The answer to such a question will depend upon how many issues the parties are disputing and how comfortable the parties are with handling their divorce themselves.
In most divorce actions, the parties will be dealing with the issues of custody and access to the children, child support, spousal support and division of matrimonial property. While many people believe that such issues are straightforward, in my experience, many people do not understand how the Court will actually decide such issues. As all cases are different, asking friends, that have obtained a divorce, what they did in their situation is unlikely to provide a definitive answer as to what you should do in your situation.
It is perfectly understandable that parties wish to avoid the cost of using a divorce lawyer to obtain their divorce. Divorce is expensive enough without both parties having to pay thousands of dollars to their own lawyer. Divorce lawyers fully understand this.
Most divorce lawyers have experience of having to "put right" the paperwork that parties have filed with the Court themselves, prior to retaining their own divorce lawyer. Sometimes, the expense of having to do so is far greater than what they would have paid their own divorce lawyer had they retained that lawyer before any documents were filed with the Court in Calgary.
In a large number of divorce actions in Calgary, the Court is able to deal with all of the issues without the parties, or their lawyers, having to appear before a Judge, even if, at the outset, the divorce is "contested." However, if you wish to attempt to obtain a divorce without using a divorce lawyer, you should realise that it may be necessary for you to appear before a Judge on an Application for custody and access, child support and spousal support, particularly on an "interim" basis.
If the parties are unable to agree upon how to resolve all of the issues, a trial may be required. A trial will almost certainly have to occur if the parties are unable to resolve the division of matrimonial property. Another point to bear in mind is: what would you do if you started the divorce without using a Calgary divorce lawyer, but your spouse retained a Calgary divorce lawyer to handle the proceedings?
Clearly, it is a personal decision for anyone involved in a divorce to determine whether they are comfortable doing so without using a Calgary divorce lawyer, or whether they wish to retain a Calgary divorce lawyer.