In Arizona, a large percentage of divorces proceed without either party hiring a lawyer. As Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, couples do not need a specific reason to file for divorce – it is sufficient that the parties do not get along – otherwise known as irretrievable differences. While getting divorced without attorneys may be fine for some divorcing couples, it is a risk that you should not take – without, at least, consulting with an attorney who is skilled in this complex area of law. There are many risks along the way.
If the marriage has been short in duration, there are few marital assets, and there are no issues relating to child custody or child support, then a person may be able to represent him or herself. Maricopa County Superior Court has self-serve forms along with instructions that people can use at no cost. These are forms, so they do not fit every situation or set of circumstances and parties will still be responsible for court filing fees and serving the papers on the other party.
Divorces become complex when there are children, marital debt, a long marriage, or sole and separate property issues and then, you proceed without a lawyer at your own risk.
If any of these items are present in your situation, please see a qualified attorney. The consequences of not doing so may be severe.
Remember that if you choose to represent yourself, you are treated as if you know the law – and the rules for processing your case. There are many deadlines imposed by the rules – and if you miss a deadline, you may be excluded from further participation in your case – and then, you have limited opportunity to provide any information to the judge. And if a court appearance is scheduled and you do not appear, the case will likely proceed – and that may be the end of the case. And the excuse that you did not have a lawyer will probably not help.
While many couples can and do get divorced in Arizona without attorneys, spending a consultation fee to have an experienced family attorney review the divorce before it is finalized will be money well spent. The lawyer can identify if you have any issues in your case which require more exploration or attention.
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