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Is is essential that I have a lawyer present during a No-Fault, New York State divorce hearing? Our Sep Agreement is done.

New York, NY |

The Separation Agreement will be entirely agreed to prior to the hearing, or whatever it's called. (What is it called?? A trial??) Of course it's always wise to have a lawyer on your side in court, but I am on a very limited budget, and I need to try and save every dollar I can. I'm sure most of you lawyers will say I need one, but I'll respect you more if you present an honest, balanced answer! I thank you in advance?

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Attorney answers 4


My answer would be that It depends on your situation and what you are agreeing to - for example if you have children, if you have assets or debt that is being apportioned, property that is being vacated? Is your ex to be represented by an attorney?

If there are no real assets, no kids and not much being hashed out or much to lose then you may will most likely be fine without an attorney.


While it is never absolutely necessary, there is an old adage that says "S/He who acts as their own lawyer has a fool for a client." I didn't say it, it's been said for hundreds of years for a good reason. When you show up for a trial in court, you'll usually have no idea of what is to be done, who does it or what to do. Its all new to you. As a result, often times the Judge may be a bit short with you (although he/she should bend over backwards, that's not usually the case) and remember, once the "trial" is over, its even harder to go back to make a change.

Of course, you're supposedly going to have an entire Stipulation of Settlement in place that settles everything, but if anything is missed, there is little or no opportunity to know/realize it without benefit of counsel by your side.

As the first answer said, it depends upon your personal circumstances. But I would be very careful with something as serious and long lasting as a divorce and all the ramifications that grow out of them.

Good luck, nonetheless. And, oh yes, I would recommend having a lawyer with you. But, then again, I'm a lawyer. However, I don't practice in NYC, so that should help give me some level of believeability.

You may call our office at 516-248-6600 or send an email to us at This answer does not form an attorney/client relationship with anyone and any answers do not constitute direct legal advice and should not be followed unless and until you have spoken with an attorney of your choice.


Of course, if there is nothing in dispute and both parties fully understand their rights and responsibilities, it is not necessary for an attorney to reiterate what is already known.

IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: Ms. Brown’s response to the question above is not legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. All of Ms. Brown’s responses to questions posted on AVVO are intended as general information based upon the facts stated in the question, and are provided for educational purposes of the public, not any specific individual. If you would like to obtain specific legal advice about this issue, please contact an attorney in your state. Ms. Brown is licensed to practice law in New York. If you would like to contact her directly for a legal consultation, you may do so by calling 718-878-6886 during regular business hours, or anytime by email at:


Yes. You should always have an experienced attorney in connection to a court appearance, and in particular, a divorce matter. You state that your divorce matter is "no-fault," but this merely relates to the "grounds" element, which will result in the divorce being granted by the court. More important are the actual terms of the divorce, such as custody and child support (if there are minor children), spousal maintenance, and equitable distribution of assets and debts. Since the agreement is not yet signed, you should consult with a matrimonial attorney immediately.