Hello again, Suzanne.
It is not required by law that you retain an attorney, but an attorney should at least review the agreement you enter into with your spouse to ensure it provides each of you with the rights and obligations that you intend, before you execute it and file it with the court.
Yes, after the proper pleadings are filed with the court, a hearing should normally be set in which the court will review the records, take any testimony that may be appropriate, and either grant or deny the requested separation. If you do not wish to appear at the hearing yourself, then you would typically need to retain a local attorney to appear on your behalf.
I hope this helps clarify the situation for you. Please let me know if you were looking for any additional information.
It has been my pleasure to assist you. Kindly remember to rate my answer when our communication is completed so I will be compensated for my time in providing you with the information you requested. If you feel the need to provide a low rating, please stop and reply to me via the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button with whatever issue or clarification you may need. I will be happy to continue further and assist you until I am able to explain your concern to your satisfaction. Please also remember that I cannot control whether the law is favorable to you or not, so please don’t shoot the messenger. Thank you and all the best to you in 2013.
Please feel free to bookmark the following link so you can request me to answer any future legal questions you may have: