In the event that the couple is able to remain amicable and are not struggling to determine things such as division of property and custody of children, a do-it-yourself divorce may be a good option for them.
There are many reasons a divorce is pursued, and the details of a divorce will look drastically different depending on the dynamic between the couple seeking to end their marriage.
So what is a do-it-yourself divorce?
Do-It-Yourself Divorce Explained
A do-it-yourself divorce is when a couple goes through the process of a divorce without any assistance from an attorney. The main benefits to a do it yourself divorce are the financial aspect, as you can avoid the legal fees of hiring an attorney.
However, two things that may make a do-it-yourself divorce impractical are lack of time and temperament.
A lot of time and effort will go into a divorce that is carried out without the assistance of an attorney. Divorce laws vary drastically depending on state.
A couple seeking a do-it-yourself divorce must do extensive research on state laws, gather the documentation, and follow through with all court appearances and other appointments that may be necessary during a divorce.
Additionally, the couple needs to be very confident that they’re comfortable with all the agreements being made prior to the divorce.
Alternatives to an Attorney
Even if a couple decides not to seek the assistance of an attorney, there are still some more cost efficient resources for helping in simplifying the agreements of the divorce.
The first of which would be consulting with an accountant. There are long-term tax considerations in going through with a divorce. It’s recommended to discuss these changes and considerations prior to filing the divorce.
However, if a couple decides to skip a meeting with an accountant, the IRS also offers a lot of free information online that can better explain the technicalities of taxes after divorce.
Another person a couple may want to consider consulting is a divorce mediator, which is a person who can help sort out some of the physical aspects of a divorce, including separation of property.
A mediator will help a separating couple reach a general consensus regarding these important things, serving as an unbiased source to help the pair overcome any emotional barriers that come with a divorce.
That being said, if there is a lot of anger and resentment in a divorce, it might be best to enlist the help of an attorney instead of just seeking a mediator. The same goes if there was abuse or infidelity in the marriage – the best course of action is probably to seek the help of an attorney.
Couples with a history of distrust, deception, or even a history of hiding funds from one another should not pursue a DIY divorce.
How to File Your Own Divorce
The logistics will vary from state-to-state, and even county-to-county, but the county clerk’s office can probably offer you some basic information on how to file your own divorce.
As mentioned before, the internet has some great resources, but the county clerk’s office can provide you information on how exactly to file in your area, or even your local attorney’s office.
In some areas, there are also businesses that can prepare the legal paperwork necessary for a divorce. This is a great way to avoid the fees associated with an attorney while still reducing some of the legwork needed in a do-it-yourself divorce.
Additionally, some courts are hesitant to allow do-it-yourself divorces. If this is the case in the pursuant couple’s area, they can complete the paperwork on their own and then bring it to an attorney for submission. This will greatly reduce the fees.
Some of the necessary paperwork in a divorce, regardless of whether or not it is a DIY divorce, are as follows:
- Divorce Complaint and Answer
- Court Summons
- Child Support Affidavit and Custody/Visitation Agreement – This is, of course, only if the divorcing couple has children.
- Financial Affidavit
- Divorce Settlement Agreement
- Divorce Judgment
When is a Do-It-Yourself Divorce a Good Choice?
More often than not, a divorcing couple will be experiencing negative emotions toward one another. This is just the nature of a divorce.
Regardless, even if the couple has slight hostility toward each other, that might not be a reason to write off a divorce.
A couple may be a good fit for a Do-It-Yourself divorce if the following are true:
- Both parties are in agreement about getting a divorce and it is a no-fault divorce.
- One spouse has not already hired an attorney. If this is the case, the best option legally is to both have attorneys.
- If the couple has children, they are in agreement about a custody schedule. In fact, it is sometimes recommended in a do-it-yourself divorce that the custody filing is done first. This is typically the most complex part of a divorce handled by attorneys. If this is addressed first, the rest of the divorce will go more smoothly.
- There is no history of domestic violence in the marriage.
- The couple has limited debt.
- Lastly, both parties need to be aware of all of the leg-work involved in a do-it-yourself divorce. and be willing to do their part.
Contact an Attorney
If a couple is still not sure that a do-it-yourself divorce is right for them, they should consult with a divorce attorney.
These consultations are typically free. A couple can speak with an attorney to determine if they need to enlist the help of one.
There is a reason why attorney fees are not very cheap. It is because they significantly decrease the stress of a divorce. In the event that things get ugly, all communication will go through an individual’s attorney as opposed to direct correspondence between the divorcing couple.
If a DIY divorce is not a practical option for a filing couple, then each party needs to hire their own attorney. The attorneys will work against one another in getting a fair split for the couple.
The attorney will handle all paperwork, alleviate stress of the couple, and ensure they are getting the best outcome possible.