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Can You Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer?

April 6, 2023

The short answer is yes, you can get a divorce without a lawyer. However, there are many things to consider before you try a do-it-yourself divorce. 

Whether you are thinking of going pro se (a legal term that means representing oneself) to save money or for a different reason, you need to consider some important issues before deciding to go alone.

Some of the things you syould consider are asset distribution, will the divorce be  contested, custody arrangements, and court fees and proceedings. Perhaps the most important issue is, are you abile to understand and follow the courts rules and the law without any help? Are you ready to handle everything? If you are, then you should follow these steps.

Steps to Get a Divorce Without an Attorney

  1. Obtain dissolution packets from the court

The Missouri Courts provide dissolution packets for free and can be found on line.   Unfortunately the Court and its employees cannot help you determine which forms to use, fill out said forms, understand what they mean or are asking from you, or correct incorrectly filled out forms.  Doing so would be the unauthorized practice of law.

  1. File the Petition at the Court

  2. You must then file the completed documents with the Court, pay the correct filing fees, and hope you filled them out correctly and didn’t make a mistake that will doom your lawsuit.   Serve Court Summons and Divorce Papers

Once you have filed the petition, you have to  ensure that your spouse gets the divorce papers and court Summons in the proper time.  Failure to follow the Court Rules on service means that your case will not go anywhere and will eventually be dismissed for lack of service.

  1. Find mediation

  In Missouri the Local Courts often require mediation in family court matters.  This is generally a good thing and often leads to quicker resolution of the case.  You may be required to find and complete mediation in your case.

  1. Wait

The divorce application must wait at least 30 days from the date of service before the Court can make a decision in your case even if the case is uncontested.   Contested cases and those whose documents have not been completed correctly will take much longer.  

  1. Attend court hearings

The judge makes the final decision on asset division, child custody, spousal support, and child support, among other matters, at these hearings. Be present.  Failing to appear at a court hearing when you are unrepresented can result in your losing, the case being dismissed, and possibly other sanctions.  

Why do People Prefer Hiring a Lawyer in a Divorce?

People hire attorneys because their case is complex, their spouse will not cooperate, they cannot come to an acceptable agreement with their spouse, or they simply want it done right the first time without any undue delay.

Using a skilled and compassionate lawyer to help you through a divorce removes some of the stress and frustration of an emotionally draining experience.  The Hardin Law Firm is experienced in handling divorce in Missouri law, and we can help ensure your rights, possessions, and time with your children are protected during a difficult time.  

Consider hiring a divorce attorney if you feel overwhelmed. A do-it-yourself divorce can have dangerous and far-reaching consequences especially if you have children or significant assets.