Do I Need an Attorney for a Divorce?

Divorce can be an incredibly stressful event to go through. If you’re thinking about dissolving your marriage, you may be wondering whether you will be legally required to hire an attorney in order to obtain a divorce. 

The short answer is: no, there is no legal requirement to hire representation. There are, however, countless reasons that hiring a divorce attorney is a sensible (and, in some cases, critical) investment to your well-being going forward. At Warren Allen we’re experts in family law and we know how complicated divorce can be. 

Below are a few of the most significant reasons you may want to hire an attorney for your divorce:

Representing Yourself Can Be Difficult

If your divorce is an amicable one, you may wish to save yourself the expense of hiring an attorney. In that case, you can simply file a summary dissolution form. 

In Oregon, the summary dissolution forms are available here on the Judicial Department’s website, which can save you some money up front. This could amount to a sizable savings for many people. Consider, though, that the more you have to protect, the riskier self-representation will be. 

Family law is complicated. If you share property with your spouse or you have assets you want to protect, legal representation is crucial to securing your future. The best candidates for self-representation have few assets, no children, and relatively little conflict over the decision to divorce. If this is your situation, a summary dissolution may be the right choice for you. 

However, even if this is the case you should still have an attorney look over your paperwork before you submit it. Once a final court order is filed, it is exceptionally difficult to alter.

This Is a Vulnerable Time

Emotions run the gamut during a divorce. Those intense emotions can make it difficult to see things clearly. When you hire a divorce attorney, you hire an advocate. Your attorney is in your corner – what’s important to you is important to them. 

You may feel rushed to settle. It’s normal to want to conclude your divorce as quickly as possible, but in doing so, you may make decisions that will adversely affect your life for years to come. An attorney can be a great resource in these situations. They will be able to take a sober and realistic look at your long-term welfare and take the time to negotiate a fair settlement.

A divorce lawyer will give you access to solutions and options you may not be aware of. Experts in family law are skilled in negotiating the best possible outcome for you and they can do so without the emotional attachment to your situation that you can’t help but experience yourself. When tensions are high, having an advocate with a bounty of knowledge and skill at their disposal can take a lot of weight off of your shoulders.

You Have Children

The need to create a shared custody agreement is one of the most important steps in a divorce involving minor children. If you have a child with your ex, hiring an attorney is imperative. Custody agreements are complex and for the parent, they are emotionally loaded. Each visit, each holiday or birthday needs to be negotiated in advance. A family law expert with experience in custody agreements will provide you with the best possible outcome.

If you have children and are on good terms with your soon-to-be ex, you are legally entitled to arrange your own custody agreement. However, it’s absolutely crucial to consider the fact that your relationship with your ex may become strained or even hostile over time. 

The co-parenting relationship you have today will not necessarily stay the same as your lives start to take separate paths. If your relationship sours and you don’t have a fully-articulated parenting arrangement filed with the court, you could risk losing custody or visitation with your children. Your relationship with your children is too important to leave unsecured.


Above are just a few of the reasons you may be better off hiring a divorce attorney than representing yourself. If you are hesitant to hire a lawyer, it may be due to the cost. It’s important to know that many attorneys offer payment plans. Outside of that, you may end up spending a lot more in the long term if you are unable to negotiate a fair settlement for yourself. In other words, there is a good chance that not hiring an attorney will ultimately cost more than hiring one.

It’s tempting to take free advice during a divorce. Family and friends weigh in with their own experiences. Plus, you have the internet at your disposal with plenty of websites offering dubious facts. So many people have experienced divorce, and it’s sometimes easy to confuse experience with expertise. 

You wouldn’t go to the web or your friends for advice on performing your own surgery, so don’t make the same mistake with legal misinformation. There is a reason that family law becomes the life work of so many lawyers; it’s in depth, complex, and unique to each individual scenario.

If you decide to hire an attorney, make sure to do your research. Check the Oregon State Bar to make sure any attorney you’re considering is in good standing. Find a few attorneys within your price range and meet with them. A good family lawyer will make you feel comfortable and listen to your needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You may want to know how many cases like yours they’ve handled. Or you may want to ask how successful they’ve been for their clients overall. Whatever questions you have, you should hire an attorney that can explain the answers clearly and walk you through the process.If you live in Oregon and you need help with a divorce, the attorneys at Warren Allen LLP are equipped with the practical skills you need. You can contact them at any time and they’ll be happy to answer your questions.

One thought on “Do I Need an Attorney for a Divorce?

  1. During a divorce, resist the urge to take advantage of free counsel. The opinions of members of the family and close acquaintances are considered. In addition to this, you have access to the internet, which has a wealth of websites that provide questionable information. Due to the high number of individuals who have been through a divorce, it is often simple to mix experience with knowledge.

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