I am getting divorced after 2 years of marriage. It is an uncontested divorce with no kids, and no property or debt. My friend said that she filed for divorce "on her own" without a lawyer.
My question is: Could I file "my own" divorce paperwork in Forsyth County, Georgia? And, for a the final decree, is there a "court appearance" or will the judge just sign it in his chambers without an appearance?
You are not required to have a lawyer in such a case, but going forward without a lawyer means that you must perform like a lawyer. While it does sound like you have a simple/non-complex case, you still want this to be done right and as quickly as possible. AN uncontested case is one where both parties sign off on a settlement agreement that addresses all of the issues in the divorce case. Have you and he discussed these things and is he in agreement to sign? In a case with no lawyer, yes, the judge will most likely require a final hearing before signing off on the final order. With a lawyer, most judges will grant the divorce without a hearing. If nothing else, you should at least consult with a lawyer to review and help draft the paper work necessary.
You can file the documents by yourself, it is not illegal. However, by filing the documents, you are telling the court that you have the knowledge of the law and the insight and understanding of the legal consequences and obligations that the court expects from you. Just because a friend did it on her own, does not mean it was done well, or even correctly. Think about it this way, you could pull your own tooth out, but it would probably be painful and potentially done incorrectly, or you could go to a professional, a dentist, and have it done right the first time. It is the same way with attorneys. Attorneys know the law and can guide you through this complex process.
Best of luck.
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You have the right to file your own pleadings, however, the court will expect that all necessary documents are provided, and that all procedures have been done properly. The court (judge and staff) cannot and will not give you legal advice. I have seen many cases where the parties ended up having to hire lawyers after a poorly done pro se (no lawyers) divorce has been finalized because of errors or because important issues weren't addressed properly. It can be much more expensive to fix a mess later than it is to do it right from the beginning. As far as your specific question about whether a court appearance will be required, that depends entirely on the judge to whom the case is assigned. Some will do a "judgment on the pleadings" (no appearance required, but several more documents are necessary), some will require at least one party to appear for the "final", others will require both parties to appear.
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