Unfortunately, many marriages run out of steam during some point during couple’s life together. For some it happens earlier, for some later, but the bottom line is that a huge number of marriages nowadays end in divorce. Is it because people are less and less patient and willing to change or is it because divorce is no longer stigmatized, we can’t tell you for sure. Certainly, in the Western world, there has been a significant increase in the number of marriages that have ended in divorce.
If you are in that situation, you are thinking about how best to do the whole process, as painlessly as possible. Of course, hiring a lawyer is the best move to start with and will make the whole process much easier for you. But on the other hand, it is not in your best interest to spend your entire life savings on this process, and then start from scratch again.
This is why many opt for a pro se divorce which means you have chosen to represent yourself in court rather than hiring an attorney. If you are considering that option, now you are wondering is it smart to file for a divorce without a lawyer? We will answer that question in the rest of the text.
Is it smart move?
We can tell you right away that hiring a legal representative is a best choice you can make. This will provide you with both legal aid, but it will also relieve you of additional burdens, and divorce is already a stressful and difficult event in your life. So every help is more than welcomed. But we also understand your desire to save money, which is completely natural. We cannot therefore tell you by a simple answer whether it is a smart move or not. So we will explain to you through a series of questions you need to ask yourself, whether it is a smart move or not.
Is there a lot of bad blood among you?
The state of the spouses’ relationship before divorce varies considerably. While some are in a very good and friendly relationship and have decided to take this step only because there is no love as before and they want a new step in their lives, others view their spouse as a mortal enemy. If you are on good terms, then a DIY divorce can make sense. Although don’t expect the whole process to be too friendly, because only when you start all this will you see how many potential problems you will face, which can ruin your good relationship until then. If you are both in favor of a pro se divorce, then sit down before you start and analyze carefully whether you can agree on each topic. If you can, go ahead then. If you can’t agree on everything or don’t talk at all because of so much bad blood between you two, by no means try anything until you hire a lawyer. Don’t forget that you need divorce and family law specialists, like Kabir Family Law, and not general practitioners.
Do you have children?
Of course we are talking about minor children where legal custody must be determined. There are spouses who manage to easily agree on this topic, for example if the nature of the work of one of you is such that you cannot accept full custody and the like. Then you reach an agreement on who kids will live with, how often they will spend time with someone they do not live with, determine child support and everything else. But a parenting plan and parenting schedule is often a topic that even spouses who are on good terms cannot agree on. So if you have minor children, our advice is to hire a lawyer. This is too complex a topic for two people who know nothing about the law, and also have a common interest, to agree in the right way. In order for the divorce to end as soon as possible and to have as little stress as possible on the children, hire a lawyer, because its positive impact will be very great.
Do you have jointly acquired property?
If you have been married for a long time, it is likely that you bought an apartment, house or other property together during that time. If you are not, then you do not need a lawyer for that. But if you have property, you absolutely need legal advice on how the property will be divided and sold. If you decide to sell the property, the situation is simpler than if one of the spouses wants to keep it. In any case, this is by no means a topic you want to procrastinate on. Until all legal issues related to the property are resolved, a large amount of money will be unavailable to you. That is why every long marriage, where a lot of things have been acquired together, needs a lawyer, while marriages that have lasted a short time and live, for example, in a rented apartment, can go and try a DIY divorce.
Is the spouse seeking alimony?
There are situations when one spouse asks the other for alimony after the divorce. There are legal grounds for this, which usually concern the income of both and the like. But it is very difficult for the spouses to agree on the amount of alimony on their own. The one who asks for alimony will always expect more than what is offered, while the one who has to pay alimony thinks that it is too much money. That is why it is good for lawyers to act as mediators during these agreements, in order to show you both what the realistic requirements are.
How good are you with paperwork?
Divorce brings with it a huge amount of paperwork. If you regularly encounter paperwork at work, then you may be able to do everything yourself. But if you don’t like paperwork and don’t handle it well, a lawyer will save you a lot of headaches. For the court system, paperwork is most important, so it is the everyday life of a lawyer. He will do it quickly and easily, while it would take you weeks and in the end you would not be sure if you did everything well.
After reading this article, it will be very easy for you to conclude whether you are the right candidate for a DIY divorce. If you realize that you still need a lawyer, don’t try to save, because it will backfire.