Divorce without a lawyer?

Divorcing spouses often have concerns when it comes to hiring attorneys. You then ask yourself: Are costs getting out of hand? Or are the lawyers just adding fuel to the fire? These are all legitimate concerns. But: a divorce without a lawyer does not exist in Germany. It is required by law that the divorce petition be filed with the court by an attorney.

Online divorce only in clear circumstances

In order to minimize the contact with the lawyer, which is sometimes perceived as problematic, some lawyers offer a so-called “online divorce”. But is this really a good alternative?

Online divorce also does not work without a lawyer. What takes place online is the communication between lawyer and client. So, again, the marriage is divorced by a court and the spouses must appear in person for the divorce hearing. However, they then do not see the lawyer mandated by one spouse until they go to court.

In this way, the “uncertainty factor divorce lawyer” is largely kept at bay in advance. In addition, since the other spouse does not need his or her own attorney if he or she agrees to the divorce, costs can be saved.

However, the classic online divorce is only suitable if the spouses willing to divorce agree on all points (division of assets and equalization of gains, pension equalization, alimony and custody). Should this not be the case, they quickly end up back with the lawyer – and each spouse with his or her own.

How to avoid a contentious divorce?

When you hire a lawyer in divorce proceedings, you must be aware of one thing: The lawyer is also only a human being. For example, he might advise you to be especially aggressive against the other spouse in order to get a great deal out of it (financially). This can be advantageous for you. However, you may not want that at all and are rather interested in an amicable divorce.

In addition, divorce proceedings have an adversarial structure: they are based on speech and counter-speech. There is little room for cooperation.

For example, in the divorce drama “Marriage Story,” there’s a key scene that might resonate with the experience of most trial lawyers. The lawyer consulted by the husband explains to him that it makes no sense to enter the dispute with restraint: “If we start reasonably and the other side with madness, we meet in the middle between reason and madness. Therefore, we must likewise begin with madness so that we can then meet at reason.” With this view, escalation is pre-programmed.

Therefore, when conflicts arise, it is better to keep the lawyers out of the divorce. On the one hand, this has a positive effect on costs. On the other hand, you retain control over the process and thus minimize the existing uncertainty factors.

Mediation saves costs and spares your nerves

In mediation, you can cooperatively seek solutions to your conflicts. The initial focus is on the needs of the spouses, for which suitable solutions are worked out with a view to the future. There are other procedures for dealing with the past. And legal issues are also subordinate for the time being.

But there are also options for clarifying legal issues, such as obtaining a mediation opinion. The great advantage of mediation is that the spouses receive an objective assessment of the legal situation and not biased assessments from the opposing lawyer.

Once the existing conflicts are resolved through the collaborative process, the divorce can be amicable. Therefore, the order is always: first resolve conflicts, then file for divorce. The divorce date is then usually just a formality.

The issues that are not automatically dealt with in the course of the divorce (the so-called consequential divorce issues) can be settled in an agreement on the consequences of separation and divorce. This approach is usually less expensive than a contested divorce. Because the more contentious the divorce, the higher the costs – and the more of a strain on your nerves.