Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Get a Divorce?

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Get a Divorce?

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Get a Divorce?

Divorce is often a mutual decision. Both sides realize that the marriage is no longer working for either of them, and they just want to bring things to a conclusion without the need for extended litigation. If that describes your own situation, you may even wonder if it is necessary to hire an attorney at all.

There are, in fact, many people who go through a divorce without an attorney. But as with any complex legal process, there are certain risks that go with doing things on your own. Some couples start out trying to handle their own divorce only to quickly realize they need professional legal advice. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to hire an Illinois divorce lawyer.

Do You and Your Spouse Agree on the Key Terms of Your Divorce?

A divorce is not simply deciding that you no longer wish to live with your spouse and moving out of the house. There are a number of legal issues that need to be resolved before an Illinois judge can grant a dissolution of your marriage. Among the key issues:

  • Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce. Illinois law does not require either spouse to accuse the other of wrongdoing in order to obtain a divorce. Either or both spouses can file for a “no-fault” divorce based on “irreconcilable differences.” If either spouse wishes to seek a divorce based on fault, such as adultery, that can mean litigating the matter in court.
  • Child Custody and Child Support. If you and your spouse have minor children together, a court will need to approve a parenting plan regarding custody, visitation, and support. If parents agree on these matters, they can submit a joint parenting plan to the court. Otherwise, a judge will have to decide what arrangements will be in the child’s best interests.
  • Division of Property. Any property acquired by you and your spouse during the marriage is considered marital property and must be divided upon the dissolution of the marriage. If you have an especially complex property situation, such as a family business, it may be necessary to have a professional appraisal.
  • Alimony. Spousal maintenance–the term Illinois uses for alimony–is not always necessary in a divorce. If both spouses are financially self-supporting, neither may even seek maintenance. But if one spouse is at a financial disadvantage in a divorce, the parties will either need to agree on a schedule for maintenance payments or have a judge decide.

Basically, the fewer of these issues that you need to deal with in your divorce, the more likely you are to succeed without an attorney. So, if you and your spouse were only married a short time, have no children, and acquired no property together, you could achieve a no-fault divorce without professional assistance. And even if you disagree on some points, there are options such as mediation and collaborative divorce that can provide a more informal process for working through these matters.


There are also some situations where you should always consult with an attorney, such as when your spouse has already hired their own lawyer or when there has been a history of domestic violence or abuse in the marriage. But if you just want to consult with an experienced Illinois divorce lawyer and ask a few basic questions about what steps to take next, contact SAM LAW OFFICE LLC today to schedule an initial consultation.





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