What's the first steps to filing for divorce without using an attorney?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Naperville, IL

We don't have any money saved, my husband got fired from his job, and my husband has moved out. Our biggest assets are the house, his motorcycle, and his 401(k). We owe on the house and our car. If we come to an agreement on the division of our properties, what's the simpliest, least expensive way to file for divorce? When my husband was working, he had a good job. I'd like for him to pay child support once he finds a new job. What should I do first?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Gary L. Schlesinger

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . the steps are the same whether you have an attorney or not.

    do a petition to dissolve the marriage. both of you go to the parenting class. do a parenting agreement. do a property settlement agreement. do a judgment of dissolution. set the court date. attend it. ask the right questions. answer them correctly. pay the court reporter. get the judgment signed.

    then, do the clean up work. transfer title to the house, need a deed, and bike. do a qualified domestic relations order for the 401k,

    do a support order and a notice to withhold income for support for the child support.

    those are all the steps.

    i cannot tell you on this web site how to do my job and do it correctly. you cannot tell me on this site how to do your job and do it correctly. you are so much better off hiring a lawyer to do this correctly for you.

    would you do your own surgery or surgery on your child with instructions from anonymous people on a web site?

    i have been doing this for over 40 years. i do many of these each year. i know how to do all of the above steps correctly. this will be your first and perhaps only divorce. why screw it up by doing it yourself?

  2. Jeffrey Morris Jacobson

    Contributor Level 13


    Lawyer agrees


    Answered . I will assume you are correct and can't afford an attorney. In DuPage you should contact the DuPage legal foundation. They MAY be able to supply you with an attorney. Also, there are other great organizations that may be able to help you. From pro bono advocates to Chicago Volunteer Lawyers program. Therefore, your first step is to call the bar association in your area and ask them about free legal help, or the places I mentioned.

    Good luck in your search


  3. Judy A. Goldstein

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . What should you do first? The first step is to go to a law library and learn what we divorce attorneys do. Study all the pertinent statutes and learn to be a divorce attorney.. Then file a Petition for Dissolution or Marriage. Prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement and a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. Later on, be prepared to return to court with an attorney to fix the mess you have brought upon yourself because you didn't properly address the issues of the 401(k) disbursement, title to the bike or the home, your mortgage, etc. What you will pay the attorney to fix what was done incorrectly will far outweigh the cost of hiring an attorney to get it right for you from the beginning. In other words, unless you are a licensed attorney, let us do the job for you. In the long run, it will cost you less and it will get done correctly the first time.

    Fixing what lay people have messed up is, sadly, a large part of how many of us make our livings.

Related Topics


Divorce is the process of formally ending a marriage. Divorces may be jointly agreed upon, resolved by negotiation, or decided in court.

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