Greetings. First, yes you absolutely should file for the equitable distribution prior to obtaining a divorce. Remember though that as soon as you file the same, deadlines for affidavits, court conferences, and disclosures are immediately created.
No, you do not need an attorney to file for you - if you can draft all the documents, understand the rules of civil procedure, know the local rules pertaining to the issue, etc. Most people find that with the automatic deadlines, unfamiliar rules, and just the laws themselves that they are better speaking with an attorney and obtaining their help.
Whether or not you have to wait on the marital residence being sold/resolved is up to your lender. Thank you.
Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Divorce
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.256.1665 direct fax
10925 David Taylor Drive, Suite 100
Charlotte, North Carolina 28262
704.644.2831 main voice
704.307.4595 main fax
The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.