Do I Need An Attorney For My Divorce?

Do I Need An Attorney For My Divorce?

April 09, 2020

Divorce is not pretty. It’s isolating, confusing, and charged with emotion. It’s a bad time to forgo the assistance of an expert.

But do you really need an attorney for your divorce? Don’t people get divorced all the time without the help of attorneys? Check out this blog on the value of an attorney in a child support case; many of the reasons apply to divorce cases as well (not to mention that child support is often an issue in a divorce). Or this article on North Dakota divorce questions.

There are a few things to consider as you approach the topic of hiring an attorney for your divorce:

You Have A Lot At Stake

Divorce encompasses a large variety of issues, all of which might have a huge impact on your life. Alimony, custody, child support, retirement savings, real estate, vehicles, credit card debt, student loans, tax filings, name changes, and insurance are a few of the areas implicated in a divorce, and any one of these can fundamentally alter the course of your life. Why take a risk with your future when there are seasoned professionals to carefully guide you? You wouldn’t pilot your own flight on vacation, and you wouldn’t perform your own surgery. Don’t get a divorce without an expert.

My Friend Got A Divorce Without An Attorney. Why Can’t I?

With the divorce rate in the U.S. falling between 40-50 percent, you’ve probably had quite a few friends and family members sever their matrimonial ties. Perhaps you’ve seen some of them go through the process without an attorney, and it seemed like it went ok. So, why wouldn’t that work for you?

Silent Regret

You don’t know if your acquaintance regrets not hiring an attorney. People very often don’t openly criticize their own poor decisions. But family law attorneys get quite a few divorcées seeking to fix problems caused by their self-represented divorce.


Your friend probably doesn’t know he/she got a bad deal. Who would know, and who would tell him/her? A person can be ignorantly happy with what is an objectively bad deal. Your friend might not know that he/she should have gotten half of the spouse’s pension, or that his/her alimony can be modified in the future, or that the other spouse’s parenting time could have been restricted for things like drinking excessively or living with questionable roommates.

Different Situation

No two divorces are the same. What worked for your friend might not work for you. Your divorce might involve complexities that weren’t an issue for another person, like an unfit parent, an angry or combative spouse, self-employment or “cash” income, assets held in a trust, military benefits, farmland, inheritances, domestic violence, etc.

Won’t Hiring An Attorney Make Divorce More Complicated And Increase The Conflict Between My Spouse And I?

Not with a good attorney. Your lawyer should be an advocate for your goals, not a senseless mercenary. Your attorney should find the best avenue to your objective with as little hostility and expense as possible. An overlooked benefit of a good attorney is that they often resolve or decrease conflict, not increase it.

If your goal can be accomplished through settlement, an attorney should help you discover that goal and navigate you skillfully and creatively through it. If settlement isn’t possible, or won’t give you a result you’re happy with, your attorney should advocate for you fiercely at trial but only to the extent necessary.

Keep in mind that you might not have to tell your spouse that you have an attorney. Your lawyer might be able to work behind the scenes advising you on the law, helping you negotiate, informing you of important issues, strategizing with you, drafting documents for you, or otherwise being the “unseen” proponent for your case. If you feel that the other parent will fly off the handle, or shut down completely, upon learning that you’ve hired an attorney, then talk about that with your lawyer. He or she might be able to find a way to resolve your case without ever making his/her presence known.

An Advocate And An Ally

Divorces are intensely emotional. It’s incredibly difficult to sort through the complexity of divorce while reeling from the mental and emotional strain often associated with it. Would you trust yourself to see things clearly, or make good decisions, in the chaos of your grief, anger, despair, shock, pain, etc.? Having an approachable, experienced, and objective advocate by your side can help you evaluate your options fully and clearly and to choose your future wisely. There’s no reason to forgo the expertise and support available from a family law attorney in the midst of the most important decisions of your life.

To speak with an attorney about your divorce case, call the SW&L family law team at 701-297-2890 or email via the contact form below.

The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely on the information on this website as legal advice.