The other day I had a client come in to see me about a divorce. He brought with him the Uncontested Divorce Form Packet and Instructions Packet from the New York Unified Court System. His estranged Wife had given him the packets and told him to figure out how to do their divorce. He wisely decided to hire an attorney rather than try to do their divorce himself.
After his consultation I looked through the packets. I have not seen these in a while so I looked to see how the forms reflected the many recent changes to New York's divorce laws.
Although I have been doing divorces for seventeen years, I must confess that I was confused by the forms and the instructions. They are not written well. I cannot imagine how difficult they must be for lay people to understand and complete properly.
Actually, I have some idea of what a lay person may feel when dealing with these forms. I spent four hours this past weekend trying to figure out how to get my DVR/cable box, Blu-Ray player and new television to work together. I had all the manuals for all three devices, but I might as well have been reading the French or Spanish language instructions because I could not get the whole system to work together. Fortunately, I have tech savvy friends who I eventually called. They quickly solved the problem.
This frustration must be so much worse when it is your marriage, your divorce and your life that you are dealing with, and you do not have experience working with the legal forms that must be prepared properly. If the forms are not filled out properly or the required forms are not submitted a divorce application must be rejected by a Court. This can prolong a simple uncontested divorce, even one with no assets and no children, by months. I have seen people who have spent most of a year trying to get divorced, but their papers kept getting rejected by the court as incomplete.
So although having an attorney for an uncontested divorce is not cheap, it is the smart way to go. Ultimately, an attorney can save you time and maybe even a lot of money in the long run.