Do I Need a Lawyer to Ask for a Divorce?

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Do I need a lawyer to ask for a divorce? 

You do not have to have a lawyer, but it's a good idea. A lawyer can tell you about your rights, the rules for asking for a divorce, and answer your questions about children, property, or your safety.

Talk to a lawyer if:

  • You have children,
  • You have significant assets or debt, such as a house, property, or retirement benefits,
  • You and your spouse disagree on how to handle the divorce,
  • You want to receive spousal maintenance or child support, or
  • You have any questions.

Important! No one at court can give you legal advice. That means you cannot ask the judge, clerks or other court staff for advice about your case. You must follow the same rules that lawyers follow. That can be very difficult.

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Where can I find a lawyer? 

To find a lawyer:

  • Look in the phone book under Attorneys,
  • Call your local bar association. Ask them for names and phone numbers of lawyers who handle divorce, or
  • Contact your local Kentucky legal services program to find out if they can help you.

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What if I can't afford a lawyer?

You may be able to:

  • Ask the court to order your spouse to pay your lawyer fees,
  • Hire a lawyer to help you with the more complicated parts of your case, and handle the rest yourself, or
  • Handle the divorce yourself.

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How do I handle the divorce without a lawyer?

The basic steps you would need to follow include:

  1. Fill out a divorce Petition and any other forms your court requires.
  2. File your divorce Petition at the clerk's office in the county where you live. Take 2 copies of your Petition with you. You will have to pay a fee to file your Petition, and another fee to have your spouse served (unless your spouse signs a Waiver of Service and Response agreeing not to be served.)
  3. Finalize your divorce. If you and your spouse agree on all issues, you can file your written Settlement Agreement. If you cannot agree, you can ask the court for a hearing.

See: Self-Help Divorce Forms

Caution! If you do not hire a lawyer, and you make a mistake, it could affect your children, your property and your income. If you cannot afford a lawyer, see: What if I can't afford a lawyer?

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Reviewed August 2009