While having a lawyer during a New York divorce is not required, it is recommended. Many people are turning to do-it-yourself divorce websites and losing more in court than they save by not hiring an attorney. Divorces can be complicated legal processes, and handling the matter without an attorney, especially when the other party has a lawyer, can be a costly mistake.
In addition to filing their own divorce documents, some people are responding to ads that offer help preparing divorce paperwork for a small fee. Because it is illegal for non-lawyers to give legal advice, anyone who uses one of these services should know that they may not have recourse if their paperwork is not handled properly.
There are several problems that can arise from going to divorce court without an attorney. Some people agree to things that they don't understand when they don't have a lawyer to explain documents to them. Others are not able to tell their whole story to the judge because their spouse's attorney poses objections and gets evidence excluded.
Going to divorce court without an attorney can have unintended consequences. Though it may cost less up-front to prepare divorce documents without an attorney, the advice and guidance an attorney may offer their client may be well worth the cost of their service. An attorney who has experience handling divorce cases may be able to help their client retain more of the assets that they acquired during the marriage. Even uncontested divorce cases can have issues that may require the assistance of an attorney, such as undisclosed assets or child custody disagreements.
Source: Huffington Post, "DIY Divorce: Why You Should Think Twice Before Divorcing Without A Lawyer", August 14, 2013