How to divorce without a lawyer

No one wants to get a divorce. Sometimes there are no other alternatives. A divorce can be costly with all the attorney fees involved. You can save some money and do away without a lawyer by doing it all yourself. Read on to learn how to divorce without a lawyer.

Contact your local clerk of courts office. The people in this office will explain what you will need to file your own divorce paperwork. You may be told you can not file on your own. This is not true. Each jurisdiction is different when filing a divorce. You will need to ask what paperwork must be included in the divorce decree. Ask about filing fees. There is always a filing fee for a divorce. You can make a plea of indigent to the court so the fee or part of the fee is waived. Many times the courts will allow you to make payments for the filing fees.

Locate generic divorce forms at the local library or on the Internet. There are also do-it-yourself divorce kits available at most bookstores. Note: Many of the packaged forms do not include all the paperwork necessary. The local clerk of courts can assist in this matter. The forms you can find on the Internet or library are fill in the blank types of forms. You can add to these papers as you need to or omit items that do not pertain to you and your spouse.

Contact the local Bureau of Support if there are minor children involved. There are certain forms you will need from the support bureau which are filed with the divorce petition. These forms may need to be filed prior to the divorce petition if you are seeking child support before the divorce is granted.

Type up or print out the divorce petition. The wording is important in this step. You do not want to leave any important requests out of the petition. The divorce petition is not a place to become nasty and point fingers. The divorce petition must be worded in a respectful manner. You will need to include property division, financial responsibility of certain bills, alimony or child support, and visitation of children, among other things.

Make three copies of the divorce petition. There is one for you, one for the courts and one for your spouse. You will need to take these copies with you to the clerk of court's office to file.

File the copies of the divorce petition with the clerk of court's office. The people in the office will date stamp the paperwork. The petition will then go before a judge for review.

Wait for the judge to review the divorce petition. This can take a few hours to a few days. Keep checking with the clerk's office to determine if your petition was accepted.

Revise the divorce petition as the judge set forth in the paperwork. Most of the time, if your wording is clear and everything has been disclosed properly, the petition is accepted without any changes necessary.

Wait for a hearing date. It depends on how backlogged the courts are as to when you will get a hearing scheduled. There is a time limit for the courts to hear your petition. Check with the clerk's office to determine how long the courts have to schedule the hearing. If you have not heard anything from the courts and the time frame is almost up, it is best to call the clerk's office to find out when the hearing might be scheduled.

Go to court on time. Do not be late for the divorce hearing.

Address the court with respect. You will have to plead your case. This is not a time to point fingers. Start by stating your name and profession. You must then tell the judge why you are in the courtroom. You can say something like, "I am here today to request a divorce decree in the matter of (state your name and the name of your spouse)."

State the names and ages of any minor children involved. You can state it in this manner, "There are two minor children as a result of this union, Steven Michael, age seven, and Jordan Lewis, age nine." You should also state who has the temporary custody of these children so the courts know who the children are living with at the time.

Respectfully request the courts review the divorce petition and grant the divorce decree.

Answer any questions the judge may ask with complete honesty and disclosure. You do not want to hide anything from the courts. Hiding something could jeopardise the divorce being granted.

Speak only the facts about the marriage union. The hearing is not the place to air the dirty laundry. If the judge asks about certain aspects, then answer truthfully. Do not point fingers or sling mud. The hearing should not take more than a few minutes if the parties are all in agreement with the articles written in the divorce petition.

Wait for the courts to deliver your final paperwork. The final divorce papers may be handed to you at the end of the hearing. They may be mailed to you at the address listed on the divorce petition. Keep the final paperwork for your records.


Dress in a proper manner when going to court. You are representing yourself. Always address the judge with the utmost respect.


Do not be late for your court hearing. It could be cancelled, postponed or you may have to refile.

Things You'll Need

  • Local clerk of court phone number
  • Divorce paperwork
  • Access to Internet (optional)
  • Filing fee
  • Local child support phone number (if applicable)
  • Computer/printer or typewriter
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About the Author

Julie Richards is a freelance writer from Ohio. She has been writing poetry and short stories for over 30 years, and published a variety of e-books and articles on gardening, small business and farming. She is currently enrolled at Kent State University completing her bachelor's degree in English.