • You and your spouse have opposing ideas about child custody
  • You and your spouse own real estate, retirement accounts, or personal property of significant value and do not agree on how it should be divided
  • You, your spouse, or child receives public benefits and are concerned about how receiving spousal support or child support might affect those benefits

Contact us to find out if your situation is right for divorce without a lawyer.

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