Can you get a divorce without a lawyer?

Woman sitting at a table with a gavel The short answer is yes, you can get a divorce without a lawyer.  In fact, most people are surprised to learn that there is not any aspect of family court in the state of New Jersey that requires you to have an attorney. Getting a divorce without a lawyer may be permitted, but it’s not always the best course of action.

Can you divorce without going to court? 

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, even in uncontested matters, there was at least one in-person court appearance required. Certain counties are presently allowing for that appearance to be substituted by a virtual court appearance. However, it is safe to assume that even when all of the issues are resolved, there will be at least one court appearance required.

Can you get a divorce online?

No, you cannot get a divorce online. Do not be fooled by the online divorce advertisements. Be wary of these ads, as they are often misleading. 

Do I need a divorce lawyer if we agree on everything? 

You do not need a lawyer to get a divorce, whether you agree on everything or nothing at all.

Can I get a divorce without my spouse knowing? 

No, the law requires notice to your spouse. However, your spouse does not have to consent. Even if your spouse does not want a divorce, you can obtain a divorce in the state of New Jersey over your spouse’s objection.

Do I need a lawyer for divorce mediation? 

No, you do not need a lawyer for divorce mediation. Two parties can attend mediation with a mediator unrepresented by counsel. 

Can I go through a divorce without a lawyer if we don’t agree on spousal support? 

Yes, you can get a divorce without a lawyer if you don’t agree on spousal support. However if you do not reach an agreement, the court will have to make a decision for you.

Potential challenges of going through a divorce without a lawyer

It is difficult at times to appropriately address the issues that have to be resolved in order to move forward with a divorce, especially if you are attempting to reach a settlement and both parties are unrepresented by counsel. Even if one party is represented by counsel, this can create a difficult situation for the unrepresented party.

Without an attorney, you run the risk of incorrect documentation and paperwork. While the court does not require attorneys, the parties are still expected to be able to adhere to the court rules and procedural requirements.

Should I get a divorce attorney? 

Possible post-divorce issues resulting from poorly drafted agreements can create difficulty for the parties in the future. Working with attorneys can avoid some of those obstacles that might occur going forward. One of the benefits of being represented by counsel is that attorneys are prepared to address all of the issues in a settlement agreement comprehensively that might be an issue both before and after a divorce.

If you are determined to represent yourself, at least consult with a divorce attorney so that you understand your rights. Familiarize yourself with online resources that could aid you in the divorce process. But also understand that there is a distinction between legal assistance and legal representation. If you are self represented, there will be an expectation that you will be able to proceed on your own behalf. 

If you are considering divorce without a lawyer, because you are concerned about the cost of obtaining a divorce attorney, there are also resources available such as legal aid organizations that may be able to help.

Here at DeTorres and DeGeorge Family Law, divorce lawyers in New Jersey, we pride ourselves on ensuring that we represent our clients zealously and advocate for their rights under the most difficult circumstances. If you want to know if you can get a divorce without a lawyer,  first contact us for a consultation. We are here to help.


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