Do You Need to Have an Attorney to Get Divorced in Florida?

Wed, Jan 20, 2016

Family Law

5833075685_f5e67947dc_bLuckily, no, you don’t need an attorney to get divorced in Florida. Is it a good idea to have one? Oh yes, it’s a great idea. You don’t want to leave something this important to chance, luck, and self-representation.

That’s because getting divorced can be one of the most harrowing situations of your life. This is especially true if children and property are involved. Dividing the life you built with someone else is something you wouldn’t wish on anyone. The nuances of the personal circumstances and emotional makeup of you and your spouse’s relationship will affect how it goes.

Not having an attorney in some divorces would be like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Make sure you are prepared and get representation if you need it or even if you suspect you will. Many attorneys will do a consultation by the hour, too, if there is any question.

If you decide to divorce without an attorney, there are still rules you need to follow. However, you will be doing the procedures and paperwork yourself, without much guidance. The Florida courts have a website that helps those divorcing in each circuit court. Sarasota’s website, the 12th Circuit Court, is https://www.jud12.flcourts.org/ProgramsServices/FamilyInformation/ProSeForms.aspx.

There, you will find the forms needed to file for divorce and some of the procedures to follow. There is a review process that the court has that will check over your forms, but they won’t be advising you on the decisions you and your spouse are making.

Sometimes couples work with a mediator instead of a lawyer, or with a lawyer’s help. That is a great idea for those issues you don’t agree on. Mediators can be used to decide even small parts of a divorce. So, don’t feel like you don’t have anyone to turn to if you decide to go it alone. In addition, you can hire an attorney at any point in the process—whether your spouse wants to or not. Don’t let a spouse bully you into not using an attorney if you want to use one. You can get one even if they don’t.

Let’s say that you do decide to use an attorney:  Can you and your spouse share one to cut down on expenses? Sadly, no. You each need your own representation to know that you are getting the advice that is best for you from the attorney that has been hired to represent you.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith, Sr. is designated a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer by the American Board of Certification.  SmithLaw is located in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  Attorney Smith concentrates on bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, family law, estate planning, real estate, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.  Call 941-202-2222 to learn more.  SmithLaw offers free consultations in certain areas, including consumer bankruptcy, probate, and personal injury matters.

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