It depends. If an agreement to resolve your case is reached, some courts will divorce the parties without need of a court hearing. Other courts may require a short, uncontested hearing that is attended by only the petitioner. If you cannot reach an agreement, court will be required. There is great incentive to come to an agreement prior to going to court, in that court can become extremely expensive, especially if one party is awarded the other spouse’s attorney’s fees. Agreements “on the courthouse steps” on the way into court are not unheard of. The cost of going to court, however, should not be the deciding factor in settling vs. going to court.
To protect your assets, and your children, it is advisable to use a divorce attorney, even if you are able to come to an agreement without going to court. As family law attorneys we can often see potential future issues that divorcing spouses did not identify, that they may not have included in their agreement. It is always best to protect yourself, and rely on the competent advice of a seasoned divorce attorney.