Divorce is an emotionally charged time for any couple. When you decided to get married, your relationship was built on a foundation of mutual respect and admiration. Now that you’re facing a separation, those feelings may have faded or been replaced with dislike. Whether your divorce is amicable or fraught with tension, you need to make a decision regarding how you’ll handle the proceedings. Should you attempt to do them yourself or should you hire a San Diego divorce attorney? We offer the pros and cons of DIY divorcing.
- It Can Cost Less
In legal terms, a DIY divorce is called a pro-se proceeding. A mediated divorce can cost thousands of dollars, especially if issues are contested hotly. A pro-se divorce, by contrast, will cost you only a few hundred dollars. This is an attractive option for couples who want a quick, uncontested divorce. It also works best for those who are parting on amicable terms. If your divorce isn’t going to be clean-cut, you’re best sticking with a professional.
- It Can be Faster
Mediation can make any court proceeding drag, and divorces are no exception. There are waiting periods and lots of conversations back and forth between counsels. Longer divorce proceedings can prolong your emotional tumult, especially if filing wasn’t your idea. If you’re looking for a quick way out, a pro-se divorce may be the way to go.
- It Can Lead to an Unfair Settlement
Pro-se divorces can unfairly benefit one spouse over the other. Even if you reach an agreement you think is fair, you may be missing out on some benefits you deserve. For example, you may be eligible for alimony if you supported your spouse or made sacrifices for their education or career. If you’re a father, you may end up agreeing to a child custody arrangement that’s less than you’re entitled to because you think the system is rigged against fathers. If there’s a significant discrepancy between your incomes or if there are children involved, you should always enlist the help of a lawyer to ensure that everyone is getting a fair outcome from the proceeding
- You May File Paperwork Incorrectly
In a pro-se agreement, couples agree to terms and file the paperwork themselves. Sounds simple, right? Maybe not. Divorces are still legal proceedings and there are specific guidelines for filing. Once you submit the paperwork, the courts will file a judgment, making your divorce legally binding. Once a judgement is filed, it’s hard to undo. So if you divide property or an asset incorrectly, you’re at the mercy of the other spouse. Don’t let this happen to you. At the very least, have an attorney review your paperwork before filing.
- It May Not Save You Much in the Long Run
People turn to DIY divorces because they’re cheaper, but this may not be true in the long run. Most states offer free or low-cost legal services to middle and lower-income families. As a compromise, try “kitchen table mediation.” This is a low-cost option in which couples decide on the terms of a divorce themselves, and then call in a mediator to review it. They may help the couple improve the agreement, or they may simply file the paperwork for you. This ensures that each member of the relationship is getting what was promised and in a timely fashion.
If you’re looking for a compassionate attorney to help you with your divorce, look no further than our San Diego family lawyers at Boyd Law. If you have further questions or would like to initiate a proceeding, please contact us to meet with one of our associates.