Can I Represent Myself in a Divorce Proceeding?
Do You Need an Attorney in a Divorce Proceeding?
If you and your spouse have concluded that your marriage is over and you have no children or other issues in dispute, or you don’t believe you can afford a lawyer, should you simply represent yourself in the divorce process? Under New Jersey law, you are not required to have counsel in a legal proceeding. However, there is an old adage in the law that the person who represents himself “has a fool for a client.” What benefits can an attorney bring, especially when your divorce is essentially uncontested?
Representing Yourself in a Divorce Proceeding
In most cases, if you choose to represent yourself in a divorce proceeding, you must either be willing to take on significant responsibility or be willing to accept the decisions of your ex-spouse. Even the simplest divorce requires that one party file a complaint in Court, stating the grounds for divorce and the requested relief. If you have children and need to establish child custody and visitation or child support, the matter can quickly become overwhelming. If there is property with both parties on the title, the steps necessary to convey that property to one party will likely be unfamiliar and confusing.
Typically, the only way that representing yourself won’t be detrimental to you is when your ex-spouse is unrepresented and has agreed to an uncontested divorce. Even then, there will likely be issues in dispute. After all, if you had the ability to work amicably with your ex-spouse, you probably wouldn’t be getting a divorce. If your ex-spouse is represented by counsel, you will find it extremely challenging to resolve matters in any way other than the way your ex-spouse wants.
In all divorce proceedings other than those in which there are no children and no property, you will have to:
- Collect all financial information, including records regarding property owned, salaries and income, investments, bank accounts, insurance and debts
- Be prepared to submit to a child custody evaluation if you cannot agree on the terms of custody or visitation
- Prepare and file all documents related to the divorce, including the complaint, response and judgment of divorce
- Appear in front of a Judge at all scheduled hearings or proceedings
Contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates
At Lyons & Associates, we bring a high level of personalized service and attention to men and women in New Jersey. To schedule an appointment, contact us online or call our office at 908-575-9777.