Do I need a lawyer?
Although divorces in Finland are usually filed and processed at the district courts, not all cases have to be dealt with in a trial. The easiest and cheapest way for both partners is to find a compromise and come to an agreement by themselves, and to ensure mutual understanding.
However, sometimes the divorcing partners cannot agree on a common solution. If you or your ex-spouse take the divorce case to trial, or a decision is formally appealed to court, you are usually required to hire a lawyer. You might also want to consult a lawyer or a legal assistant for drafting up the agreement on property distribution and the child care agreement. A legal assistant can either be a private lawyer, a private attorney, or a public legal aid attorney.
Most of the divorce process will be conducted in Finnish; however, you can request translation services from the court. When you hire a lawyer, make sure that he or she speaks English and has experience in international divorce cases. Some lawyers might even offer services in your mother tongue.
"If I tallied up the total costs for both lawyers and everything, it's probably over several tens of thousands of euros for this. For something that, in my opinion, could have been decided just between us."
If you cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, you might be entitled to legal aid (oikeusapu) from the state. The costs for legal assistance, translations, and possible court fees will be covered fully or partly, depending on your income. Your legal assistant can help you with the application for legal aid, or you can turn directly to the public legal aid offices. If you have an active legal expense insurance policy, you are usually not entitled to legal aid.
When receiving legal aid, in most cases your court fees are waived, so you do not have to pay them. However, if you lose the case and have to pay compensation to the other party, the legal aid usually does not cover for that.