Since divorce is a relatively common legal proceeding, some couples opt for a DIY approach. They decide to download the forms online and file them through the local domestic relations court. However, it is important to understand each step of the process that the court will look for when deciding the various issues of your case. Here are some points to keep in mind.
Is it Mutual?
A lot of times couples will say that it is a mutual decision when in fact, it is a decision made by one person and the other feels obligated to move forward with the divorce because they still care about the other person. This is something that you need to have an understanding of before considering a DIY approach. Oftentimes, one person will say what they want and there is agreement but then they talk to a friend who has experience with a divorce and are told to do something different. This change can come across as hurtful and, unfortunately, the other spouse may respond in a defensive manner. All of this makes a DIY approach very difficult to do since there isn’t outside support for going through all of the necessary steps in a divorce.
Is Money Involved?
If one spouse is a stay-at-home parent and doesn’t hold a job, it is common for the other spouse to pay toward that other spouse for a number of years. That way, a spouse doesn’t feel stuck in a relationship because they don’t have a way to support themselves. However, the same people that don’t feel like they can afford a lawyer, often can’t afford to support themselves financially in addition to supporting their divorced spouse. When this happens, it is common that savings and valuables are divided to support the other spouse. This, unfortunately, causes a lot of problems and disagreements with DIY divorces. This is one of the biggest reasons that people should get a lawyer to help with the divorce process to ensure that neither spouse gets the “short end of the stick.”
Is Childcare Involved?
There are a growing number of young people who get married and have children, only to get divorced shortly after. As the child grows older, the child that was once going to daycare every day is in public school and there is less financial support needed. However, it is common in DIY divorces, that changes like that aren’t accounted for and therefore an update in the divorce paperwork is needed. Typically, a divorce lawyer will discuss and keep these types of changes in mind so that as life changes, the requirements of each spouse change as well. This is similar to when one parent moves out of state for work and transporting the children from parent to parent every other weekend doesn’t work. To protect both parents, it’s important that these types of changes are documented and approved by a judge to prevent something from happening in the future where large fines are charged to the parent that moved out of state and couldn’t pick up the child every other weekend.
[opTo begin a divorce, you should read your state’s laws on how and when a divorce is granted. Many states require an official period of separation, usually lasting six to twelve months, before allowing a couple to divorce. The separation period provides time for the husband-wife to work out the issues and prepare the documentation. Some couples even reconcile during this time. Then you will need to download the proper forms required for your divorce actions. You may need to complete several filings, including the separation agreement, shared parenting arrangements, division of assets, and alimony if warranted. You must file the correct forms in a timely manner for processing.
Make sure the information included on the forms is correct and up to date. This may require some discussion or research to determine the value of your property, for example, as well as a list of the marital assets to be divided, sold, or shared. Employment details may be needed along with plans for where the children will go to school or receive religious instruction. Organize everything to complete the forms accurately.
When filing for divorce, decide what the key issues will be and work on them together if possible. Visitation rights, pet custody, child support, and division of the household furnishings and valuables are common concerns that couples need to work out when a marriage ends. Future expenses, like which parent will carry health insurance for the children and whether to return jewelry or gifts provided by one spouse to another may be considered.
This is also where you have to consider that your spouse that you’re divorcing may change their mind or may talk to someone that recommends bringing up certain issues that changes what you originally planned. Unfortunately, these types of changes aren’t commonly communicated among spouses and can cause issues.
The legal proceedings may require certain steps to be followed. A simple no-fault divorce without acrimony is easiest for everyone. But when the couple cannot agree on various issues, the court may appoint a mediator or require the couple to attend counseling sessions or a divorce workshop. Since all this may seem confusing, you may want to consult a divorce lawyer for information and guidance. An attorney who specializes in this area of law can help to make the process more streamlined and fair.
Divorce is never easy for a couple or a family. Take time to plan for it by getting organized and learning all you can. You may want to hire a lawyer who can help.