Four Questions You May Have When First Considering Divorce

7 February 2017
 Categories: Law, Blog


When the thought of potentially divorcing your spouse first comes to mind, the idea can be overwhelming. You're likely to feel a bit of guilt, anger, and frustration -- but underneath all that, you're certain to be a bit apprehensive. A lot of the apprehension typically comes from unanswered questions you may have about the divorce process and what divorcing your spouse will actually involve. Whether or not to go through with asking for a divorce is a very personal decision, but having the answers to these questions will help you make it from a more informed, logical standpoint.

Do you need a lawyer to file for divorce?

Technically, no; you do not need to have a lawyer in order to file for divorce. It is possible to file all of the paperwork yourself in what is known as a DIY divorce. However, in order to do this successfully, you and your spouse need to agree on how to divide your assets, who gets custody of children, and who will handle all debts. Most couples entering divorce are not amicable enough to make it through this process on their own, and so it is highly advised that you hire an attorney to represent you and your interests. If you and your spouse are rather agreeable but have a few differences, hiring a mediator to act as a go-between and help you solve minor issues is a good middle ground.

Does your spouse need to have done something wrong for you to file for divorce?

You may have heard that you can only file divorce for certain reasons -- such as if your spouse is abusive or is cheating on you. While this was true in many states in the past, all states now recognize what's known as a "no fault" divorce. This means that you can file for the divorce without having to prove that the other spouse did anything wrong. 

The laws surrounding no-fault divorces vary by state, and in some states, you must live in a separate home from your spouse for a specified period of time before filing. A local attorney can shed more light on the exact laws in your area.

How much will this cost?

The notion that divorce is expensive has kept many people in unhappy marriages. But it's important not to put a price tag on your happiness. If you must hire a lawyer to represent you, know that the average person pays $200 to $1,500 in lawyer's fees throughout the divorce process. If you're able to get through the process without a lot of argument, you'll likely pay a lot less. One option is to prepare the paperwork yourselves and then hire an attorney to look over it for you. This would cost about $250 to $450 an hour for a few hours' work.

Who will have to "move out?"

Sadly, there is no way to answer this question without knowing your situation. The answer truly is, "it depends." If both you and your spouse want to keep the house, a judge will have to consider your lifestyles and assets to decide who deserves it most. Usually, if one spouse is awarded custody of the kids, they will also get to keep the house since it's a more stable environment for the kids. When kids are not involved, the judge may consider each partner's income to determine who is better able to afford the mortgage payments. In many cases, the home will have to be sold and the proceeds split in order to ensure equal division of marital assets.

Filing for divorce is nerve wracking and emotional. Before you decide whether or not this is right for you, consider having at least a brief chat with a local divorce attorney to find out the answers to your more specific questions, or visit websites like for more information.