When considering a divorce, it is important to know the options that are available to you. If you’re asking yourself if you need a lawyer to file for divorce in Minnesota, the answer depends on your situation. It could be “no,” but possibly “yes.”
No: Do-It-Yourself Divorce
Do-it-yourself divorce — where spouses represent themselves in divorce proceedings — is becoming increasingly popular across the U.S., as many people cannot afford hourly family law attorney rates. However, do to the lack of legal knowledge needed, self-representation is not recommended for certain divorce types, such as those where spouses do not agree on divorce issues. Do-it-yourself divorce may be a viable option if both you and your spouse do agree on divorce issues (uncontested divorce process), which is often much lower of a cost than in cases of dispute.
Yes: Divorce by Trial
As mentioned, certain divorce types are simply too complicated and involve too many assets to go well for a spouse representing themselves. Without having the legal knowledge and knowing and ins and outs of the system, a spouse could very well lose a significant portion of their assets, and even worse, make a mistake that leads to reduced or no rights to their own child. As such, whenever a divorce is going to trial, it is recommended that spouses seek the professional council of an experienced attorney. Such an attorney can help guide them and decide the best course of action for their situation.
There are a few other solutions which may preferable for someone who cannot pay the full fees to have a lawyer: limited scope representation and mediation.
Limited Scope Representation. This is where a client can pay a set fee for specific legal advice and even document drafting. However, this still means that the spouse needs to self-represent themselves in court. It’s a good option for those who don’t have extra money to spend, but still need a little guidance and certain documents to fit the circumstances before appearing in court.
Mediation. Minnesota requires couples seeking a divorce (without a history of domestic violence) to use mediation services prior to finalization. Mediators help the spouses to come to agreements on ongoing issues. While not legally binding, mediation would allow for spouses to come to agreements faster, thus allowing them to possibly represent themselves without the further help of an attorney. Plus, on average, mediation is 20-50 percent cheaper than a traditional divorce.
Whether self-representing or seeking help, contested or uncontested, there is a lot of information you need to know, no matter which choice you make. To find out more details which may be pertinent to your case, look at the Minnesota Courts website and at the Family Law self-help center. Here are some useful links you may need: