Divorce in NY: Do You Really Need An Attorney?

Some couples read about uncontested divorce (“no fault” divorce, available as an option in NY beginning in October 2010 for marriages over six months) and wonder if they can pursue a friendly, amicable no-fault divorce just by downloading the Uncontested Divorce Packet and filling it out without a lawyer. While this is certainly possible, there are many reasons both spouses might want an attorney to advise them, even if their divorce is uncontested and amicable. Alternatively, a couple may wish to conduct their divorce through an experienced divorce mediator who will be familiar with the issues that need to be addressed in any divorce and who can help the couple reach agreement in the privacy of an office in a safe environment.

Attorneys and Uncontested Divorce in NY

Even if you and your spouse are approaching divorce cooperatively and have relatively few complicating factors, an attorney should be consulted by both separating partners for a wide variety of reasons:

  • Understanding all legal terms and procedures: The courts often use different definitions of terms than you might expect.
  • Guidance as to the proper filling out of forms – and the proper filing of forms.
  • Advice concerning how an amicable uncontested divorce in NY does not mean you automatically agree to every suggestion made by the other spouse.
  • Uncontested divorces typically require a separation agreement to be submitted to the court detailing the division of property and other resolution of issues (custody, etc.). This document should be reviewed by an attorney before being submitted to the courts.
  • You and your spouse may forget to address very important issues such as medical insurance, the division of retirement assets, separate/marital property claims, tax issues.

Attorneys and Divorce for Grounds

If the divorce is contested or if specific issues cannot be agreed-upon, both spouses should retain attorneys to advise them in resolving issues and going through the court procedures. Even practicing attorneys typically retain a lawyer to advise them as objectivity is crucial to surviving the divorce process. Even if you have been through a divorce before it is always a good idea to have a professional who is versed in current divorce law to assist you in the process.