Family Law

Is It Better To Get A Divorce Lawyer?

The answer is quite layered, as divorce proceedings are situational. Generally, the less you have to rely on the courts to resolve existing and surfacing issues, the more smoothly the divorce process will go. Therefore, is a divorce lawyer needed? A divorce lawyer has extensive knowledge of divorce proceedings and will carry you through with confidence. The following information will assist in making an informed and logical decision that is best for you.

Self-Represented Divorce Litigations: Are They Successful?

Over the years, there has been a steady increase in self-represented divorce litigations. According to the Self-Represented Litigation Network (SRLN), an estimated 46 million people are appearing in court to handle divorce proceedings. The courts consistently report that at least 75% or more of these cases are filed pro se (a divorce in which either one or both spouses choose to represent themselves). The reasons may vary as each divorce proceeding constitutes differing situations. Whether the divorcing couples want to save money or other factors play into their deciding nature of litigation, is success obtainable filing pro se? 

Pros And Cons Of Filing Pro Se: Everything You Need To Know

The American Psychological Organization poses a query that the unrepresented are being underestimated by detailing a few cognitive biases that cause disadvantages for pro se litigants. Therefore, there are varying pros and cons of being a pro se litigant. The cons of existing pro se divorce litigations profoundly outweigh the pros.  


  • Filing Pro Se Keeps Costs Down. If either one or both parties of the divorce cannot afford a lawyer, filing pro se is the only choice. The only fees to be accountable for are filing fees, court costs, printing and copying of the divorce papers, and service of process. Divorce proceedings handled by attorneys can be costly as they range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 
  • You And Your Spouse Can Amicably Work Together. If you and your spouse are able to work cordially together, obtaining an attorney may not be necessary. If the divorce consists of: no children, little to no property, or no significant debt, proceeding pro se is practical to work out the terms of your divorce without confrontation.


  • A Contested Divorce Can Be Extremely Problematic. A contested divorce consists of all major issues that need to be resolved during the divorce. For instance: child support, spousal support, division of assets and debts, child custody, and visitation. If the divorce has an aggregate amount of issues, the divorce will be deemed contested, and a trial could ensue. Each contested divorce is unique and can cause its own problems.
  • The Judge Will Not Assist You. If one or both spouses choose to represent themselves, the court will expect you to know and adhere to all state and local divorce laws and procedures. The judge will not help you with the paperwork of the divorce proceedings. If you are unsure how to fill out, serve the other party or have a fair judgement on the divorce terms in your favour, the judge will not oblige. Likewise, if the divorce goes to trial, the judge will not help with court procedures and evidence.
  • Judges Overall Dislike Presiding Over Pro Se Divorces. Judges perceive divorce cases that are pro se as slowing down the case. While you are given the right to represent yourself, judges frown upon pro se litigation as too time-consuming.
  • You Could Unknowingly Lose Money. Often, pro se litigants are unaware of pensions, the marital house, or other assets accumulated during the marriage that they are entitled to. As a pro se litigant without legal training, you will not know if you’re getting a bad deal.
  • Being a Pro Se litigant Requires A Lot of Research. In the act of representing yourself, you will need to research a host of issues required to know when going into the divorce proceeding, such as how much spousal support the judge typically rewards in your state and how long spousal support lasts, etc.

Is it better to get a divorce lawyer? The answer is yes. If you or your spouse decide to represent yourselves in the divorce, contemplate before committing to being a pro se litigant. According to an empirical study of divorce cases conducted by students at the Marquette University Law School, lawyers and judges are troubled by the influx of pro se litigants. An attorney will assist greatly in alleviating all legal bottlenecks and stressors placed upon soon-to-be divorcees. 

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